House Subcommittee Moves Two Water Bills

On May 6, the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy and Environment passed two bills aimed at increasing water supply through research and new technologies.

Subcommittee Chair Nick Lampson (D-Texas) led the markup on H.R. 3957, the Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act and H.R. 2339, the Produced Water Utilization Act of 2007.

"Water utilities across the country withdraw roughly 40 billion gallons of water per day for domestic consumption, industrial processing, energy production, and fire protection," said Lampson. "As population and energy use continues to grow, so will the demand for water."

The Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act, authored by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), establishes a research and development program within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development to promote water-use efficiency and conservation. Through this program, the agency will be able to develop and encourage the adoption of technologies and processes that will achieve greater water-use efficiency, thus helping to address water supply shortages. The program will help spur innovation in the collection, treatment, and reuse of rainwater and gray water -- the wastewater from sinks, baths, and kitchen appliances.

"Thirty six states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013," said Matheson. "As the West continues to grow, we must face the problem of continually increasing the demands on a finite water supply."

The Produced Water Utilization Act creates a research, development, and demonstration program to promote the beneficial reuse of water produced in connection with oil and gas extraction. In the United States, up to 2.3 billion gallons per day of produced water is generated, but this water is not of sufficient quality to be used to meet water needs. This legislation, introduced by Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-Texas), will provide innovative treatment technologies that will enable the reuse of this water in an environmentally responsible way.

"We need to find ways to preserve, reuse, and augment our water supplies," added Lampson. "Ensuring adequate water supply across the country will require a commitment to conservation research and new technology."

The committee will have a hearing May 14 to further delve into water issues in the 21st century.

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