While California deals with its drought, U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein are seeking more money for water sources.
The California Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to boost funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s pilot program for grants for alternative water sources.
According to Sen. Padilla’s office, the funding would help to promote groundwater recharge, stormwater capture and reuse, and water recycling projects.
The Water Reuse and Resiliency Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia. would authorize $1 billion over five years for the EPA program. This is an increase from the $125 million over five years authorized for the program in the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act passed by the Senate in April.
“As the climate crisis exacerbates drought conditions in California and throughout the West, we need to be proactive in strengthening and diversifying our water supply,” Sen. Padilla said in a statement. “Projects to modernize our water infrastructure have to be considered a national priority.
“This bill will boost funding for alternative water source projects that are key to improving our resiliency against drought,” he continued. “California is bearing the brunt of the impacts of the climate crisis, but we are also on the forefront of innovative ways to combat this crisis.”
Sen. Feinstein also discussed the bill.
“Climate change and the resulting extreme droughts mean we have to start using water much more efficiently,” she said in a statement. “Investing in water recycling is an important part of that effort. Our bill authorizes $200 million a year in new EPA funding to support projects that help us better use our existing water supply.”
In his statement, Sen. Ossoff said the bill would help the nation. “This bill will upgrade water infrastructure in Georgia and nationwide to improve water quality, increase efficiency and resilience, and help farmers survive droughts.”
The Water Reuse and Resiliency Act is supported by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, the Association of California Water Agencies, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, WateReuse Association, the Las Virgenes-Triunfo Joint Powers Authority, the Metropolitan Water District, the Orange County Sanitation District, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
This week, Sen. Padilla supported providing $200 million per year for the Alternative Water Source Projects program in a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sen. Padilla led the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Feinstein; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; and Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, as well as Sen. Ossoff.
People involved in water resources have expressed support for the proposal.
“As historic drought grips California and the West, and record-breaking rainfall inundates other parts of the country, it is critically important the nation modernize and adapt our water systems for the 21st century,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, who chairs the State Water Resources Control Board. In its news release, Sen. Padilla’s office said the senator has made developing sustainable water supplies a critical priority as California enters its second year of drought conditions. Sen. Padilla authored an amendment to the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act to make stormwater reuse and groundwater recharge projects eligible for the newly reauthorized EPA Alternative Water Source Projects pilot program.