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As Congress considers major infrastructure investments, the Water Reuse and Resiliency Act would increase funding for EPA’s Alternative Water Source Projects Pilot Program

July 24, 2021 - WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.) introduced legislation to boost funding for the Alex Padilla senator official portraitEnvironmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pilot Program for Alternative Water Source Projects grants program. As California continues to face severe drought conditions, this funding increase will help promote groundwater recharge, stormwater capture and reuse, and water recycling projects.

The Water Reuse and Resiliency Act, which is cosponsored by Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), would authorize $1 billion over five years for the EPA’s Pilot Program for Alternative Water Source Projects grants 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,” Senator Padilla said. “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. 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.”

“Climate change and the resulting extreme droughts mean we have to start using water much more efficiently,” Senator Feinstein said. “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.”

“This bill will upgrade water infrastructure in Georgia and nationwide to improve water quality, increase efficiency and resilience, and help farmers survive droughts,” said Senator Ossoff.

The Water Reuse and Resiliency Act is supported by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), WateReuse Association, Las Virgenes-Triunfo Joint Powers Authority, Metropolitan Water District, Orange County Sanitation District, Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

This week, Senator Padilla led a letter with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) to Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Carper in support of providing $200 million per year for the Alternative Water Source Projects program.

“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,” State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel said.“Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio has put California on a path to a more secure water future and Senator Padilla’s legislation will leverage state investments by expanding funding for projects like water recycling, stormwater capture and reuse, and groundwater recharge.”

“Senator Padilla and Senator Feinstein’s legislation to support the construction of alternative waters supply projects will enhance our abilities to construct drought resilient water supplies,” said Adam Link, Executive Director of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA). “Equally important, it will allow CASA agencies to leverage our water quality treatment processes to deliver a new, safe and reliable water supply. Funding these projects is a vital step toward addressing the water supply needs of all of California’s citizens.  As an organization dedicated to developing climate resilient water supplies, CASA wholeheartedly supports Senator Padilla’s bill and looks forward to its enactment as Congress considers water infrastructure legislation.” 

Senator Padilla has made developing sustainable water supplies a critical priority as California enters its second year of drought conditions. 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.

He also joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) in introducing the Large Scale Water Recycling and Drought Resiliency Investment Act, which along with today’s newly introduced legislation provides a comprehensive approach to supporting drought-proof water reuse and recycling solutions to modern water challenges.
Source: Senator Alex Padilla