AWE Legislative Watch

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The Alliance for Water Efficiency is pleased to monitor U.S. federal legislation and inform its members of bills relating to water conservation and efficiency. 

The 115th Congress began on January 3, 2017. That means all bills from the 114th Congress are cleared and everything starts over. Bills of interest will be posted as the new Congress begins to take action. Check back often for updates.

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U.S. House of Representatives

115th Congress

  • H.R. 301 - NIST Plumbing Research Act of 2017 
  • H.R. 448 - Water Conservation Tax Parity Act (Tentative Title) 
  • H.R. 1663 - Water Resources Research Amendments Act 
  • H.R. 2328 - Low-Income Sewer and Water Assistance Program Act of 2017 
  • H.R. 3248 - Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use Act of 2017 
  • H.R. 3275 - Water and Energy Sustainability through Technology 

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H.R. 301 - NIST Plumbing Research Act of 2017 

Status: Introduced January 5, 2017 in the House and referred to committee.

Purpose: To promote research on updating plumbing standards to increase water efficiency, safety, security and sustainability.

Sponsor: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)

Summary: This bill would establish a laboratory within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct research on standards for home and building plumbing and ways that they can be updated to increase water efficiency, safety and sustainability. In addition, the director of NIST would be required to report regularly to Congress on progress in these areas. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on January 5, 2017 and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Rep. Cartwright introduced this bill in the 114th Congress, but it was not enacted.

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H.R. 448 - Water Conservation Tax Parity Act (Tentative Title) 

Status: Introduced January 11, 2017 in the House and referred to committee.

Purpose: To make rebates for water conservation and storm water runoff measures tax exempt.

Sponsor: Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

Summary: This bill would amend Section 136 of the Internal Revenue Code, which makes energy conservation rebates provide by utilities exempt from federal income taxes, to include rebates provided by water utilities for water conservation and storm-water management. Currently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) insists that rebates for homeowners who replace water-thirsty lawns, install “gray water” capture systems or purchase new water-efficient appliances are considered income to the recipient and subject to federal taxes. The IRS and Treasury Department have stated that they cannot grant administrative relief from taxing such rebates and that Congress must act to amend the Internal Revenue Code. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on January 11, 2017 and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. It is similar to a bill introduced by Reps. Huffman and Rohrabacher in the 114th Congress. That measure was not acted on by the committee.

Note: See Resources section following U.S. Senate bills below. 

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H.R. 1663 - Water Resources Research Amendments Act 

Status: Introduced in the House and referred to committee.

Purpose: To amend the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 to reauthorize grants for and require applied water supply research by the institutes established under that Act.

Sponsor: Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA)

Summary: This bill would amend the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 to require additional research on the effectiveness and efficiency of new and existing treatment approaches, including nonstructural alternatives, decentralized approaches, energy and water use efficiency and actions to extract energy from wastewater. It would also authorize funding this research at $9 million a year for the next five years. (Full Text)

History: Introduced on March 21, 2017 and referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans. Wittman introduced the same legislation in the last Congress. The measure died in committee.

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H.R. 2328 - Low-Income Sewer and Water Assistance Program  

Status: Introduced and sent to committee.

Purpose: To establish a federal pilot program to provide funds for sewer and water programs in low-income areas.

Sponsor: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

Summary: This bill would create a pilot program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants to not fewer than 10 public utilities in order to assist low-income households in maintaining access to sanitation services. It would target utilities that are under consent decrees for violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on May 3, 2017 and referred to the Water Resources and Environmental Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Rep. Fudge introduced an identical bill in the last Congress, but the measure did not win committee approval. 

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H.R. 3248 - Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use Act of 2017 

Status: Introduced and referred to four committees.

Purpose: To authorize a WaterSense® program and tax-free rebates for users of water-efficient products.

Sponsor: Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-PA)

Summary: This bill would authorize a WaterSense program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to certify the efficiency of certain plumbing, water treatment and irrigation products and to promote the use of such products. The Trump administration has proposed barring any funds to continue WaterSense. Under this bill, Congress would for the first time authorize WaterSense but would not authorize any funds for the program. Any funding would have to be included in EPA’s appropriations bill. It would also mandate a preference for WaterSense products in federal procurement and would create a program of incentives for early adopters of WaterSense products, with $450 million in funding over the next five years. The bill would change the tax code so that any rebates received by individual early adopters would not be taxable. The bill would also direct the EPA to publish estimated aggregate industry statistics regarding WaterSense to “the reasonable extent practicable.” (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on July 13, 2017, with 23 co-sponsors, all Democrats. It was referred to several House committees, including Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, on July 13, 2017. This bill is similar to HR 3720, which was introduced by Rep. Cartwright in the last Congress but was not acted upon. The earlier bill would have authorized funds for WaterSense and mandated EPA reporting of industry data.

Attention: AWE seeking signers for letter in support of H.R. 3248.

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H.R. 3275 - Water and Energy Sustainability through Technology 

Status: Introduced and referred to committees.

Purpose: To authorize a WaterSense program at the Environmental Protection Agency and to promote water and energy efficiency in federal activities.

Sponsor: Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA)

Summary: This bill would authorize a WaterSense program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to certify the efficiency of certain plumbing, water treatment and irrigation products and to provide guidelines for certification and reviewing standards. This voluntary program has been in operation for 10 years but has never been authorized or funded by Congress. In addition to authorizing WaterSense, this bill would authorize $55 million in funding over four years. The Trump administration is seeking to eliminate WaterSense completely. This bill would also create a new national energy-water nexus database and a program of grants for research and development into the relationship between energy and water production and use. It would also create new federal programs to increase the efficiency of public water systems. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on July 17, 2017 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and to five other committees.


U.S. Senate

115th Congress

  • S. 385 - Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act 
  • S. 692 - Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act 
  • S. 1137 - The Clean Safe Reliable Water Infrastructure Act 
  • S. 1460 - Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017
  • S. 1464 - Water Conservation Tax Parity Act 
  • S. 1700 - Water Efficiency Improvement Act of 2017 
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S 385 - Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act  

Status: Introduced and sent to committee.

Purpose: To promote energy and water efficiency in commercial, residential and industrial buildings and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Summary: Among several programs to improve energy and water efficiency, this bill would establish a new Supply Star program in the Department of Energy to identify and promote practices and products that use highly efficient supply chains in a manner that conserves energy, water and other resources. It would also direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a demonstration program aimed at improving energy and water conservation in up to 20,000 multi-family residential buildings. It would also create a sustainable manufacturing initiative to develop and demonstrate new technology to improve the efficient use of water in manufacturing. (Full Text)

History: Introduced on February 15, 2017, and referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This bill is identical to a measure sponsored by Sens. Portman and Shaheen in the last two congresses. Parts of their bill dealing with model building and leasing codes to promote water and energy efficiency were approved by the Senate on March 27, 2015 and sent to the House, which never took action on this bill.

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S. 692 - Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act 

Status: Approved in committee and reported to the full Senate.

Purpose: To provide for integrated plan permits and to promote green infrastructure wastewater management projects.

Sponsor: Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)

Summary: This bill would allow utilities to use green infrastructure (e.g. trees and porous pavement) to reduce stormwater flows. It directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote green infrastructure use to manage stormwater runoff in as an option to storm drains and pipes and directs the EPA to revise its guidance on using median household income in determining whether cities can afford capital-intensive and costly water infrastructure projects. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on March 21, 2017 and referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The committee approved the bill by voice vote on April 5, 2017 and ordered it reported to the full Senate.

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S. 1137 - The Clean Safe Reliable Water Infrastructure Act 

Status: Introduced in the Senate and referred to committee

Purpose: To authorize the WaterSense program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to improve programs and funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

Sponsor: Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD

Summary: This bill would for the first time provide congressional authorization of WaterSense, the EPA’s voluntary labeling program that identifies products that conserve water. WaterSense has been operated by EPA for over 10 years using the administrator’s discretionary funding authority, and it is currently on a list of programs that may be shut down at EPA. While authorizing WaterSense, this bill would not provide any specific funding for the program. The legislation would also amend the revolving loan program under the Safe Drinking Water Act to make planning and design of replacement or rehabilitation of aging treatment, storage, or distribution facilities, and public water system security measures eligible for assistance, and affirm the use of state revolving loan funds as security for state bonds. It would also reauthorize Section 221 of the Clean Water Act , which provides grants for addressing combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and stormwater discharges at a level of $1.8 billion over five years. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on May 16, 2017 and referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. WaterSense authorization was included in several bills during the last Congress but was not part of any final legislation.

Attention: AWE seeking signers for letter in support of S.1137. 

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S. 1460 - Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017

Status: Approved in committee and sent to the full Senate.

Purpose: To update federal policy to provide for greater energy and water efficiency, including authorization of a WaterSense® program at EPA.

Sponsor: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Summary: Among a broad range of measures to improve energy and water efficiency, this bill would authorize a WaterSense program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to certify the efficiency of certain plumbing, water treatment and irrigation products and to provide guidelines for certification and reviewing standards. Under this bill, Congress would for the first time authorize WaterSense but would not authorize any funds for the program. Any funding would have to be included in EPA’s appropriations bill. The Trump administration is seeking to eliminate WaterSense completely. The bill also includes provisions to encourage more water conservation in multi-family housing and in federal buildings and Improved standards for water efficiency in green-building certification. It would also establish a new inter-agency Nexis of Energy and Water Sustainability (NEWS) Office to coordinate research and projects related to the nexus between energy and water production, use and efficiency across multiple government agencies. It would also create a Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Pilot program to provide federal grants to encourage energy/water conservation projects. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on June 28, 2017, and referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It was approved by the committee and reported to the full Senate on June 29, 2017, where it awaits action.

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S. 1464 - Water Conservation Tax Parity Act 

Status: Introduced June 28, 2017 in the Senate and referred to committee.

Purpose: To make rebates for water conservation and storm water runoff measures tax exempt.

Sponsor: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Summary: This bill is identical to HR 448, introduced in the House on Jan. 11, 2017. Both bills would amend Section 136 of the Internal Revenue Code, which makes energy conservation rebates provided by utilities exempt from federal income taxes, to include rebates provided by water utilities for water conservation and storm-water management. Currently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) insists that rebates for homeowners who replace water-thirsty lawns, install “gray water” capture systems or purchase new water-efficient appliances are considered income to the recipient and subject to federal taxes. The IRS and Treasury Department have stated that they cannot grant administrative relief from taxing such rebates and that Congress must act to amend the Internal Revenue Code. (Full Text)

History: This bill was introduced on June 28, 2017 and referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It has bipartisan sponsorship, including Sen. Feinstein and Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Note: See Resources section below for related materials. 

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S. 1700 - Water Efficiency Improvement Act of 2017 

Status: Introduced and referred to committee.

Purpose: To authorize a WaterSense® program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Sponsor: Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rob Portman (R-OH), with seven other, bipartisan sponsors.

Summary: This bill would authorize a WaterSense program at EPA to certify the efficiency of certain plumbing, water treatment and irrigation products and to promote the use of such products. The Trump administration has proposed barring any funds to continue Watersense. Under this bill, Congress would for the first time authorize WaterSense but would not authorize any funds for the program. Any funding would have to be included in EPA’s appropriations bill. The bill would also direct the EPA to publish estimated aggregate industry statistics regarding WaterSense to “the reasonable extent practicable.” (Full Text) A similar bill introduced in the House by Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-PA) HR 3248 would also create a program to incent early adopters of WaterSense technology and mandate preferences for WaterSense products in federal procurement.

History: This bill was introduced on Aug. 2, 2017 and referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Several measures to authorize WaterSense were introduced in the last Congress, but none of them were passed.

Attention: AWE seeking signers for letter in support of S. 1700. 

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Related Items:


Parliament of Canada

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

December 3, 2015 to Current 
Bills to be posted as made known. Check back often for updates. 
 
 
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Links:

 
  • GovTrack.us - An independent tool to help the public research and track the activities in the U.S. Congress. 
  • THOMAS - Library of Congress site offering federal legislative information freely to the public. 
  • Parliament of Canada LEGISinfo - Research tool for finding information on legislation before Parliament.