AWE Legislative Watch


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. 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.


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. 


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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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