WASHINGTON – Legislation to require $300 million in new federal research into the energy-water nexus and to create a new White House initiative on water policy has been introduced in the House by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX.
“Water availability and quality are essential for public health and a strong economy,” Ms. Johnson said in introducing her legislation on the House floor. “But demands for and threats to these resources are growing.”
“Whether it is billions of dollars in lost revenue for our agricultural sector or reduced electric reliability due to low cooling water supplies for power plans, the country is already feeling the impacts of reduced water availability and quality,” she added.
Her proposals are contained in two bills, both of which were immediately referred to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
One measure, The Energy and Water Research Integration Act of 2012 (H.R. 5827) focuses attention on the energy-water nexus—the energy required to provide reliable water supplies and the water required to provide reliable energy supplies. The legislation would direct the Secretary of Energy to include water considerations in the Energy Department’s energy research and to minimize freshwater withdrawal and consumption, increase water use efficiency and utilize nontraditional water sources.
The legislation would authorize $300 million over five years for this research and an additional $10 million to fund a new Energy-Water Architecture Council to help coordinate and promote better energy and water data collection.
The second bill, The Coordinating Water Research for a Clean Water Future Act of 2012 (H.R. 5826) would elevate the importance of water research by creating a National Water Research and Development Initiative at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The goal is to increase the federal government’s role in coordinating federal water research activities to identify and address changes in water use, quality, supply and demand.
“We applaud Rep. Johnson’s efforts to address crucial issues of water use, particularly regarding the important energy-water nexus,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “The relationship and interdependence of water and energy are all too often forgotten in research and policy decisions.”