Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano welcomed the passage of the Reauthorization of Water Desalination Act of 2011, a bill she introduced in July which will fund federal research and development projects to improve desalination, the process of converting seawater into drinking water. The bill was included as part of H.R. 3671, a larger year-end funding bill that passed the House of Representatives and is expected to pass the Senate later today.
"The funding in this bill will allow critical desalination research and development projects to move forward," Napolitano said. "Communities in the western states, the southeast, and other parts of the country have suffered from droughts and shrinking water supplies in recent years. If perfected, desalination may help us tap the ocean as a reliable source of potable water. I thank Senator Dianne Feinstein for her efforts to move this bill through the Senate."
The bill reauthorizes the Desalination Act of 1996, allocating $3 million a year through 2013 to conduct research and improve water desalination processes. Since 1996, projects or studies have been funded in more than half of the 50 states, with 38 projects being funded in California alone.
Some of the programs' discoveries since 1996 include determining how to dispose of saline wastewater, establishing uniform industry standards for common desalination components, funding "brackish" water projects to desalinate groundwater, discovering how to withdraw seawater from below the seafloor with minimal environmental damage, and developing reverse osmosis membrane pretreatment to improve desalination.