U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Boozman (R-AR), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, have introduced a bill to reauthorize federal grant funding for water resources research institutes in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) will provide continued support for important research on state and regional water challenges, provide training for hydrologists and other water-related scientists and engineers, and fund public outreach and education on water issues. According to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Water Resources Research Institutes also are the country's single largest training program for water scientists, technicians, and engineers.
"Every American depends on clean, safe water at home and at work. Whether it's floods, droughts, or water quality, water research grants provide both an improved understanding of the country's water-related issues and better technology to address them. Nearly half a century after the Water Resources Research grant program was first put in place, this program is just as relevant to our economy and our environment, and just as critical to the health and safety of our communities," said Senator Cardin.
"WRRA grants are leveraged to bring additional resources to the study of water resources issues, including methods to protect reliable, clean and safe sources water for farms and communities," Senator Boozman said. "Each federal dollar spent must be matched with two non-federal dollars. This is the highest match requirement of any federal research program. This program allows the Arkansas Water Resources Center and its sister institutions across the country to solve real-world problems related to our water quality and quantity needs."
First authorized in 1964, the Water Resources Research Amendments Act was most recently reauthorized in 2006, in PL 109-471. The current authorization expired in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.
Last year's funded projects included research into the development of better detection methods for pathogens in drinking water, a review of water quality trends across select sites in in the Mid-South, and the impacts of drought on farm supply chains. WRRA Researchers across the Mid-Atlantic States have developed ways to keep the Chesapeake waters cleaner through urban stormwater treatment, improved roadway design, and eco-friendly poultry farming practices. WRRA-funded projects develop innovative and cost-effective solutions for similar water resources issues across the country.
Water Resources Research Act of 2013
Section 1. Short Title
This section provides that the Act may be cited as the ""Water Resources Research Amendments Act of 2013''.
Section 2. Water Resources Research Act Amendments
Subsection (a) amends 42 U.S.C. 10301 to declare that additional research is required into water-related alternative technologies, including: (1) nonstructural alternatives; (2) decentralized approaches; (3) water use efficiency; and (4) actions to reduce energy consumption or extract energy from wastewater.
Subsection (b) amends 42 U.S.C. 10303(b)(1) to clarify the scope of research to be performed by the funded institutes.
Subsection (c) amends 42 U.S.C. 10303(c) to require the Secretary of the Interior to report annually to the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Committee on the Budget of the United States Senate, and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Committee on the Budget of the United States House of Representatives, on the whether each funding recipient complied with the federal funding matching requirement during the preceding year.
Subsection (d) amends 42 U.S.C. 10303(e) to require the Secretary to conduct a careful and detailed evaluation of the quality, relevance and effectiveness of the research of each institute at least once every three years. If the evaluation concludes that an institute is not relevant or effective, no further grants to the institute may be provided until the qualifications of the institute are reestablished to the satisfaction of the Secretary.
Subsection (e) amends 42 U.S.C. 10303(f)(1) to authorize appropriations of $7,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2018.
Subsection (f) amends 42 U.S.C. 10303(g)(1) to authorize appropriations of $1,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2018 for research focused on water problems of interstate nature.