Today, in a bipartisan vote, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced the SECURE Water Amendments Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i). The SECURE Water Amendments Act will increase grant funding for water conservation and drought projects, provide resources for better data collection and analysis of water supply and use, and finally make Hawai"i water conservation projects eligible for WaterSMART grants from the Bureau of Reclamation.
"Recent droughts in Hawai"i and across the country show that we need a better approach to water efficiency and conservation," Senator Schatz said. "The SECURE Water Amendments Act will give local water authorities the resources to conserve and use water more efficiently. Our bill will also make Hawai"i water conservation projects eligible for WaterSMART grants."
To conserve water and promote sustainability, the bill:
Increases funding for WaterSMART grants. The bill will increase funding for the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART grant program, which supports local water management projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increases the use of renewable energy, protects endangered species, and facilitates water markets.
Provides resources to plan for and combat drought. Currently, drought-related projects are not authorized to receive WaterSMART grants. With recent extreme droughts on Maui, Hawai"i Island, and across the country, this bill makes sure projects that prepare for and respond to droughts are eligible for funding under the WaterSMART grant program.
Makes projects in Hawai"i eligible for WaterSMART grants. Only the 17 western reclamation states are eligible to compete for WaterSMART grants. The SECURE Water Amendments Act of 2014 will finally make Hawai"i projects eligible for those grants.
Helps to develop a comprehensive national water assessment. Schatz's bill will provide resources for states to gather and analyze water supply and use information to help develop a uniform national assessment of water availability and use.
The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai"i), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Identical companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
The SECURE Water Amendments Act of 2014 is supported by numerous groups including the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the American Planning Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Western States Water Council, the Global Water Policy Project, the National Association of Water Companies, and the Center for Water-Efficient Landscaping.