July 8, 2004
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
By Mr. GRAHAM of Florida:
S. 2621. A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to extend the pilot program for alternative water source projects; to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, the Authorization for the Alternative Water Sources Act of 2000, which I originally introduced, expires this year. I am introducing a bill to extend this law for five years through Fiscal Year 2009 at an average authorization level of $25 million per year.
Our Nation's water supply needs are great and growing. For instance, each day the State of Florida adds 900 residents. To satisfy the water needs of this daily population increase, Florida must supply 200,000 more gallons of fresh water per day. Furthermore, the additional infrastructure needed to accommodate new residents blocks rainwater penetration into aquifers, lowering the water table. In fact, residents of Florida's west coast are increasingly resorting to drinking desalinated water as fresh water sources no longer suffice. Depletion of fresh water has resulted in saltwater intrusion into inland aquifers tainting water supplies and reducing the ability of soils to grow plants.
Other States are facing similar crises.
In southern New Jersey, water demands are so great that groundwater withdrawals from aquifers have lowered the water table by 200 feet, causing saltwater intrusion.
In Georgia and South Carolina, excessive water demand has significantly lowered water levels causing the upward migration of salt water in the Brunswick area and an encroachment of seawater into the aquifer at the northern end of Hilton Head Island.
On the East Coast, which gets on average 40 inches of rain per year, water resources have long been thought to be inexhaustible. However with changing population patterns and increasing personal and commercial water use, many water-rich areas are finding that the water will not always be there when they need it.
The extension of the Alternative Water Sources Act will provide States with the assistance they need to meet the needs of growing populations without harming the environment. It will also provide funds on a cost-shared basis to States for development of non-traditional water resources that will provide much needed water and prevent future environmental damages.
The bill I introduce today, authorizes the EPA to provide grants, at an average $25 million a year for Fiscal Years 2005 through 2009, on a cost-shared basis for alternative water source projects. The EPA administrator is required to take into account the eligibility of a project for funding under the existing programs when selecting projects for funding under this nationwide program.
This law is critical to the environmentally friendly development of water resources in the United States. It authorizes funds for innovative water reuse, reclamation and conservation projects-helping many States meet current and future water supply.
Populations in water-rich areas are drawing increasingly on limited groundwater supplies. In the past, groundwater users in the East might have been characterized as private wells and small public water systems. Today, as people move away from traditional population centers along major rivers, groundwater use is increasing. In Pennsylvania, about six million people rely on groundwater.
Yet, trillions of gallons of fresh water in the United States are wasted and flood into the sea annually. For instance, in Florida, every year approximately 970 billion gallons of fresh water are diverted into canals that flow into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. This precious fresh water would otherwise have replenished aquifers or nourished fragile aquatic ecosystems. If properly captured and stored, this water could be used for industrial or commercial activities, reducing pressure on precious drinking water sources.
Our increasing water needs require immediate attention.
We continue to make progress in conservation. In the South Florida Water Management District, nearly 200 million gallons of water are being reused per day. However, demands remain great. For instance, each resident in South Florida uses nearly 175 gallons of fresh water per day-almost twice the national average. Much of this potable water is used for watering landscaping. We must find ways to reserve potable water for drinking and make better use of other sources of water for agricultural, commercial and outdoor watering purposes.
With innovations in water quantity management, we can curtail such tremendous wastes of water and reuse the water that supply storage facilities now cannot absorb.
In 1999, I sponsored S. 968, the Alternative Water Sources Act, which authorized funding for alternative water projects in States that do not receive funds for water supply projects. In 2000, my bill was incorporated into S. 835, the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act of 2000, which became Public Law 106-457. Unfortunately, the authorization for the Alternative Water Sources Act is due to expire this year. With our Nation facing many water quantity management issues, we must act now to renew the authorization.
Congress can provide tools to ensure that Americans have the water they need for a healthy and productive future. The Alternative Water Sources Act is one such tool, and we must not let it expire. I hope that Congress will approve an extension of the Act before the end of the year.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows: