Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano introduced H.R. 745, the Reauthorization of the Water Desalination Act of 1996, which would fund federal research and development projects into desalination, the conversion of seawater into freshwater.
"Desalination is critical for the future of a reliable, sustainable water supply, especially for our western states," Napolitano said. "We must continue to provide federal funding to enhance technologies for producing new water from the ocean in order to combat drought, population growth, and climate change. Increasing our desalination efforts will drive down costs and be a powerful engine for economic growth, and I urge my colleagues to support these critical programs."
H.R. 745 would allocate $3 million a year through 2018. Since 1996, projects or studies have been funded in more than half of the 50 states, with 38 projects being funded in California alone. The program was reauthorized in December 2011 and will expire on September 30, 2013 if Congress does not act.
The programs' discoveries 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 to minimize environmental damage, and developing reverse osmosis membrane pretreatment to improve desalination.
Napolitano is the ranking member of the Water and Power Subcommittee on the House Natural Resources Committee.