Legislation Comes as California Faces Escalating Drought Emergencies
May 20, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) reintroduced his FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act (FUTURE Act), an ambitious water infrastructure proposal that is the culmination of months of public vetting and legislative development. This bill would develop more resilient water infrastructure, expand the use of modern water management tools and technologies, and assist underserved areas in meeting their drinking water needs.
“As the country starts to rebuild from the pandemic, we are facing another year of devastating droughts in the West. We cannot keep lurching from one crisis to the next, and it’s become abundantly clear that we must build resilient systems that work for everyone,” said Rep. Huffman. “Thanks to impressive public input, we have shaped a bill that will help us work together to improve drought preparedness and water supply reliability in a changing climate. Federal water policy does not need to be a zero-sum game. This legislation builds on the best ideas from everyone to secure a better water future and a healthier, more resilient, more sustainable economy for everyone.”
Major components of the Future Western Water Infrastructure And Drought Resiliency Act include:
- Infrastructure Development: Supports significant new investment in water infrastructure, including $750 million for sustainable, multi-benefit water storage projects; $500 million for water recycling and reuse projects; and $260 million for innovative water desalination projects. The legislation would establish a process to authorize new major water storage projects owned or supported by the Department of the Interior, modeled on the process used to authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water projects through the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
- Improved Technology And Data: Includes major investments in water data and technology to improve water management and reduce energy and water waste. Data and technology investments include an expanded water technology “X-Prize,” support for new stream gages to improve downstream water planning, and support for the development and deployment of emerging technologies to help manage and improve water supply availability.
- Ecosystem protection and restoration: Advances measures to reverse the widespread fish and wildlife species decline across the western United States. Measures include new voluntary incentives for farmers to provide waterbird habitat, expanded watershed health project funding, support for wildlife refuges along the Pacific Flyway in California’s Central Valley, multi-benefit water storage projects that provide both water supply benefits and fish and wildlife benefits, and improved drought planning efforts to protect biodiversity and sustain key fisheries.
- Water job training and education: Provides federal support for water education activities, collaborative water management efforts, and training and professional development support for the water sector workforce.
The FUTURE Act is comprehensive western water infrastructure and drought response legislation that includes several innovative proposals from House Democrats, including:
- Rep. Grace Napolitano’s Water Recycling Investment and Improvement Act,
- Rep. Mike Levin’s Desalination Development Act, and
- Water conservation-related provisions from Rep. Mike Thompson’s GREEN Act.
As the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, Rep. Huffman launched a public engagement process last year to engage the diverse perspectives, interests, and needs of those with a stake in the nation’s water resources, especially in the West. As part of the process, Rep. Huffman released draft legislation, invited the public and policy experts to weigh in, and received hundreds of stakeholder comments and suggestions over the following weeks and months. That draft legislation received support from numerous environmental NGOs and water users and utilities, including from every major urban water supplier in the west, and the final legislation reflects the results of the draft legislation’s broad public vetting.
This ambitious water infrastructure proposal was included in the landmark infrastructure bill H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, that the House passed in the summer of 2020.
Text of the bill can be found here.
A one-pager of the bill can be found here.
A section by section of the bill can be found here.
A full list of supporter letters can be found here.
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