July 07, 2020

Harris Introduces Legislation to Ensure Nation’s Water Sustainability

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday announced the introduction of the Water for Tomorrow Act, legislation that ensures the nation’s water supply is safe and sustainable. The threat of climate change, which has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color, will continue to intensify water scarcity and extreme weather conditions, particularly in California and the West. The Water for Tomorrow Act combines the water sustainability measures from Sen. Harris’ Water Justice Act with key measures from the FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act, led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).

“Every American has the right to clean water,” said Sen. Harris. “Unfortunately, our nation was already facing a water safety and affordability crisis. As our country continues to respond to COVID-19, Congress must prioritize a comprehensive investment in a sustainable water supply. This legislation will bring us one step closer making safe, clean, and affordable water a reality for all.”

Specifically, the legislation will make a nearly $3 billion investment in:

  • Water Infrastructure and Sustainability
    • Financing program to fund water infrastructure projects including storage, transport, desalination projects, and stormwater capture projects. Allows for access to federally-backed, low-cost loans. Prioritizes projects that will benefit low-income communities and communities impacted by climate change. Requires that projects provide fisheries or ecosystem benefits or improvements that are greater than mitigation and compliance. 
    • Grant program to help disadvantaged communities facing declines in drinking water quality or quantity. Led in the House by Rep. Cox.
    • Increased funding for water recycling and reuse. Led in the House by Rep. Napolitano.
    • Increased funding for water management improvement.
    • Reauthorization and increased funding for rural water supply.
  • Ecosystem Protection and Restoration
    • Grant program to improve watershed health and mitigate against climate change. 
    • Funding for the Cooperative Watershed Management Program, adding a focus on disadvantaged communities and projects that provide environmental benefits.
    • Support for refuge water deliveries, drought planning for fisheries, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
  • Improved Technology and Data
    • Utilization of data from technologies like LIDAR to measure water availability in snowpack.
    • Study to examine the climate change vulnerabilities of Federal dams.

For bill text, click here.

For further background, click here.

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