Technology & Innovation Playing Larger Role in Water, Stormwater Legislation

four(June 26, 2018) - Several pieces of legislation have been introduced recently in support of advancing water technology innovation.

Sen. Baldwin (D-WI) introduced S. 3012, the Water Technology Acceleration Act. This bill, which NACWA supports, would establish an innovative water technology grant program and encourage use of the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) for investments in innovative water technology. A House companion is under development.

Meanwhile, Sen. Duckworth (D-IL) introduced S. 3037, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Plumbing Research Act , to reestablish a laboratory within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to promote innovative technologies that improve public safety, system reliability and water efficiency in modern homes and businesses. NIST previously ran a plumbing laboratory for decades, but it was disbanded in the 1980s. This bill already has a House companion (H.R. 301).

Also notable related to innovative water management is recent report language in a couple of bills being considered in Congress. First, there is a provision in the Committee report for the House-passed Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, H.R. 8. The report encourages the U.S. Army Corps and non-Federal project sponsors to utilize the best and latest practices in the area of digital monitoring technology when designing and building environmental infrastructure projects, with an eye toward maximizing the cost-effectiveness of projects.

Second, there is a provision in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill secured by Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD) in relation to recent flooding in his state. The language encourages the Department of Transportation (DOT) to accelerate the research, demonstration, and deployment of permeable pavements to achieve flood mitigation, pollutant reduction, stormwater runoff reduction, and environmental conservation. The language further encourages DOT to conduct a comprehensive life cycle cost analyses of permeable pavements and establish structural design methods to enhance roadway stormwater mitigation and flood reduction. The provision states that DOT shall focus on areas with recent flooding disaster declarations and make its findings available to States and local jurisdictions.

NACWA will continue monitoring these provisions as these bills advance through Congress. The time and interest in Congress to act on major legislative efforts related to water technology and water management innovation is currently limited, but these bills and provisions may help promote continued conversations.