September 25, 2009

CARDIN ENDORSES REID BILL TO CONSERVE WATER THROUGH STATE AND REBATES AND GRANTS

State and Local Governments, Utilities and Consumers would benefit from new programs to offset the cost of new climate-friendly technology and designs

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, today announced his co-sponsorship of " The Water Efficiency, Conservation and Adaptation Act (WECAA)."  Authored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the legislation is designed to promote residential water efficiency through state rebate and incentive programs, and help water systems adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change on the water cycle. 
 
"My highest priority, as Chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, is to ensure that all Americans have clean and safe drinking water.  For that we need to preserve the water that we have today and rebuild our aging water infrastructure so that it can handle the challenges presented by climate change and our growing population," said Senator Cardin.
 
"In the last week, a burst water main in Dundalk, Maryland, and failed sewage plants in Georgia have provided dramatic and devastating evidence that our water infrastructure needs attention.  The Water Efficiency, Conservation, and Adaptation Act will allow us to use our water more wisely, easing the strain on existing infrastructure and diminishing the need for new, expensive water systems.  It will also help our aging water systems withstand the strain of more frequent droughts and floods brought on by climate change."
 
The Water Efficiency, Conservation and Adaptation Act includes authorization for $87.5 million to improve and expand the Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program that seeks to help consumers identify water-efficient products and programs that achieve at least 20% water-use reduction over similar products or services.  The EPA estimates that if all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion dollars per year.
 
The legislation also provides $700 million over five years to allow states, local governments and utilities to implement incentive and rebate programs for consumers who purchase or install certified water-efficient products like faucets, irrigation systems, clothes or dishwashers.
The bill establishes a grant program to aid water utilities and other water system operators mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change through improvements to infrastructure, better planning, innovative green infrastructure practices, and increased efficiency.  More frequent droughts and floods, rising sea levels, as well as many more days with heavy rains, will impact drinking water supplies and strain our aging infrastructure. 
 
According to the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, more frequent and intense coastal storms along with sea level rise of 24-48 inches over the next century will target Maryland's coastal infrastructure, including water supplies, making it the largest economic impact of climate change in the state.
 
Higher temperatures will increase demand for water supplies for drinking water and irrigation, while warmer temperatures are likely to impair water quality. Increased precipitation and more intense runoff can increase concentrations of pollutants in aquifers and raise the risk of drinking water contamination. 
 
The legislation announced today builds upon the Water Infrastructure Financing Actdrinking water and wastewater infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. , introduced by Senator Cardin earlier this year, which provides important reforms and increased funding for our nation's