Press Release

April 22, 2021
Cardin, Boozman, Markey, Inhofe Mount New Bipartisan Push to Spur Innovation in Water Research

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today introduced the Water Resources Research Amendments Act, a bill to reauthorize federal grant funding for water resources research institutes in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Representatives Josh Harder (Calif.-10), Rob Wittman (Va.-01) and Grace Napolitano (Calif.-32) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

“This legislation will allow institutes to train more students to work in STEM fields and help meet the research needs of states facing challenges such as increasingly frequent and extreme rain events, algal blooms and floods,” said Senator Cardin, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “This bill addresses the need for additional research into increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of new and existing water treatment works, as part of our commitment to strengthening critical infrastructure. Funding from this program also helps support the Maryland Water Resources Research Center, in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at University of Maryland, College Park.”

“The Water Resources Research Program supplies critical data and information that help Arkansas and other states solve serious water quality and quantity challenges. It allows the Arkansas Water Resources Center and its sister institutions across the country to address real-world problems, like how to conserve water in agriculture production, and requires the highest match per recipient of any federal research program. The cost-effective, proven solutions we get from WRRA provide a model that Washington should replicate. I am pleased to help lead this bipartisan effort to reauthorize it,” said Senator Boozman.

“This legislation will support the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as it continues its invaluable work,” said Senator Markey. “This bipartisan bill will facilitate research, education, and problem-solving on how we can best use our water resources and strengthen our water infrastructure. I thank Senators Cardin, Boozman, and Inhofe for their partnership on this important issue.”

“Ensuring the next generation of water researchers are empowered to solve water-related challenges is an issue I care deeply about,” said Senator Inhofe. “That’s why I am proud to introduce the Water Resources Research Amendments Act alongside Sen. Cardin, bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes federal grant funding for water resources research institutes, including the Oklahoma Water Resources Center, located at OSU in Stillwater. This is good, bipartisan, and effective legislation that should quickly pass the Senate.”

The Water Resources Research Act Program is a federal-state partnership authorized by Section 104 of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 that plans, facilitates and conducts research to aid in the resolution of state and regional water problems. It also promotes technology transfer and the dissemination and application of research; trains scientists through participation in research; and awards competitive grants. Each state and territory has a water institute located at a land grant or other university designated by its governor that conducts important research on state and regional water challenges.

This new legislation authorizes appropriations for such institutes through FY2025 and establishes a 1:1 cost share across all grants in the program. The legislation also replaces the 3-year evaluation of grants with a 5-year evaluation that coincides with the 5-year grant period. This change streamlines the evaluation process by retaining the annual reporting to ensure that programs are on track.

The full text of the Water Resources Amendments Act (WRRA) can be found here.