(Washington, DC) – Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced HR 1145, The National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009. The bill will coordinate national research and development efforts on water and work to ensure adequate water supplies in the future, in the face of predicted droughts. Predicted droughts will be exacerbated by increases in population and energy demand and shifting weather patterns caused by climate change.
“Water is essential to everything—industry, agriculture, recreation, and creating power—and there is no substitute for it,” said Gordon. “If we are to meet the water crises of the future, we need an effective research and development effort that provides tools and information to manage our water resources effectively. Coordination of the twenty federal agencies responsible for water programs is a logical place to start.”
Water shortages can negatively affect companies and entire industries and reduce job creation and retention. Current industry trajectories, population growth, and dwindling water supplies all point to increased water shortages. Increased water demand will come with increased costs to all businesses, industries, and municipalities which rely on the same water resources.
The bill builds on previous efforts to coordinate federal research on water resources by establishing an interagency committee—the Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) of the National Science and Technology Council. The bill codifies this subcommittee and provides it explicit Congressional authorization.
The bill also incorporates recommendations from the 2004 report by the National Academies of Science entitled, Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Federal Research. The report indicated that SWAQ is an effective forum for agencies to share information about their efforts on water. However, the report identified several issues that needed to be addressed to make SWAQ an effective coordinating body.
“We need to pursue technological innovations to ensure future water supplies, and to ensure that federal dollars spent on these efforts are utilized in a cost-effective manner,” said Gordon. “We know that the U.S. is not getting its money worth on water resources research because of a lack of coordination. This bill is a step towards rectifying that.”