The Alliance for Water Efficiency has been hard at work to educate Congress on the benefits of improved water management, and these efforts are bearing fruit in the 111th Congress.

In late June, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454, a climate bill that also includes a federal procurement program for water efficiency and a multi-million dollar rebate/incentive program for consumers for water efficient products and services. It also authorizes WaterSense as a permanent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program. Focus now shifts to the Senate, where the Environment and Public Works Chairwoman, Barbara Boxer, is planning to mark up a similar yet broader climate bill to report out of committee before the August congressional recess.

To ensure needed support, the climate bill then may be coupled with a recently passed energy bill, moving the two bills together through the Senate in the Fall. The energy bill, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act, is a bi-partisan, comprehensive energy bill that includes provisions highlighting the nexus between water resources and energy production. In fact, all six Senate committees with jurisdiction on a climate and energy package will have to complete their action by mid-September in order to bring the final legislation to the floor by October.

While focusing heavily on its legislative priorities, Congress continues to work this month on bills of particular interest to water professionals, such as the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, S. 1005, the bill that amends and re-authorizes the clean water and safe drinking water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), expands eligibility for funding projects including water conservation, efficiency, reuse and recycling projects, and authorizes the EPA’s WaterSense program and a number of additional legislative priorities. Although a 20-percent set-aside for green projects currently is not included in S. 1005, it appears that language for a 20-percent set-aside similar to what was in the Stimulus Bill may end up in the FY 2010 Appropriations bill for the SRFs.