House bill would create program to coordinate water R&D

A House-passed bill would create a program to coordinate water research and development activities among federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, which runs a hydropower R&D program.

The House passed the National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009 on April 23, on a vote of 413-10. The measure moved to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The legislation includes an amendment sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., for an assessment of potential water storage projects that would enhance water supply, water planning, and other beneficial uses. Hastings’ office said the amendment would allow water storage reservoirs and their hydropower projects to be eligible for programs that increase energy efficiency efforts and partnerships.

The bill would direct the president to implement a National Water Research and Development Initiative and establish an interagency committee to implement the initiative. The initiative is intended to improve the federal government’s role in designing and implementing federal water research, development, demonstration, data collection and dissemination, education, and technology transfer activities. Those activities are to address changes in water use, supply, and demand.

The interagency committee is to coordinate all federal research, development, demonstration, data collection and dissemination, education, and technology transfer activities pertaining to water. The committee also is to develop a national water research and assessment plan that encourages cooperation among federal agencies and state, local, and tribal governments on water-related research. The bill states the idea is to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure optimal use of resources and expertise.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy would chair the new committee. The panel would include representatives of the Office of Management and Budget, and agencies that conduct research involving water or that are responsible for resources that affect water supply and water quality.

DOE’s hydro R&D program received $40 million in appropriations for this fiscal year. (HNN 3/11/09) DOE is offering $15 million to national laboratories to address technical challenges in waterpower development and barriers to market acceptance, and up to $12 million to support R&D of advanced waterpower technologies. (HNN 4/9/09)

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