Napolitano seeks to reauthorize US desalination act

A bill, HR 745, to reauthorize the 1996 Water Desalination Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives by California representative Grace Napolitano on 15 February 2013.

The bill would fund federal research and development projects into desalination beyond 30 September 2013 when the current authorization expires.

“Desalination is critical for the future of a reliable, sustainable water supply, especially for our western states,” Napolitano said. “We must continue to provide federal funding to enhance technologies for producing new water from the ocean in order to combat drought, population growth, and climate change. Increasing our desalination efforts will drive down costs and be a powerful engine for economic growth, and I urge my colleagues to support these critical programs.”

HR 745 would allocate US$ 3 million a year through 2018. Since 1996, projects or studies have been funded in more than half of the 50 states, with 38 projects being funded in California alone. The program was reauthorized in December 2011 and will expire on 30 September 2013 if the US Congress does not act.

The programs’ discoveries, says Napolitano, include: determining how to dispose of saline wastewater; establishing uniform industry standards for common desalination components; funding “brackish” water projects to desalinate groundwater; discovering how to withdraw seawater from below the seafloor to minimize environmental damage; and developing reverse- osmosis membrane pretreatment to improve desalination.

Napolitano is the ranking member of the Water & Power Subcommittee on the House Natural Resources Committee.