For Immediate Release
June 10, 2015
Sue Walitsky/Marty Welch 202-224-4524 (Cardin)
Sara Lasure 202-224-4843 (Boozman)
Cardin, Boozman Hail Senate Passage of the Water Resources Research Amendments Act
WRRA-funded projects maximize cost-effective solutions for water resource issues across the country
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), both members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), welcomed Senate passage of their bill, (S. 653) 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. The Water Resources Research Amendments Act (WRRA) provides continued federal support for important research on state and regional water challenges. The legislation provides training for hydrologists and other water-related scientists and engineers, and funds public outreach and education on water issues. Each institute is located at a land grant university or another university designated by the governor. First authorized in 1964, WRRA was most recently reauthorized in 2006, in PL 109-471. The current authorization expired in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.
“America’s environmental, economic and public health are intrinsically linked to our ability to dependably access clean, safe water,” said Senator Cardin. “The WRRA helps give our states and territories the tools they need to provide the water access that citizens expect and deserve. In the face of extreme droughts and record flooding, I urge the House of Representatives to take up and pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation.”
“I am pleased that my colleagues support this efficient and effective research program which helps Arkansas and other states to solve serious water quality and quantity problems. WRRA allows the Arkansas Water Resources Center and its sister institutions across the country to solve real-world problems like how we can grow crops while using less water and lowering costs. The program accomplishes this while requiring the highest match per recipient of any federal research program. WRRA is the type of cost-effective proven solution that Washington should seek to model other programs after,”Senator Boozman said.
The Water Resources Research Amendments Act authorizes $7.5 million per year for grants to water research institutes to fund research that fosters: (a) improvements in water supply reliability; (b) the exploration of new ideas that address water problems or expand understanding of water and water-related phenomena; (c) the entry of new scientists, engineers and technicians into water resources field; and the dissemination of research to water managers and the public. Grants must be matched by two-to-one with non-federal funding. In FY 2010, Congress appropriated approximately $5.5 million for this grant program resulting in a $92,335 base grant for each institute.
An independent review panel has judged that the Water Resources Research Institutes command significant funding leverage for the modest amount of appropriations required to support it.
WRRA further authorizes a national competitive grant program to address regional water issues that is authorized at $1.5 million per year. In FY 2010 approximately $1 million was appropriated. These competitive grants must be matched one-to-one with non-federal funding.
WRRA reauthorizes both research grant programs for an additional five years at the same funding levels. It also enables research on sustainable infrastructure, expands the reporting requirement to include status reports on grant funding matches, and makes other technical improvements.
In Maryland, several of the tools used for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay were products of these same grants in previous years. WRRA Researchers across the Mid-Atlantic States have developed innovative ways to keep the Chesapeake waters cleaner through urban stormwater treatment, improved roadway design, and eco-friendly poultry farming practices. WRRA-funded projects maximize cost-effective solutions for similar water resource issues across the country. Funding for WRRA is, incontrovertibly, a necessary and pragmatic investment in the future of our water resources.