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Senate Committee Advances Funding for Water Recycling

Date: September 23, 2019

Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the FY 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which includes funding for key water recycling programs. The bill provides $20 million for competitive grants through the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program, administered by the Bureau of Reclamation. It also provides slightly more than $45 million for Title XVI “legacy” projects, which have been individually authorized by Congress through previous acts. Of the $65 million total for the Title XVI program, at least $20 million must be used for aquifer storage and recovery projects. The bill also provides $30 million for the Desalination and Water Purification Program.

In contrast to the Senate bill, the House version, which the full House passed in June, provides only $13,333,000 for Title XVI competitive grants and just $14,125,000 for the desalination program, though it does provide increased funding for Title XVI legacy projects. 

Senate leadership is currently negotiating how to move spending bills to the floor for full Senate consideration. Much of the conversation revolves around if and how to fund further construction of the southern border wall. Senate Democrats have significant concerns about current funding allocations, as decided by the Majority, which provide a significant funding increase for the border wall at the expense of other domestic spending bills, primarily the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The CR runs through November 21, and will be taken up by the Senate in the coming days. Upon passage of the CR, top appropriators and House and Senate leadership will work to negotiate final allocations and funding numbers for FY 2020.

The WateReuse Association will continue to strongly urge congressional negotiators to include at least $20 million for Title XVI competitive grants and robust funding levels for the desalination and Title XVI legacy programs.

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