July 27, 2021

Rep. Mike Levin Reintroduces Legislation to Support Sustainable Desalination Projects

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA)  reintroduced legislation to raise the funding authorization for the Bureau of Reclamation’s desalination grant program. The Desalination Development Act authorizes $260 million over the next five years for desalination projects and creates new environmental safeguards for the funded projects.

The bill expands a federal program that has delivered funding for local projects like the South Coast Water District’s Doheny Ocean Desalination Project and the City of Oceanside’s Mission Basin Groundwater Purification Facility Well Expansion and Brine Minimization project.

“With climate change increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme droughts in California, we must advance environmentally sound policies that increase our local supply of potable water,” said Rep. Levin. “By investing in responsible desalination projects, we will enhance emergency preparedness and increase the flow of clean, locally-sourced water to our communities. I’m hopeful this policy will advance as part of infrastructure legislation this year.”

The bill would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to submit project funding recommendations to Congress based on specific criteria, prioritizing projects that benefit drought-stricken communities. It would also require projects to comply with all state environmental laws, maximize the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and reduce reliance on imported water supplies from imperiled ecosystems.

“I’m proud to support Congressman Levin’s legislation to expand the desalination grant program, which has bolstered Oceanside’s local, drought-proof, and environmentally-friendly water supply,” said Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez. “The new funding from this bill can help meet the needs for water projects that have smaller environmental footprints, enhancing the resilience of other cities' water supplies such as ours.”

“As California and much of the American West is facing one of the most severe and prolonged droughts in history, we applaud Congressman Levin’s leadership in introducing the Desalination Development Act,” said South Coast Water District Board President Rick Erkeneff. “This important legislation will help provide much-needed Federal investments in state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly ocean desalination projects to provide communities like ours in South Orange County with a safe, reliable, drought-proof, and locally controlled supply of clean water.”

“The Desalination Development Act will help regions improve their water independence by providing federal funding for projects that increase supply resiliency and insulate communities from future droughts,” said San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher. “We appreciate Congressman Levin’s leadership in recognizing and supporting the development of seawater desalination as a critical water source for our county, state and nation.”

Rep. Levin leads the reintroduction of the Desalination Development Act with Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA), Chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.