July 11, 2019

Representative Mike Levin Introduces Legislation to Create New Environmental Safeguards and Increase Funding for Desalination Projects

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced legislation to raise the funding authorization in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for desalination projects to $260 million over the next five years, and create new environmental safeguards for the funded projects. Levin’s bill, the Desalination Development Act, would help strengthen Southern California’s water independence by supporting 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.

The bill, cosponsored by Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA), would require projects to comply with all state environmental laws, such as California’s Ocean Plan; and prioritize projects with subsurface intakes, projects that use renewable energy and more efficient desalination processes, and projects that reduce imported water use.

“After years of extreme droughts, dangerous heat waves, and increasingly frequent wildfires, it is critical that we strengthen Southern California’s water independence and embrace environmentally-friendly desalination projects,” said Representative Levin. “This bill shows how we can expand desalination - a reliable and independent source of local water - while also being good stewards of our environment by prioritizing projects that use subsurface intakes and renewable energy sources. While we strengthen Southern Californian’s water independence, we must continue to encourage Californians and all Americans to reduce their water consumption. I’m grateful to Congressman Huffman for his partnership on this legislation and look forward to House Natural Resources Committee hearings on the bill in the coming weeks.”

Earlier this year, Representative Levin announced that the South Coast Water District and the City of Oceanside are set to receive more than $11 million from the Bureau of Reclamation for desalination projects in the 49th District. Under the Desalination Development Act, both projects could receive additional funding. The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide federal funding for up to 25 percent of the total cost of an eligible desalination project.

Full text of the Desalination Development Act is available here.