April 28, 2022

Reps. Mike Levin and Nancy Mace Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Environmentally Responsible Desalination Projects

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Desalination Research Advancement Act, which would reauthorize the Bureau of Reclamation’s desalination research grant authorities and increase its funding authorization from $5 million per year to $20 million per year through FY 2026.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Desalination and Water Purification Research (DWPR) Program provides funding for desalination efforts that reduce environmental impacts, lower energy consumption, and develop more advanced desalination technologies. Currently the DWPR Program is prohibited from providing more than $1 million in total grants for academic institutions, effectively preventing federal investments in modern, innovative desalination and water purification research, as academic institutions are typically the first to take risks on new technologies. Rep. Levin’s bill would increase the cap on annual funding for academic research grants under the program to $15 million. The bill would also add research on approaches to better monitor and decrease the impact of seawater desalination on coastal ecosystems to the DWPR Program’s list of priority funding areas.

“As we confront increasingly frequent and intense droughts in California, we must advance desalination projects that use the latest technologies to protect our environment while increasing our local supply of drinking water,” said Rep. Levin. “This bipartisan bill will ensure the federal government is making adequate investments in academic institutions and others that are doing this critical work, which can support projects like the South Coast Water District’s Doheny Ocean Desalination Project. I look forward to partnering with Rep. Mace to advance this bill and help secure water independence for communities across the country.”

“I represent many coastal communities in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and I know how important the desalination process is in providing clean drinking water. By re-authorizing grants in the Desalination and Water Purification Research Program, we can ensure our technology can provide clean drinking water for years to come,” said Rep. Mace. “This legislation will have a direct impact on the Hilton Head Public Service District’s Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Facility and help it treat brackish groundwater at an affordable price for ratepayers.”

Previously, Rep. Levin 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. Similar to Rep. Levin’s bill, the bipartisan infrastructure law included $250 million for desalination projects, as well as $1 billion for water recycling projects.