WateReuse members testify before Senate committee

In testimony before the U.S. Senate on Aug. 2, four WateReuse Association members highlighted water reuse as a key strategy in developing reliable local water supplies. The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power, convened the hearing to examine increasing water security and drought preparedness through infrastructure, management and innovation.

“WateReuse members are leading the nation in advancing water reuse,” said WateReuse President Guy Carpenter of Carollo Engineers. “Because of their commitment to science-based policy, communities across the nation are providing a safe, reliable, locally-controlled water supply by recycling water.”

Hosted by Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Angus King (I-Maine), the hearing’s witness panel included state and local officials, business leaders and an academic.

“Oftentimes discussions on water policy at the federal level are dictated by costs,” Sen. Flake said in his opening remarks. “However, it’s important that Congress also consider the barriers that local communities face as they plan and pursue new water projects.”

Tom Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, explained that his state has a philosophy regarding drought preparedness and water management that includes continuously developing and improving laws, policy, and infrastructure. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in the Phoenix metropolitan area is as an example. The facility uses treated municipal wastewater to produce up to 4,200 megawatts of power for about 4 million people in four states.

“Arizona was reusing substantial volumes of reclaimed water long before reuse became a common practice,” Buschatzke said in his testimony.

Offering a utility perspective, Shirlee Zane, board chairwoman for the Sonoma County Water Agency in California, added that her agency relies on a diverse portfolio of water sources to maintain a secure supply, including recycled water, groundwater, and surface water storage.

Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO of GE Power—Water & Process Technologies, recommended that Congress develop policies that would promote more rapid adoption of water reuse solutions such as reducing regulatory and cost barriers, providing financial incentives, and requiring more water recycling.

“One of the biggest opportunities the world has yet to capitalize on is the reuse of wastewater streams to alleviate the pressure of finding and creating new water resources,” Markhoff said.

Carlos A. Riva, president and CEO of Poseidon Resources, testified about the benefits of public-private partnerships. Poseidon Resources is a Boston-based private firm that has successfully partnered with communities to develop water reuse and desalination projects. Riva said that the time is right for Congress to encourage and remove barriers to the wider use of such partnerships.

The Subcommittee also heard testimony from Martha Sheils, director of the New England Environmental Finance Center at the University of Southern Maine, who added that water security is essential to grow the economy, protect public health, and ensure national security.

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