US Senate introduces Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities--or STREAM--Act to increase water supply, modernize water infrastructure throughout West; bill to provide more than US$1B for water desalination, storage, recycling

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WASHINGTON , June 23, 2023 (press release) –

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) today introduced the Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities Act or STREAM Act to increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure throughout the West.

“As the last years have proven, climate change is making severe and prolonged drought a stark reality for the West. We must act now to improve our resilience to severe drought in the future,” Senator Feinstein said. “We need an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to meet this challenge, including increasing our water supply, incentivizing projects that provide environmental benefits and drinking water for disadvantaged communities, and investing in environmental restoration efforts.”

“Water conservation is a top priority for states throughout the West, and we need every tool possible to combat this historic drought,” said Senator Kelly. “The STREAM Act will support essential improvements to our water infrastructure and enable bold investments in water recycling and desalination projects. I’m proud to partner with Senators Feinstein and Sinema to secure the West’s water future.” 

“We’re building on investments from our bipartisan infrastructure law to modernize and increase Arizona’s water supply and ensure economic security for everyday Arizonans,” said Senator Sinema.

 “After more than a dozen atmospheric rivers this winter and historic snowpack levels, ACWA is pleased to support the reintroduction of Senator Feinstein’s STREAM Act. The STREAM Act champions an every-tool-in-the-toolbox approach which is critical to California water management as we continue to navigate the challenges of climate whiplash. ACWA appreciates Senator Feinstein’s continued leadership on Western water issues,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

The STREAM Act would:

Improve the West’s water supply

  • Authorizes $750 million for storage, $300 million for water recycling, $150 million for desalination, and $100 million for drinking water for disadvantaged communities. This builds on the $1.15 billion for storage, $1 billion for water recycling and $250 million for desalination in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

  • In combination with the bipartisan infrastructure law, this funding would provide California with more than 1 million additional acre-feet of water per year on average, enough water for more than 6 million people, including:

    • 532,000 additional acre-feet from water recycling projects.

    • Approximately 400,000 additional acre-feet from offstream storage and groundwater storage projects (including construction of Sites Reservoir, expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the raising of B.F. Sisk Dam, plus other potential projects like the Sacramento Regional Groundwater Bank and Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir).

    • 85,000 additional acre-feet from water desalination projects.

  • In Arizona, the bill further advances a proposal to raise Bartlett Dam on the Verde River to counteract the loss of capacity due in part to the accumulation of sediment. The groundwater storage and conveyance, desalination and water recycling funding in the bill could also help other Arizona drought resilience projects.

Provide financial incentives for storage and conveyance projects that enhance environmental benefits and expand drinking water access for disadvantaged communities

  • The bill authorizes grants for storage and conveyance projects that include environmental benefits, drinking water benefits for disadvantaged communities or other public benefits either as part of the project design or as part of a watershed restoration plan adopted together with the project.

  • The bill authorizes low-interest loans if they build storage and conveyance projects that solely provide irrigation and general municipal and industrial water supply benefits. (Sponsors of storage and conveyance projects generally prefer to receive federal grants rather than federal loans.)

  • Access to grants gives project sponsors a strong financial incentive to design environmental and disadvantaged community benefits into their projects.  This approach builds on the experience of the Proposition 1 water bond California’s voters passed by a 2-1 margin in 2014, which also incentivizes projects with environmental and other public benefits.

Fund separate environmental restoration projects

  • Authorizes $250 million for environmental restoration benefits, including helping imperiled species adapt to climate change.

  • Authorizes an additional $50 million for natural water retention and release projects. These projects would help restore stream and river channels with natural materials like wetlands and could have multiple benefits, including increased groundwater recharge, improved flood protection and increased floodplain habitat to benefit salmon and other species.

  • Authorizes funding to facilitate creation of essential seasonal habitat for migratory birds on fields fallowed by agricultural producers in the Sacramento Valley when they sell their water to other farmers and cities during times of drought.

  • Authorizes pay-for-performance environmental restoration approaches that award grants contingent on the success of the restoration effort. These approaches can expedite environmental restoration and build public/private partnerships to increase the number of acres restored.

Bill materials:

  • A one-page summary of the bill is available here.

  • A section-by-section analysis of the bill is available here.

  • A list of supporters of the bill is available here.


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