Members of Congress call for greater public input on water issues
The U.S. House of Representatives adjourned on Friday, and the U.S. Senate is likely to adjourn this week. This is the “half-way” mark for the 113th Congress—the two-year legislative period—which has been a busy one for water issues. The House and Senate have considered issues and authorizations of water-related programs such as:
- Program reauthorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water resources activities, including ports and harbors (and the impacts on international trade), environmental restoration of major water systems, repair and recovery activities (e.g. post-Superstorm Sandy)—and the opportunities for public input and project partnerships on these activities
- Water and wastewater infrastructure—and how infrastructure is financed;
- Energy and water—and how opportunities for efficiency are linked;
- The Farm Bill, food stamps, and the relationship between water, food and agriculture, and rural economic development international water issues such as water security, foreign aid on water and sanitation and health, and opportunities to export U.S. water technologies
- Maintenance of federal water data systems used by decision-makers such as local water utilities, and research programs for new understanding and new technologies related to water
- Drinking water quality and protection of water in and so much more.
Throughout the year, Congress has also called for input from the public—people knowledgeable about water, who can help to identify not just the problems but potential solutions—and can do so in a way that Members of Congress and their staff can digest and integrate into legislative activities.
“We need you to educate us all in what you know—and you need to hear from us what some of our concerns are and will continue to be,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32).
Cat Shrier, founder of The Water Citizen Network, said, “Ask not what Congress knows about water. Ask what water citizens know about Congress.”