Duarte pitches bipartisan bill to fund water technology grants

The five-year program would help water utilities use a variety of new technology to increase water resources.

Last week, Rep. John Duarte (R – Modesto) introduced the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Modernization Act to create federal grant programs aimed at increasing the use of smart water technologies. 

Duarte teamed up with Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego to author the bill. 


The big picture: The Water Infrastructure Modernization Act would provide $50 million in new EPA funding for grants which water utilities can use to purchase and implement new technology. 

  • Such technology includes identifying water loss, examining pipe integrity, detecting leaks, preparing for severe weather and innovating water storage systems, among others. 
  • The grants would be dished out in two programs over a five-year period. 

By the numbers: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, aging and outdated infrastructure leads to the loss of 2.1 trillion gallons of treated drinking water and 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage nationwide annually. 

  • Those infrastructure issues served as the driving force behind Duarte and Gallego developing the bill. 

Go deeper: The grant programs would set aside 20 percent of the funds for communities that have a maximum of 10,000 people. Another 10 percent would be set aside for Tribal communities. 

What they’re saying: “I think it’s fairly low-impact improvements that could yield an extra million acre feet of water for California, which is a big deal,” Duarte said. “Today, with the same infrastructure we had in place 20 years ago, we’re actually delivering 2.5 million acre feet less water than we used to. So hopefully with the new technology we can get back at least closer to where we were.” 

  • Duarte said he is happy to cross the aisle and partner with Gallego on the bill to work on “sensible solutions to increase our water availability.” 
  • “It’s $50 million,” Duarte said. “It’s not going to build entirely new dams, but both in his district and my district we’ve got a lot of infrastructure that just needs to be upgraded. We need to apply some technologies. There’s a lot of flow technology, automated weirs that can improve the efficiency.” 
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