Kelly, Risch, Gallego, Katko Introduce Bill to Boost Access to Clean Water with Smart Water Technologies

Today, U.S. Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and James Risch (R-ID) and Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and John Katko (R-NY) introduced new legislation to boost access to clean and reliable water for families and businesses by supporting investments in smart water technologies that make water and wastewater systems more resilient. 

The Water Infrastructure Modernization Act, led by Kelly, authorizes a five-year, $50 million EPA grant program to help municipal water systems and publicly owned wastewater treatments systems make investments in smart water technologies, like pipeline monitoring, real-time leak detection technologies, smart meters, and other technologies that use artificial intelligence and intelligent optimization tools. As a result, this bill would not only work to modernize water networks but also lower up‐front costs, decrease ongoing operating costs, and improve the delivery of safe and reliable water supplies for families and businesses across the country. 

With an estimated 2.1 trillion gallons of treated drinking water lost due to aging water infrastructure each year, investments in smart water technologies can also help water utilities detect and prevent leaks, which is especially critical in regions with ongoing drought conditions.

“Our bipartisan legislation would boost and improve access to clean and reliable water by investing in smart water technologies that help Arizona families and businesses conserve and use water more efficiently,” said Sen. Kelly, who negotiated key Arizona water infrastructure provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. “As Arizonans begin to see investments from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, it is critical that we continue to invest in making our state’s water and wastewater infrastructure more efficient and resilient for generations to come.”

“Access to clean drinking water and wastewater treatment technologies is important for all communities, but the challenges rural areas face weren’t taken into account when federal regulations on water systems were written,” said Sen. Risch. “This bill will help ensure communities throughout Idaho have access to the clean drinking water and modernized water treatment systems they need.”

“Access to water is a necessity if Arizona wants to protect itself from the effects of climate change and continue growing at the rate we are witnessing,” said Rep. Gallego. “There is no clearer indicator than the bathtub ring at Lake Mead that shows just how quickly we need to act if we want to tackle the water shortage crisis. That is why it is so important that we invest in technologies that increase our water efficiency. If we are going to meet this challenge, we need to start thinking of new ways to approach water infrastructure, and I am proud to lead on this issue with the introduction of the Water Infrastructure Modernization Act.”

“Today, I introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to protect access to clean water in Central New York,” said Rep. Katko. “My bill, the Water Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021, will expand on local efforts to develop and deploy smart water technology in Central New York. By making this technology more widespread, we will be taking meaningful steps to improve water quality and bolster the reliability and sustainability of our water systems.”

“AZ Water Association commends Senator Kelly and Representative Gallego for taking action to enhance water and wastewater system operations through smart water technologies. The Water Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021 supports increased water efficiencies and also addresses the drought related concerns and long-term needs of Arizona’s communities. This act aligns with AZ Water Association’s vision of ensuring a vibrant Arizona through safe, reliable and resilient water,” said Brandy Kelso, President, AZ Water Association

“Tucson Water appreciates the attention to water leadership and innovation by Senator Kelly and Representative Gallego in their Water Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021. Technology can play a critically important role in addressing our water challenges. The bill would provide funding opportunities for the latest technology that municipal water utilities, such as Tucson Water, could use to improve leak detection, demand management and conservation, and system planning,” said John Kmiec, Acting Director, Tucson Water.

The bipartisan legislation is also supported by national organizations including the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA), the WateReuse Association, Water Environment Federation, and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.

You can read the full text of the legislation HERE.