The U.S. Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) issued a letter of support for the introduction of H.R. 2738, the “Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act of 2011.” The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), will authorize a new EPA program offering competitive grant funds to help water systems adapt to the impacts of changing hydrological conditions – including those resulting from global climate change.

“In the decades ahead, the nation’s water and wastewater systems are expected to face a series of water quality and quantity challenges brought on by severe drought, melting snowpack, more frequent heavy precipitation events, and rising sea levels,” said Diane VanDe Hei, AMWA’s Executive Director, in a prepared statement. “The ‘Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act’ will help communities access the tools they need to maintain clean and safe water service despite these new obstacles.”

The new legislation, which is based on proposals that were originally introduced in the 111th Congress, directs EPA to establish a grant program through which water and wastewater systems will compete for matching funds to plan or implement water infrastructure projects made necessary by changing hydrological conditions. For example, utilities may propose projects to rebuild or relocate water infrastructure, develop new water supplies, engage in sourcewater protection or other “green infrastructure” initiatives, increase water efficiency, or undertake studies to identify future scenarios for which they must prepare.

According to AMWA, adapting to hydrological conditions brought about by climate change may cost U.S. water and wastewater systems nearly $1 trillion through 2050. The proposed bill would authorize $50 million per year to help utilities begin addressing needs.