Summary: S.203 — 101st Congress (1989-1990)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (06/28/1990)

Ground Water Research and Education Act of 1990 - Title I: Coordination of Federal Ground Water Research and Education Programs - Directs the President to coordinate groundwater research, assessment, and monitoring activities conducted by Federal agencies and establish an Interagency Ground Water Research Task Force which shall be: (1) chaired by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); (2) made up of key Federal agencies involved in groundwater research; and (3) responsible for identifying research data needs, recommending research priorities, facilitating interagency coordination, and consulting with State and local governments concerning groundwater research needs. Requires the Task Force to submit a biennial report to the Congress and the President that serves as the management plan for the Federal groundwater research program.

Establishes an Advisory Committee on Ground Water Research to advise the President and the Task Force on groundwater research issues.

Requires the Task Force to appoint a Data Management Committee to facilitate agency groundwater information systems.

Authorizes appropriations for the preceding activities for FY 1991 through 1995.

Amends the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 to require the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate each water research institute's research at least once every five years to determine whether it merits continued support. Extends the authorization of appropriations for such institutes through FY 1995.

Decreases the amount authorized to be appropriated for research concerning water resource-related problems. Extends such authorization through FY 1995.

Authorizes appropriations through FY 1995 for reimbursement of costs of additional research or the synthesis of research results on water problems of a regional or interstate nature.

Revises provisions concerning grants for water resource-related problems to direct the Secretary to make grants for technology development concerning water resources of State, regional, or national importance. Authorizes appropriations.

Extends the authorization of appropriations for specified High Plains States water resources research through FY 1994.

Title II: Ground Water Research Programs of the Federal Government - Part A: Programs of the Environmental Protection Agency - Directs the Administrator to establish a national research, development, and demonstration program to support the protection, maintenance, and restoration of groundwater resources of the United States. Requires such program to include research, demonstrations, and surveys of causes, prevention, and correction of groundwater contamination. States that priority shall be given to projects which demonstrate the fate of contaminants in groundwater and develop methods and procedures for controlling pollution sources, monitoring water quality, restoring contaminated groundwater, and reducing the contaminating effects of waste materials.

Directs the Administrator to establish a media-specific research committee for groundwater resources to report biennially for at least five years on the major research issues of groundwater resources, the current status of the research in such issues, and a plan for the succeeding three years. Requires such report to include a list of all major policy decisions affecting groundwater, control technology projects, health effects research, and other research related to groundwater. Makes such report the management plan for the program and requires its review by the Science Advisory Board and submission to the Congress. Directs the Administrator to appoint a Ground Water Research Manager in the Office of Research and Development to carry out such plan.

Directs the Administrator to establish a program of research to develop technologies for the control of groundwater pollution. Requires that such program be carried out utilizing demonstration projects through contracts, cooperative agreements, or grants. Requires the Administrator to evaluate projects on the basis of the potential of the proposed method to effectively control sources of contaminants presenting the greatest risk to human health, the environment, or groundwater and such method's potential application in other locations and circumstances as well as the technical and financial capacities of the project's proposer. Requires the Administrator to supervise and monitor such projects. Limits the Federal share to 50 percent of costs.

Directs the Administrator to conduct a technology transfer program and make information gathered pursuant to such program available through a technical transfer and information center. Requires such program to protect trade secrets from public disclosure.

Directs the Administrator to list contaminants known to occur in groundwater. Requires a biennial review and revision of such list, providing procedures for any person to petition for additions to such list. Requires the Director of the National Toxicology Program to develop and transmit to the Administrator a proposed research program for each listed contaminant which includes studies of chemical and physical properties, health and ecological effects, and its dispersion and persistence when released.

Directs the Administrator to publish health assessments for listed contaminants. Provides for the review and revision of such assessments at least every five years. Establishes a schedule for the publication of assessments.

Requires the Administrator to conduct nationwide groundwater quality surveys to identify the frequency and concentration of contaminants in groundwater associated with various categories of sources or potential sources of contaminants. Includes monitoring at public and private wells. Establishes a survey schedule for: (1) pesticide applications; (2) septic tanks and cesspools; (3) landfills, surface impoundments, and wastepiles; (4) Class V injection wells; (5) fertilizer applications; (6) irrigation return flows; (7) publicly owned treatment works; (8) light industry; and (9) transportation corridors. Requires the Administrator to complete the following preliminary phases to such surveys: (1) an analysis to determine the types and distribution of sources for each category; (2) the development and preparation of techniques and protocols to be used; and (3) the preparation of health advisories for each contaminant. Requires that groundwater quality surveys provide the Administrator with a clear understanding of the need for instituting contaminant source control strategies on a local, State, or national basis. Requires the Administrator to notify the water system or well owner when a contaminant is found, but requires that information released to the public be of a general nature. Directs the Administrator to notify the appropriate government authorities for response when a source for a contaminant is identified.

Requires the Administrator to provide the Congress with a plan for implementing these requirements and a status report on each survey which shall also be submitted to the President, the States, and the public.

Directs the Administrator to study and report on the public health effects of nitrates, nitrosamines, and other metabolites of nutrients and nitrogen in drinking water supplies, including sources, levels of exposures, and methods and costs of control.

Requires the Administrator to report to the Congress by September 1, 1991, on abandoned production and injection wells and the impacts that such wells may have on groundwater quality.

Requires peer review of all studies conducted under this Act. Authorizes the provision of facilities and equipment for demonstration projects under this Act, limiting construction of facilities on non-Federal land.

Requires the Administrator to make grants to universities or research institutions to establish and operate five groundwater research institutes to conduct research and training and disseminate information on the protection and restoration of groundwater. Bases selection on whether such institute would be located in a region making significant use of groundwater with significant contamination problems and the capacity of such institute to carry on and lead such research. Limits the Federal share to 50 percent of costs. Earmarks funds for technology transfer. Requires the Administrator to approve and evaluate each institute's research.

Authorizes the Administrator to assist local governments in financing the acquisition and installation of groundwater treatment technologies needed to remove radium from groundwater used as a source of public drinking water. Authorizes appropriations.

Authorizes appropriations for the programs under this part.

Part B: Programs of the Department of the Interior - States that the Department of the Interior has the principal Federal responsibility for research in the hydrologic sciences, for appraising the Nation's water resources, and for providing hydrologic information.

Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Geological Survey, to undertake research, investigations, assessments, surveys, and related activities of the Nation's water resources. Requires the Secretary to appoint a Ground Water Research Manager to provide central direction for groundwater research within the appropriate bureau. Authorizes the Secretary to cooperate with other government agencies and to perform such activities on a reimbursable basis, as specified. Includes regional aquifer systems analysis and a toxics hydrology program in such activities.

Requires the Secretary to report to specified congressional committees and the States on the Nation's water supply needs and the condition of groundwater and groundwater information and monitoring programs.

Directs the Secretary to establish a national groundwater quality and quantity assessment. Requires such program to coordinate government efforts in such area, seek to achieve uniform data collection, and provide information and assistance as required.

Authorizes the Secretary to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with national laboratories to carry out water resources research, development, and demonstration projects.

Authorizes appropriations for part B activities.

Part C: Ground Water Research Program of the Department of Agriculture - Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to appoint a Ground Water Research Manager to provide central direction for groundwater research among the Department's Divisions.

Authorizes appropriations for the evaluation of agricultural practices and groundwater use and specified agricultural research.

Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct an investigation and analysis and prepare reports for the Congress on the relationship between agricultural practices, policies, and groundwater use.

Directs the Agricultural Research Service to fund basic and applied research in groundwater, including control and monitoring technologies as they pertain to agricultural practices and uses of groundwater in rural areas.

Requires the Cooperative State Research Service to: (1) fund and coordinate the agricultural research program in the Land Grant University system; (2) coordinate the Agriculture Department's research efforts around the State and local data and information needs regarding contaminants; and (3) study the effects various soil types have on pesticide and fertilizer contamination in local groundwaters.

Authorizes appropriations to the Soil Conservation Service for a study into the impact of conservation tillage and other soil and water conservation practices on groundwater quality.

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Agricultural Research Service and the Cooperative State Research Service, to establish a national research, development, and demonstration program with respect to the impact of agricultural practices on groundwater quality, including the application of pesticides and nutrients, irrigation practices, and the operation of animal feedlots. Requires the Secretary to address: (1) chemical and biological interactions and processes, including the fate and transport of substances released by agricultural practices; (2) analytical models and testing methodology; and (3) management and control.

Requires the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish and co-chair an Agricultural Nitrogen Best Management Practices Committee to develop agricultural best management practices and educational materials to minimize the impact of agricultural nitrogen on public health and groundwater quality. Authorizes appropriations for such Committee for the first five fiscal years succeeding this Act's enactment.

Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct research on practices, methods, and techniques for improving the efficiency of fertilizer uses in agriculture. Authorizes appropriations for such research through FY 1995. Requires the Administrator to conduct a study and report to the Congress concerning the chemical constituents of commercial fertilizer products and the potential for such constituents to leach and contaminate groundwater. Authorizes appropriations for such study.

Requires the Administrator and the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study and report to the Congress on agricultural drainage wells, their impact on groundwater quality, alternatives to such wells, and the costs of closing existing wells. Authorizes appropriations.

Provides for the establishment of groundwater protection education programs. Authorizes appropriations for such programs through FY 1995.

Part D: Additional Provisions - Directs the Administrator, in cooperation with the Secretary of the Army, to study the Lake Okeechobee ecosystem in Florida to determine the relationship between surface and groundwater quality and the management and control of aquatic plants. Authorizes appropriations for such study through FY 1993. Requires the President to report annually to the Congress on such activities.

Authorizes the Administrator to establish a Western Center for Nuclear and Ground Water Research within Nevada to conduct and promote research into the protection of groundwater from nuclear and hazardous substances. Requires the Center to report annually to the Congress, the President, and the Governor of Nevada concerning its activities.