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                                                       Calendar No. 375
104th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     104-254



                 April 18, 1996.--Ordered to be printed


    Mr. Chafee, from the Committee on Environment and Public Works, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 811]

    The Committee on Environment and Public Works, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 811) to authorize research into the 
desalinization and reclamation of water and to authorize a 
program for States, cities, or qualifying agencies desiring to 
own and operate a water desalinization or reclamation facility 
or to develop such facilities, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that 
the bill, as amended, do pass.

                           general statement

    This legislation authorizes an expanded United States 
research and development program to produce lower-cost 
desalinization technologies; designates the primary program 
responsibility to the Department of the Interior (DOI), in 
coordination with the Department of the Army (DOA); authorizes 
a basic research and development program to be conducted by the 
DOI and the DOA; authorizes development of experimental 
desalinization facilities; requires the Agency for 
International Development to host a conference for countries 
either currently using or planning to use desalinization 
technologies; and requires the Secretary of the Interior, in 
consultation with the Secretary of the Army, to report yearly 
on the progress made in desalinization technology as a result 
of this legislation, as well as the agencies' plans for the 
following year.


    The history of the Federal Government's involvement in 
desalinization dates back several decades. In the 1950s and 
1960s, considerable effort and resources were devoted to 
research and development of desalinization technology, 
particularly during the Kennedy Administration. According to a 
1988 report by the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. 
industry was generally considered to be at the forefront of 
desalinization technology throughout the 1960s and into the 
1970s. When governmental support for this technology was 
eliminated during the 1970s, however, Japanese and European 
firms, some of which were supported by their respective 
governments, began obtaining contracts that previously would 
have been awarded to American firms.
    In the face of growing domestic water shortages, as well as 
strategic international concerns, the United States should 
renew its commitment to developing this key technology and once 
again move the United States into the forefront of 
desalinization technology development.

                           general discussion

    As the U.S. population shifts and grows, the need for 
developing cost-effective desalinization technologies becomes 
even more urgent. The most recent census data shows rapid 
growth in suburban areas throughout the United States. These 
areas are not simply becoming larger population centers, but 
centers of commerce and culture as well. Many demographers, 
reviewing the census data and the trends the data suggest, 
predict that the most significant constraint to the economic 
development of these new suburban centers will be the 
availability of water. Reservoirs previously devoted to meeting 
the needs of urban areas will not be able to meet the new, 
competing demands from the growing suburbs.
    Developing cost-effective, desalinization facilities for 
cities may well become critical to meeting the economic needs 
of suburbs throughout the Nation over the next few decades. 
Much of the growth is occurring near the coasts. Fortunately, 
one of the few places we can get additional water resources is 
from the ocean. California, with 840 miles of coastline, 
periodically faces serious water shortages. Florida, with 1,800 
miles of coastline, is facing increasing demands for water. The 
aquifers currently supplying Long Island's water needs are 
beginning to suffer salt water intrusion.
    Around the world, the arguments for further development of 
desalinization technology are equally compelling. In the Middle 
East and northern Africa, all available fresh surface and 
groundwater supplies are near full utilization, yet the 
predicament has received little attention. Water also has been 
an important consideration in the Middle East peace 
negotiations because of the existence of an aquifer that lies 
under the West Bank which supplies between 25 to 40 percent of 
Israel's water.
    A February 1994 World Bank study of water use trends in 
Israel, the West Bank and Jordan states: the need for 
significant quantities of desalinated water will rise in 2010. 
The period until that time will allow for development of 
technological solutions.
    Mauritania, a country in Northern Africa, grows only 8 
percent of its food because of inadequate water resources, yet 
it borders the Atlantic Ocean. The population of Egypt is 
growing and its water resources are diminishing, yet it is 
located on the Mediterranean Sea. Namibia faces serious water 
shortages in southern Africa and it is on the ocean.
    In 1990, about 60 percent of all available fresh water in 
Mexico was depleted. In 2000, this percentage is expected to 
increase to 85 percent. Water supply, both quantity and 
quality, will become one of Mexico's primary national problems 
in the near future.
    There are already water supply deficits and water quality 
problems in large cities and small towns. In addition, 
information on underground water availability is incomplete. 
The use of desalinated sea water would go a long way toward 
meeting the needs of these water deficient areas.
    Additional benefits to be obtained from further 
desalinization research are: reduction in the energy 
requirements for desalinating; wider practice of water 
reclamation and reuse; cost reduction in the removal of 
hazardous pollutants from ground and surface water; and 
decreased cost burden in complying with existing statutes.
    In 1961, President Kennedy stated:

        * * * if we could ever competitively, at a cheap rate, 
        get fresh water from salt water, * * * (this) would be 
        in the long-range interests of humanity which would 
        really dwarf any other scientific accomplishments.

    Those words are still true today. The reasons are 
compelling. The situation is clear and the time for action is 
now. Substantial Federal resources need to be dedicated to this 
important technology.

                      section-by-section analysis

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 states that the legislation may be cited as the 
``Water Desalinization Research and Development Act of 1996''.

Section 2. Declaration of policy

    Section 2 states that it is the policy of the United States 
to perform research and to develop low-cost alternatives in the 
desalinization and reuse of saline or biologically impaired 
water to provide water of suitable quality.

Section 3. Definitions

    Section 3 defines the following terms for purposes of this 
legislation: desalinization, nonusable nonsaline water, 
reclamation, saline water, sponsor, United States, and usable 

Section 4. Research and Development

    Section 4 gives primary responsibility for management and 
oversight for the research and development program to the 
Secretary of the Interior and directs the Secretary to 
coordinate activities with the Secretary of the Army.
    Currently, no coordination exists among the Federal 
agencies involved in desalinization research and development 
and construction. Centralized responsibility will help both the 
Federal government and the private sector avoid duplication and 
advance the U.S. desalinization market and application of this 
    The Department of the Interior and its Bureau of 
Reclamation have a history and expertise in desalinization, 
making it the appropriate agency to lead this effort. As home 
of the original Federal desalinization programs, the Department 
of the Interior has retained many employees from the Office of 
Saline Water and later the Office of Water and Research 
Technology. As the only Federal agency whose mission is to deal 
with national water supply, the Bureau's water conservation 
program plans for encouraging coastal communities to develop 
adequate local water supplies to reduce their dependence upon 
imported inland water are important to build upon.
    The Secretary of the Interior is to develop a management 
plan for promoting fundamental scientific research into the 
best and most economical processes and methods for converting 
saline water into fresh water. In addition, methods for the 
recovery of byproducts resulting from desalination are to be 
    The agencies are to use industrial or engineering firms, 
Federal laboratories, and educational institutions to conduct 
research and are encouraged to seek out and award grants to 
small inventors, in addition to universities and companies. 
Individual inventors and small organizations are valuable 
partners to have in promoting the goals of this legislation.

Section 5. Desalinization Development Program

    Section 5 creates the Desalinization Development Program. 
The program shall be administered jointly by the Secretary of 
the Interior and the Secretary of the Army. Interested parties 
shall submit applications for approval for desalinization 
projects and certify that they can provide at least 25 percent 
of the initial cost of the facility. Initial costs shall 
include design costs, construction costs, lands, easements, and 
rights-of-way costs, and relocation costs. A sponsor may pay up 
to 50 percent of the initial cost of the facility, but the 
initial cost may not exceed $10,000,000. The operation, 
maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation of the facility shall 
be the responsibility of the sponsor, who shall retain all 
revenue generated from the sale of the usable water.
    This section recognizes the necessity for establishing a 
demonstration/construction program for desalinization research. 
When fundamental research produces new ideas and technologies, 
it needs to be demonstrated that the new process or technology 
is safe and reliable.
    In addition, spending caps are included to ensure that the 
funds appropriated by this legislation are not concentrated in 
a single project or a select few.
    Because there are established relationships in different 
regions of the country with the Bureau of Reclamation and the 
Army Corps of Engineers, this section allows sponsors the 
flexibility of submitting proposals to either agency.

Section 6. Miscellaneous authorities

    Section 6 grants further authorities to the Secretary of 
the Interior and the Secretary of the Army to carry out this 
Act, including: accepting technical and administrative 
assistance from a State or other public entities and from 
private entities; acquiring processes, data, inventions, 
patents, lands, and other properties; assembling scientific 
literature; and conducting conferences relating to the 
desalinization of water.

Section 7. Desalinization conference

    Section 7 instructs the Agency on International Development 
to sponsor an international desalinization conference within 12 
months of the date of enactment of this Act. Conference 
participants should include scientists, private industry 
experts, desalinization experts and operators, and government 
officials. Participants should be from countries that use and 
conduct desalinization and from those countries that could 
benefit from low-cost desalinization technology. The purpose of 
the conference is to explore new technologies and methods to 
make desalinization a reality.

Section 8. Reports

    Section 8 directs the Secretary of the Interior, in 
consultation with the Secretary of the Army, to prepare an 
annual report to the President and to Congress on the actions 
taken during that year and the actions planned for the next 
year concerning the administration of this Act. In a further 
effort to avoid duplication, the report should provide 
information on desalinization activities being carried out in 
other agencies, but not authorized by this Act. Including this 
information will help identify where Federal resources should 
be directed.

Section 9. Authorization for appropriations

    Section 9 authorizes an increasing annual appropriation for 
basic research and development as well as a separate 
authorization for contributions to the construction of 
projects. For basic research and development, $5,000,000 is 
authorized in fiscal year 1997, and $7,500,000 in each of 
fiscal years 1998 through 2001.
    For the Desalinization Development Program, a total of 
$40,000,000 is authorized for fiscal years 1997 through 2001. 
Appropriations are to be made available in equal amounts to the 
Department of the Interior and the civil works program of the 
Army Corps of Engineers.


    No hearings were held on the bill.

                             Rollcall Votes

    Section 7(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate and the rules of the Committee on Environment and Public 
Works require that any rollcall votes taken during 
consideration of legislation be noted in the report on that 
    At the business meeting of the Committee on Environment and 
Public Works on March 28, 1996, the bill S. 811 was amended and 
ordered to be reported favorably by voice vote. No rollcall 
vote was taken.

                           Regulatory Impact

    In compliance with Section 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact of the bill.
    The bill does not create any additional regulatory burdens.

                          Cost of Legislation

    Section 403 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act requires that a statement of the cost of the 
reported bill, prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, be 
included in the report. That statement follows:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, April 17, 1996.
Hon. John H. Chafee,
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate, 
        Washington, DC.

    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 811, the Water 
Desalinization Research and Development Act of 1996.
    Enactment of S. 811 would not affect direct spending or 
receipts. Therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply 
to the bill.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them.
                                                   June E. O'Neill.


    1. Bill number: S. 811.
    2. Bill title: Water Desalinization Research and 
Development Act of 1996.
    3. Bill status: As ordered reported by the Senate Committee 
on Environment and Works on March 28, 1996.
    4. Bill purpose: S. 811 would authorize the Secretary of 
the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of the Army, 
          conduct research and development to determine the 
        most efficient means of converting saline water into 
        usable water; and
          establish a desalinization development program. 
        Local, State, or interstate agency sponsors would pay 
        at least 25 percent of the initial cost of facilities 
        constructed under the desalinization development 
        program. They also would be responsible for operating 
        and maintaining the facilities and would retain all 
        revenue generated by the sale of usable water.
    The bill also would require the Agency for International 
Development (AID) to sponsor an international desalinization 
conference within 12 months of the bill's enactment.
    5. Estimated cost to the Federal Government: Assuming 
appropriation of the amounts authorized by the bill, CBO 
estimates that enacting S. 811 would result in new 
discretionary spending totaling $52 million the 1996-2000 
period. Additional spending of $23 million would occur after 
2000 from amounts authorized by the bill. Outlays are estimated 
based on historical spending rates for similar programs. There 
is no funding under current law for the programs that would be 
authorized by S. 811.

                [By fiscal year, in millions of dollars]                
                 ,                 1996    1997    1998    1999    2000 
Spending subject to                                                     
 appropriations action:                                                 
    Estimated authorization                                             
     level......................       0      13      16      16      16
    Estimated outlays...........       0       7      14      15      16

    The costs of this bill fall within budget function 300.
    6. Basis of estimate: For research and development 
activities, the bill would authorize appropriations of $5 
million for fiscal year 1997, and $1.5 million for each of 
fiscal years 1998-2001. The bill would authorize $40 million 
over fiscal years 1997 through 2001 for the desalinization 
development program. For purposes of this estimate, we assume 
that funding for the desalinization program would be about $8 
million each year over the 1997-2001 period.
    The bill also would require AID to hold an international 
desalinization conference and to pay for it with existing 
funds. CBO estimates that cost of the conference would be less 
than $500,000, which would be spent mostly in fiscal year 1997.
    7. Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
    8. Estimated impact on State, local, and tribal 
governments: The bill contains no intergovernmental mandates as 
defined in Public Law 104-4, and would impose no new direct 
costs on State, local, or tribal governments.
    Water agencies that apply for and receive assistance under 
this program would be required to pay at least 25 percent of 
the initial design and construction costs of a desalinization 
facility. Assuming appropriations total $40 million for fiscal 
years 1997 through 2001, local, State, and interstate water 
agencies would contribute at least $13 million toward these 
costs over the same period. Federal contributions would be 
capped at $10 million per facility. Water agencies would be 
required to pay all the costs of operating, maintaining, and 
repairing the facilities and would retain all revenues from the 
sale of usable water.
    9. Estimated impact on the private sector: None.
    10. Previous CBO estimate: None.
    11. Estimate prepared by: Federal cost estimate--Gary Brown 
and Joseph Whitehill; State and local impacts--Pepper 
Santalucia; private sector impacts--Amy Downs.
    12. Estimate approved by: Robert R. Sunshine, for Paul N. 
Van de Water, Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with section 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, changes to existing law must be shown if 
applicable. No change to existing law would occur with passage 
of this legislation.