On April 20, the Senate voted 85 – 12 to pass what could be the first broad energy bill in nearly a decade. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) includes a bipartisan amendment that would authorize the WaterSense program within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The program authorization language in the Senate bill is similar to the WaterSense amendment included in the House energy bill (H.R. 8), which passed in December. As part of both bills, WaterSense would be authorized as a voluntary program that promotes water efficient buildings, landscape facilities, processes, services and products, including irrigation technologies.
With the Senate bill now approved, both chambers of Congress will need to appoint conferees to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. Leaders in both the House and Senate are hopeful that a formal conference will occur. However, timing of this reconciliation is uncertain since it is an election year and because the White House has threatened to veto the House energy bill.
The Irrigation Association believes that congressional authorization of WaterSense would bring greater permanency to the successful program and allow for the better promotion of efficient irrigation technologies and practices.
Since its inception in 2006, WaterSense has raised awareness about the importance of water efficiency. IA collaborated with the EPA to create this voluntary program and is proud to be the first and longest-serving certifying partner of WaterSense. Going forward, IA will continue to promote the program and will work with key sponsors of both the House and Senate amendments to ensure that the authorization of WaterSense remains in the final energy bill.
Key WaterSense amendment sponsors include: Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Robert Portman (R-OH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA).