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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Water Quality Bills in the Remainder of the 111th Congress

Claudia Copeland
Specialist in Resources and Environmental Policy

The Senate and House could consider a number of water quality bills some time during the remaining days of the 111th Congress. Recent press reports have indicated that legislators, especially in the Senate, are seeking to gather support for several bills, possibly packaged with others dealing with public lands and wildlife protection. This report describes 10 water quality bills pending in the Senate that could be candidates for consideration during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress.

All of the water quality issues discussed below have been highlighted in recent press reports for inclusion in a package. All but one would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA), and all were approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in recent weeks. Similar House bills have been introduced for all but one of the Senate measures discussed in this report, and the House has passed two of them. With the exception of a bill on Chesapeake Bay, the individual bills are not likely to be considered controversial. Most of the individual bills would either reauthorize existing CWA provisions that address water quality concerns in specified geographic areas, or would establish similar provisions for other regions or watersheds. These water quality issues and related 111
th Congress bills are:
  • Estuaries under the CWA’s National Estuary Program (H.R. 4715), 
  • Chesapeake Bay (S. 1816), 
  • Columbia River Basin (S. 4016), 
  • Great Lakes (S. 3073 and S. 933), 
  • Gulf of Mexico (S. 1311), 
  • Lake Tahoe (S. 2724), 
  • Long Island Sound (S. 3119), 
  • Puget Sound (S. 2739), and 
  • San Francisco Bay (S. 3539). 
The descriptions in this report are based on bills as reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, although if any of the bills were to receive further consideration, provisions could differ from the reported version or amendments offered. Further, if the Senate or House were to consider a group of water quality bills, the package might include more or fewer than those discussed here. Also, whether sufficient time remains for necessary action by both the Senate and House is highly uncertain. .

Date of Report: December 13, 2010
Number of Pages: 11
Order Number: R41517
Price: $29.95

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