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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Water Quality Bills in the Lame Duck Session of the 111th Congress

Claudia Copeland
Specialist in Resources and Environmental Policy

Early in December 2010, press reports indicated that legislators, especially in the Senate, were seeking to gather support for several water quality bills that could be considered during the postelection, lame duck session of the 111th Congress, possibly packaged with others dealing with public lands and wildlife protection. These discussions resulted in a comprehensive bill, titled “America’s Great Outdoors Act of 2010,” that was introduced in the Senate on December 17 (S.Amdt. 4845 to S. 303). This report describes water quality bills that were included in the legislative package.

All but one of the bills discussed below would have amended the Clean Water Act (CWA), and all had been approved and reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Similar House bills were introduced for all but one of the Senate measures, and the House had passed two of them. With the exception of a bill on Chesapeake Bay, the individual bills were not considered controversial. Most of the individual bills would either have reauthorized and in some cases modified existing CWA provisions that address water quality concerns in specified geographic areas, or would have established similar provisions for other regions or watersheds. The 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), 
  • San Francisco Bay (S. 3539), and 
  • Monitoring water quality of coastal recreation waters (S. 878). 
The 111th Congress adjourned sine die on December 22 without taking up either the omnibus bill or individual measures that were included in S.Amdt. 4845. Whether the 112th Congress will consider some or all of these bills is unknown for now. .

Date of Report: December 23, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R41517
Price: $29.95

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