[104th Congress Public Law 298]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[DOCID: f:publ298.104]

[[Page 3621]]

                     WATER DESALINATION ACT OF 1996

[[Page 110 STAT. 3622]]

Public Law 104-298
104th Congress

                                 An Act

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct studies regarding 
        the desalination of water and water reuse, and for other 
             purposes. <<NOTE: Oct. 11, 1996 -  [S. 811]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Water Desalination Act of 
1996.>>  assembled,

SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 42 USC 10301 note.>>  SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Water Desalination Act of 1996''.

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 42 USC 10301 note.>>  DEFINITIONS.

    As used in this Act:
            (1) Desalination or desalting.--The terms ``desalination'' 
        or ``desalting'' mean the use of any process or technique for 
        the removal and, when feasible, adaptation to beneficial use, of 
        organic and inorganic elements and compounds from saline or 
        biologically impaired waters, by itself or in conjunction with 
        other processes.
            (2) Saline water.--The term ``saline water'' means sea 
        water, brackish water, and other mineralized or chemically 
        impaired water.
            (3) United states.--The term ``United States'' means the 
        States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the 
        Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories and possessions 
        of the United States.
            (4) Usable water.--The term ``usable water'' means water of 
        a high quality suitable for environmental enhancement, 
        agricultural, industrial, municipal, and other beneficial 
        consumptive or nonconsumptive uses.
            (5) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of the Interior.


    (a) In General.--In order to determine the most cost-effective and 
technologically efficient means by which usable water can be produced 
from saline water or water otherwise impaired or contaminated, the 
Secretary is authorized to award grants and to enter into contracts, to 
the extent provided in advance in appropriation Acts, to conduct, 
encourage, and assist in the financing of research to develop processes 
for converting saline water into water suitable for beneficial uses. 
Awards of research grants and contracts under this section shall be made 
on the basis of a competitive, merit-reviewed process. Research and 
study topics authorized by this section include--
            (1) investigating desalination processes;

[[Page 110 STAT. 3623]]

            (2) ascertaining the optimum mix of investment and operating 
            (3) determining the best designs for different conditions of 
            (4) investigating methods of increasing the economic 
        efficiency of desalination processes through dual-purpose co-
        facilities with other processes involving the use of water;
            (5) conducting or contracting for technical work, including 
        the design, construction, and testing of pilot systems and test 
        beds, to develop desalting processes and concepts;
            (6) studying methods for the recovery of byproducts 
        resulting from desalination to offset the costs of treatment and 
        to reduce environmental impacts from those byproducts; and
            (7) salinity modeling and toxicity analysis of brine 
        discharges, cost reduction strategies for constructing and 
        operating desalination facilities, and the horticultural effects 
        of desalinated water used for irrigation.

    (b) Project Recommendations and Reports to the Congress.--As soon as 
practicable and within three years after the date of enactment of this 
Act, the Secretary shall recommend to Congress desalination 
demonstration projects or full-scale desalination projects to carry out 
the purposes of this Act and to further evaluate and implement the 
results of research and studies conducted under the authority of this 
section. Recommendations for projects shall be accompanied by reports on 
the engineering and economic feasibility of proposed projects and their 
environmental impacts.
    (c) Authority To Engage Others.--In carrying out research and 
studies authorized in this section, the Secretary may engage the 
necessary personnel, industrial or engineering firms, Federal 
laboratories, water resources research and technology institutes, other 
facilities, and educational institutions suitable to conduct 
investigations and studies authorized under this section.
    (d) Alternative Technologies.--In carrying out the purposes of this 
Act, the Secretary shall ensure that at least three separate 
technologies are evaluated and demonstrated for the purposes of 
accomplishing desalination.


    (a) In General.--In order to further demonstrate the feasibility of 
desalination processes investigated either independently or in research 
conducted pursuant to section 3, the Secretary shall administer and 
conduct a demonstration and development program for water desalination 
and related activities, including the following:
            (1) Desalination plants and modules.--Conduct or contract 
        for technical work, including the design, construction, and 
        testing of plants and modules to develop desalination processes 
        and concepts.
            (2) Byproducts.--Study methods for the marketing of 
        byproducts resulting from the desalting of water to offset the 
        costs of treatment and to reduce environmental impacts of those 
            (3) Economic surveys.--Conduct economic studies and surveys 
        to determine present and prospective costs of producing water 
        for beneficial purposes in various locations by desalination 
        processes compared to other methods.

[[Page 110 STAT. 3624]]

    (b) Cooperative Agreements.--Federal participation in desalination 
activities may be conducted through cooperative agreements, including 
cost-sharing agreements, with non-Federal public utilities and State and 
local governmental agencies and other entities, in order to develop 
recommendations for Federal participation in processes and plants 
utilizing desalting technologies for the production of water.


    All information from studies sponsored or funded under authority of 
this Act shall be considered public information.


    The Secretary may--
            (1) accept technical and administrative assistance from 
        States and public or private agencies in connection with 
        studies, surveys, location, construction, operation, and other 
        work relating to the desalting of water, and
            (2) enter into contracts or agreements stating the purposes 
        for which the assistance is contributed and providing for the 
        sharing of costs between the Secretary and any such agency.

SEC. 7. <<NOTE: 42 USC 10301 note.>>  COST SHARING.

    The Federal share of the cost of a research, study, or demonstration 
project or a desalination development project or activity carried out 
under this Act shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the 
project or research or study activity. A Federal contribution in excess 
of 25 percent for a project carried out under this Act may not be made 
unless the Secretary determines that the project is not feasible without 
such increased Federal contribution. <<NOTE: Regulations.>>  The 
Secretary shall prescribe appropriate procedures to implement the 
provisions of this section. Costs of operation, maintenance, repair, and 
rehabilitation of facilities funded under the authority of this Act 
shall be non-Federal responsibilities.


    (a) Section 3.--There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out 
section 3 of this Act $5,000,000 per year for fiscal years 1997 through 
2002. Of these amounts, up to $1,000,000 in each fiscal year may be 
awarded to institutions of higher education, including United States-
Mexico binational research foundations and interuniversity research 
programs established by the two countries, for research grants without 
any cost-sharing requirement.
    (b) Section 4.--There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out 
section 4 of this Act $25,000,000 for fiscal years 1997 through 2002.

[[Page 110 STAT. 3625]]

SEC. <<NOTE: 42 USC 10301 note.>>  9. CONSULTATION.

    In carrying out the provisions of this Act, the Secretary shall 
consult with the heads of other Federal agencies, including the 
Secretary of the Army, which have experience in conducting desalination 
research or operating desalination facilities. The authorization 
provided for in this Act shall not prohibit other agencies from carrying 
out separately authorized programs for desalination research or 

    Approved October 11, 1996.


HOUSE REPORTS: No. 104-790, Pt. 1 (Comm. on Resources).
SENATE REPORTS: No. 104-254 (Comm. on Environment and Public Works).
            May 3, considered and passed Senate.
            Sept. 24, considered and passed House, amended.
            Sept. 27, Senate concurred in House amendments.