Congressman Adam Smith was pleased to see his bill, HR 2115 the Lakehaven Utility District Wastewater Reclamation and Reuse Project, pass the Power and Water Subcommittee of the Resources Committee by a unanimous vote today.

“While I have been pushing this project for the past few years in Congress, I believe it is especially timely now due to the effects of this year’s drought in the Pacific Northwest,” said Smith. “I am thankful that as Ranking Member on the Water & Power Resources Subcommittee, I was able to aid in this environmentally friendly bill’s passage. It is now my hope that we will be able get this legislation through the full committee.”

HR 2115 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of a project to reclaim and reuse wastewater within and outside of the service area of the Lakehaven Utility District, Washington. The authorization of this bill would allow the Lakehaven Utility District to be eligible for up to a 25% federal match for the development and construction this project. The federal government’s estimated share for the project is about $8 million. 

“This bill will allow Lakehaven to reuse and reclaim water which is currently not being utilized and essentially being wasted,” said Smith. “This is especially important because of the current strain on our groundwater supplies that has been exasperated by this year’s drought. Not only is the demand for water increasing, but we are also depleting our groundwater supply. This legislation will increase our usable water and recharge the aquifer.”

Lakehaven Utility District is one of Washington state’s largest water and sewer utilities district, providing ten million gallons of water a day to approximately 100,000 residents, encompassing the city of Federal Way, and portions of Des Moines, Kent, Auburn, Pacific, Algona, Milton, King County and Pierce County. 

The utility district uses groundwater sources that are recharged primarily from local precipitation. While development has reduced the ability for these aquifers to naturally recharge, the demand for water from these sources has increased to exceed their safe production limits and simultaneously, a reduction in these aquifer levels has decreased well water production. The Lakehaven Utility District has two secondary wastewater treatment plants currently discharging over six million gallons of water a day to Puget Sound. This project, if enacted, would recapture that water and treat some of it for reuse to irrigate golf courses and other facilities, while the rest of the water would be returned to the aquifer through injections wells. The reuse of water for non-drinking purposes is expected to ease the demands on the groundwater supply.

The bill must now be heard and pass the full Resources committee. Although there is no given time line on that, Smith will soon be formally requesting a full committee mark-up of his legislation from Resources Committee Chairman, Rep. Hansen of Utah.