Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., has introduced legislation to increase the federal government's role in developing desalination plants. Identical legislation has been re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Jim Davis, D-Fla., and Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., the U.S. Desalination Coalition said.

Sen. Martinez, who serves on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced Senate bill S.1016, “The Desalination Water Supply Shortage Prevention Act of 2005.” It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The legislation would establish, within the Department of Energy (DOE), a program to provide Energy Assistance Payments to desalination projects following a competitive process.

Funding for the program would come from DOE's renewable energy program, and authorize $200 million over 10 years.