WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., applaud the signing of the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation Act, or PRECIP Act, into law. This legislation will update out-of-date precipitation data in the U.S. by providing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with funding and guidance to conduct future research. The PRECIP Act will direct NOAA to study ongoing changes in precipitation that will help communities better prepare for extreme weather and flooding events and to work with the National Academies to complete a consensus study on the best practices for estimating precipitation. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J.
“Flooding regularly puts American lives and property at risk, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses each year,” Wicker said. “One threat from flooding is dam failure, and in Mississippi there are hundreds of state-regulated dams with a high hazard potential. Forty-two of these dams have failed and nine others have been drained. With this important legislation signed into law, dam control managers can get the data they need to improve dam safety and protect Americans.”
“We must take every necessary step to protect our communities from the increasing frequency of natural disasters caused by climate change -- like historic rainfall and flooding throughout the country,” Booker said. “I am proud that this bipartisan legislation has been signed into law and will provide NOAA with vital funding to consult with partner organizations and conduct studies to modernize and improve our nation’s precipitation data. This will be essential as we continue to face the realities of climate change and extreme weather across the country.”
Specifically, the PRECIP Act requires NOAA to:
- Update precipitation frequency estimates for the United States. NOAA must include specified information in the updates and must make publicly available certain precipitation frequency estimate studies.
- Seek to enter an agreement with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on the state of practice and research needs for precipitation estimation, including probable maximum precipitation estimation.
- Consult with relevant partners on the development of a plan to update probable maximum precipitation estimates.
- Develop guidance regarding probable maximum precipitation estimates that (1) provides best practices for federal and state regulatory agencies, private meteorological consultants, and other users that perform probable maximum precipitation studies; (2) considers the recommendations provided in the National Academies study; (3) facilitates review of probable maximum precipitation studies by regulatory agencies; and (4) provides confidence in regional and site-specific probable maximum precipitation estimates.
The PRECIP Act is supported by: Pew Charitable Trusts, Jacobs, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), Geospatial Equipment & Technology Institute (GETI), National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), US Geospatial Executives Organization (U.S. GEO), Waterfront Alliance, Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), Union of Concerned Scientists, Iowa Flood Center, American Public Works Association (APWA).
The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.