WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) today introduced the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation Act, or PRECIP Act, legislation that would update out-of-date precipitation data in the U.S. by providing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with funding and guidance to conduct future research.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 would also direct NOAA to studythe 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 earlier this year by Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11).

“We must take every step possible to protect our communities from the increasing frequency of disasters like the historic flooding and rainfall New Jersey experienced this summer from the remnants of Hurricane Ida,” said Sen. Booker. “This bipartisan bill would provide NOAA with vital funding to consult with partner organizations and conduct studies to modernize and improve our nation’s precipitation data, which is needed now more than ever as communities in New Jersey and across the country face the realities of climate change and extreme weather. The new data will be especially useful as we invest in climate-resilient infrastructure to strengthen and safeguard our communities.”

“Flooding regularly puts American lives and property at risk, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses each year,” said Sen. Wicker. “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. We need better data to help flood control managers improve dam safety and to update methods used to estimate the risk of failure.”

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: the Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, the Geospatial Equipment & Technology Institute, the National Society of Professional Surveyors, the U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization, the Waterfront Alliance, Association of State Floodplain Managers, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Iowa Flood Center, and the American Public Works Association.

Full text of the legislation can be viewed here.