On May 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) conference report by an overwhelming vote of 412 to 4. The Senate followed suit on the 22nd, passing WRRDA by a 91 to 7 margin and sending it to the president for signature. AED’s letter of support is available here.
House Passes Water Resources Reform and Development Act
The legislation authorizes Army Corps of Engineers programs, including waterway and watershed management projects such as construction of locks and dams. Provisions in the final bill will accelerate Corps project delivery by streamlining environmental reviews, setting hard deadlines and consolidating (or eliminating) duplicative studies.
AGC: New Water Resources Bill Provides Needed Reform and Investment
In order to leverage private capital, WRRDA establishes a Water Infrastructure Finance Innovations Authority (WIFIA) to provide credit assistance for drinking water, wastewater and water resources infrastructure projects. The five-year pilot program will attract substantial private and non-federal investments to water infrastructure projects and is modeled after a highly successful program used in the surface transportation space (the Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act [TIFIA] program).
The final bill also includes much needed reforms to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), including adding greater flexibility to the program. The CWSRF has been the traditional mechanism for sewer infrastructure investment, but hasn’t been reauthorized since 1987.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), WRRDA authorizes $12.3 billion in spending over ten years. This estimated total includes over $4 billion in authorization for water resources infrastructure investment.
In addition to providing much needed funding for navigation and dam projects, the completion of the WRRDA bill is significant because it clears the way for House Transportation & Infrastructure and Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee members to focus their full attention on saving the federal highway program.
View the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s bill summary.