U.S. House of Representatives approval of the 2020 Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, would authorize at least $8.6 billion in federal funds for 38 new Army Corps of Engineers construction projects and make important changes to funding mechanisms for Corps projects. Work noted in the WRDA includes flood and storm protection, river and port navigation and environmental restoration improvements.
ENR estimates the total cost of the projects, including nonfederal shares, is more than $13 billion.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told WaterwaysJournal.net the measure also would accomplish one of his top priorities by unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and investing that revenue in the nation’s ports and harbors.
“This legislation will allow for the approximately $10 billion in already collected HMT funds to be used to ensure the maintenance needs of ports and harbors across the country are met,” DeFazio said.
“In addition, the legislation sets aside funding specifically to meet the needs of emerging harbors, including improvements to jetties and breakwaters.” He also pointed to provisions on 30-plus feasibility studies and the construction of roughly the same number of pending projects with final Chief’s Reports within the agency’s civil works mission areas.
Waterways Council Inc. said the bill would address its top priority by adjusting the cost-share for construction and major rehabilitation of inland waterways projects from 50% from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and 50% from the general fund to 65% from the general fund and 35% from the trust fund.
The WRDA has strong support from Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders and the rank and file from both parties. But it may wait as the Senate debates the coronavirus-relief bill introduced July 27.