House Approves Historic Water Resources Infrastructure Reforms

Washington, DC – The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly (417 to 3) approved bipartisan water resources reform legislation that cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamlines the infrastructure project delivery process, fosters fiscal responsibility, and strengthens our water transportation networks to promote America’s competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.

H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY). 

Through WRRDA, Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its missions to develop, maintain, and support the Nation’s vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, and support effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.  Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps, but no bill has been signed into law since 2007. 

“WRRDA is the most policy and reform focused legislation of its kind in the last two decades,” Shuster said.  “This bill contains no earmarks, cuts red tape for improvements that will strengthen our economic competitiveness, streamlines the infrastructure review process, and deauthorizes $12 billion of outdated projects in order to more than fully offset new authorized Corps activities.  Fundamentally, this bill is about jobs.  Not just the jobs in constructing these improvements to our infrastructure, but current and future jobs that will depend on a modern, efficient transportation system that will allow American businesses to compete and prosper in a global marketplace.”

“It has been six long years since we have passed water resources legislation,” said Rahall.  “The bipartisan bill approved today stops the finger in the dike solutions to our water infrastructure challenges and instead invests in these corridors of commerce which create jobs and support increased economic opportunity.”

“As Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation passed,” said Chairman Gibbs.  “This legislation will cut red tape and streamline the infrastructure authorization process while promoting fiscal responsibility. It is important that we as a country remain globally competitive and this bill brings our infrastructure into the 21st century.  At a time of economic stagnation, this essential, reform-driven jobs bill helps to move our country forward and gets Americans back to work.”

“To run a 21st century economy, we need a 21st century infrastructure, and strategic investments in America’s aging harbors and inland waterways will spur job creation and lay the foundation for sustained economic growth,” saidBishop. “Passage of this bipartisan jobs legislation in the House of Representatives marks significant progress in our work to build the port and river infrastructure America needs to compete in a global economy.”

Highlights of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013

Reforms Bureaucracy, Accelerates Project Delivery, and Streamlines Environmental Reviews

•  Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies

•  Consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews 

•  Streamlines environmental reviews

Fiscally Responsible

•  Deauthorizes $12 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRDA 2007

•  Fully offsets new authorizations with deauthorizations

•  Sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs

•  Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps

Strengthens Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability

•  NO earmarks

•  Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight 

Increases Flexibility for Non-Federal Interests

•  Maximizes the ability of non-federal interests to contribute their own funds to move authorized studies and projects forward

•  Expands the ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite the evaluation and processing of permits

•  Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Program

Improves Competitiveness, Creates Jobs, and Strengthens Water Resources Infrastructure

•  Authorizes needed investments in America’s ports

•  Supports underserved, emerging ports

•  Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund

•  Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs

David L. Reynolds
Director of Federal Relations
Association of California Water Agencies