The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080) with much fanfare today. As the title proves, the bill is one of the most policy and reform focused Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA) to be introduced in the past few decades. Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) joined the Water Resources Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Tim Bishop (D-NY) to unveil the legislation this afternoon. The bill marks a movement toward bipartisan legislation coming out of the House T&I Committee once again.
WRRDA works to consolidate or eliminate duplicative studies, requires concurrent reviews, and streamlines environmental reviews in order to cut the time for project approvals from approximately 15 years on average to 3 years. The legislation also has language that would allow for the reauthorization of the National Dam Safety program, which would include a public awareness component. The legislation however does not create an independent National Levee Safety program, but instead would allow the Corps to assist states in creating their own programs. Additionally, similar to the Senate bill, the House WRRDA bill would incrementally increase expenditures out of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, with the goal to spend 80% of the funds annually by 2020.
ASCE is pleased to see that the House is taking the steps necessary to pass a WRDA bill this year and looks forward to working with the Committee to see the bill through until passage. In the meantime mark your calendars for the T&I Committee mark-up of the bill on September 19th!