WRDA: WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT
America’s marine transportation system is vital to our nation’s competitiveness and economic growth. The system safely, efficiently and cost-effectively transports hundreds of commodities like petroleum, coal, industrial chemicals, building materials and agricultural products to destinations within the United States and to deep water ports for export. The inland waterways and ports are maintained and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), but it’s up to Congress to provide authority and funding for maintenance and operations.
The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is the primary legislative vehicle through which specific projects are authorized while annual appropriations bills are the legislative vehicle that funds these projects. WRDA authorizes new projects for flood protection, port improvement and upgrades to the nation’s aging locks and dams infrastructure. Additionally, the legislation promotes projects that improve hydropower, municipal and industrial water supply, ecosystem restoration and recreational opportunities.
In 1986 Congress adopted a major overhaul of Army Corps programs and envisioned new WRDA legislation every two years. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened that way. It’s been nearly six years since the previous WRDA passed in 2007 — and Congress had to override a Presidential veto to pass the legislation. Before that the previous authorization passed in 2000.
As a result, the Corps has been chronically underfunded and system maintenance has fallen behind. Critical new projects can’t get started and those projects that do receive funds move slowly as resources are stretched to meet multiple priorities.
The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure plans to consider H.R. 3080, the "Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013," on September 19th and the Chamber is asking for your help. We urge you to support investment in our nation’s infrastructure and make this issue a priority. Please add your company/organization name below to be included in our letter to Congress.
For further information, please contact Drew Preston at email@example.com or (202) 463-5618.
On May 15, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a WRDA reauthorization bill in a strong bipartisan vote of 83-14. Prior to that vote, the Chamber sent a multi-industry letter to the Senate urging them to take action on WRDA. To view the full text of the Senate letter with signatories, click here.
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The undersigned organizations urge you to move forward on H.R. 3080, the “Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA),” as soon as practicable. Long overdue, H.R. 3080 would reform and authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Army Corps) Civil Works programs and policies related to navigation, flood risk management, recreation, infrastructure and environmental stewardship.
This legislation would be an important step toward providing critical economic benefits to the nation, its people and businesses. Strategic investments in the nation’s navigation network have a dramatic direct-employment effect on the hardest hit segment of the economy—construction—while simultaneously delivering substantial benefits to the country’s global competitiveness. Based on a 2012 report conducted by the Associated Equipment Distributors, one dollar spent on infrastructure construction produces roughly double ($1.92) the initial spending in direct and indirect economic output. The long-term impact is also significant, with a dollar in aggregate public infrastructure spending generating $3.21 in economic output (GDP) over a 20-year period.
Maintaining our nation’s Federal channels to constructed dimensions and deepening channels to ensure the U.S. continues to have a world-class maritime transportation system are of critical importance to the health of the port and barge industries and the businesses and jobs that rely on them. International trade accounts for more than a quarter of the nation’s GDP and more than 38 million American jobs.
The United States needs to create a modern lock and dam infrastructure on the nation’s inland waterways. Effectively, all of America’s exports in commodities such as coal, fuel oils, gasoline, crude petroleum, and agriculture products such as grain and soy beans are shipped by water. Waterways are critical to keeping our domestic supply chain competitive. There is a $14-per-ton cost savings for shipping on the inland waterways; this translates to farmer, shipper, and consumer cost savings, and reduced congestion on the roads and rails. However, while the private sector constantly updates its operations, our 21st century economy relies on 1930s-era technology for locks and dams.
Levees got a D- in the most recent American Society of Civil Engineers report card. A WRDA reauthorization bill should improve the safety of the nation’s dams and levees that protect communities, farms, manufacturing facilities and assets.
H.R. 3080 would deliver reforms and policies that would speed the Army Corps project delivery process, prioritize investments, provide resilience, protect communities, and keep faith with the Constitutional responsibility for supporting interstate commerce. Together, these results would create and sustain jobs and support the nation’s economy.
While a bill addressing a range of water issues and policies is not without some controversy, the United States should not miss opportunities to spur economic growth, improve our global competitiveness, and create jobs. We urge the House to move forward with consideration of H.R. 3080—the time to act is now.