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House T&I Plans WRDA Bill Intro Next Week

Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment has announced plans to introduce a very focused and streamlined version of the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) next week before the Memorial Day Recess.  The measure is expected to concentrate on projects approved by the Army Corps of Engineers in areas such as flood control, environmental restoration, and dredging and other navigational improvement projects.

In the House, Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) shares responsibility for water projects with Energy & Commerce (E&C).  The two committees have very clear lines of authority – T&I manages water resources through WRDA and wastewater through the CWA while E&C oversees actions related to drinking water (SDWA) and public health protection efforts.  Because of this delineation, the House WRDA bill will not include any drinking water related provisions that have not been considered or waived by E&C.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has responsibility for water resources, wastewater, and drinking water programs.  As reported last week, their bill (passed April 28) includes all of the traditional Corps projects but adds significant new provisions related to drinking water such as:  increased funding for the DWSRF and CWSRF, new language for disadvantaged communities, removal of the term “pilot” when considering WIFIA, and detailed provisions related to lead in drinking water as a result of the Flint, MI crisis.

Generally, WRDA reauthorizations receive positive support from both Congressional chambers.  This time, with the Senate version taking on nontraditional provisions and including significant funding increases, the road to enactment may not be as smooth.

ASDWA will continue to keep you informed as these measures are introduced, marked up, and considered on the House and Senate Floors.