Both the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (EPW) and the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) held mark-up hearings this week for its respective WRDA bills. Two weeks ago, ASCE President Kristina Swallow testified at the Senate EPW Committee’s first hearing on the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. ASCE sent the Senate EPW Committee a letter in support of the bill. Additionally, ASCE applauds the inclusion of the Securing Required Funds for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act (S. 2364/H.R. 4902) in the Manager’s Amendment of the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Now Act (S. 2800), or its Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018.
WRDA bills are passed on a biennial cycle and are critically important to the health of our nation’s water resources, which in turn, play a crucial role in the nation’s economy, public safety, and the preservation of our environmental resources. Our nation’s levees, dams, inland waterways, and ports protect hundreds of communities, support millions of American jobs, and generate trillions of dollars of economic activity.
Both WRDA bills include reauthorization of the National Dam Safety Program and the National Levee Safety Program, which were two of ASCE members’ “asks” during the March 2018 Legislative Fly-In. The Senate bill also includes reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, which last month issued its first-ever loan to King County, Washington to help finance its Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station. The Senate bill also includes a provision that allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to retain user fees at recreation facilities for the use of operation, maintenance, and management at the site where the fee is collected. ASCE urges the committee to follow in the Trump Administration’s lead by authorizing new user fee collection and retention under the Section 5014 pilot program of WRRDA 2014.
ASCE has been a strong supporter of the bipartisan SRF WIN Act, which is legislation that seeks to help states fund critically important drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects by using a combination of the most successful aspects of both the WIFIA and State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. ASCE supports this bill because it offers a new and efficient tool to leverage limited federal resources and stimulate additional investment in our nation’s infrastructure while safeguarding against any cuts to the existing SRF and WIFIA programs. Co-sponsorship of this legislation was another of ASCE members’ “asks” during the March 2018 Legislative Fly-In. As advocates of alternative water resources financing mechanisms and innovative, resilient infrastructure, ASCE is pleased that a revised version of this bill was ultimately included in the Manager’s Amendment of the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
Having passed through both the Senate EPW Committee and the House T&I Committee, the WRDA bills now head to the Senate and House floors for a vote. Contact your Member of Congress and Senators asking them to prioritize the investment needs of our nation’s water resources systems by voting in favor of the Water Resources Development Act of 2018.