• Congressional Action on Water Resources Development Act
  • June 28, 2013 | Author: John J. Jaskot
  • Law Firm: Jones Walker LLP - Washington Office
  • Congressional activity has picked up in the consideration of the next Water Resources Development Act ("WRDA") for the authorization of Corps of Engineers activities, programs, and projects. In particular, and with the support of the Louisiana delegation, the Senate recently passed its version of the WRDA bill on May 15, 2013, on a vote of 83-to-14. Senator David Vitter, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, worked closely with Chairman Boxer in the development of this key legislation.

    The Senate WRDA bill contains numerous projects of importance to Louisiana and the maritime community. Specific key provisions include the following:

    • provides for increased expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund ("HMTF") to dredge Mississippi River and other Louisiana ports to their authorized depth and width
    • prioritizes and institutes project delivery reforms for inland navigation projects, and would federalize the remaining costs of the Olmsted lock and dam project to free up Inland Waterways Trust Fund ("IWTF") funding for other high priority projects (such as the Industrial Canal lock replacement project)
    • provides a new innovative water resources financing mechanism for communities to receive federal loans to construct critical water and wastewater facilities
    • creates a pilot program to eliminate government bureaucratic delays and expedite Corps of Engineers projects by delegating more project management responsibility to state and local governments

    The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, under the Chairmanship of Congressman Shuster, is working now on the development of the House version of a WRDA bill. Movement on that House bill is expected later this year.