House approves the Water Resources Development Act of 2022

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2022, a bipartisan bill that will improve ports and harbors, inland waterway navigation, flood and storm protection, and other water resources infrastructure throughout the United States. 

Congress has regularly approved bipartisan WRDA legislation every two years since 2014 to authorize water resources infrastructure projects carried out by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  With the Nation continuing to deal with the impacts of a supply chain crisis, there is an urgent need to move forward projects and policies that strengthen this vital component of the transportation network.

This year’s WRDA, H.R. 7776, focuses on projects that are locally-driven but have regional and national benefits, rather than on significant national policy changes.

“Effective ports, inland waterways, and flood protection infrastructure all help to strengthen and keep our economy moving, and with the current supply chain crisis, it’s more critical than ever to support water infrastructure and protect our communities,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican leader Sam Graves (R-MO).  “Flood protection in particular is something North Missouri relies on, and when the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are mismanaged, it not only damages navigation channels that are essential to our economy, it also threatens the people and property along the Rivers.  It’s critical to make sure the Corps does not lose focus of its navigation and flood control responsibilities, and this bill does just that.”

Graves joined Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC) in introducing H.R. 7776 last month.

Official text of the legislation is available here.

More information on WRDA 2022 can be found here.

Critically, the bill includes the following priorities for Missourians:

Interception-Rearing Complexes (IRCs)

WRDA 2022 places strict limitations on the construction of new IRCs on the Missouri river and ensures the Corps of Engineers takes immediate action to address any negative impacts on navigation, flood control, or bank erosion caused by the construction of IRCs. Additionally, the bill requires all mitigation lands along the Missouri River acquired with federal funds to be counted towards the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Projects goal of 166,000 acres. Currently, only lands acquired or mitigated with Corps of Engineers BSNP Mitigation funds can be counted. Land mitigated with funding from other federal agencies is not counted.

Levee Maintenance

In 2014, the Corps of Engineers placed new video inspection requirements on local levee districts. This new requirement left levee districts staring down massive bills to perform the required inspections to stay in the PL 84-99 program. In some cases, local levee districts don’t even have the legal authority to raise local taxes enough to fund these inspections. WRDA 2022 reverses this unfunded mandate and requires the Corps to work with levee districts to get these inspections done and ensure districts remain in compliance.

Bank Erosion

This legislation creates a new demonstration program to address bank erosion impacting levee districts and private landowners on the Lower Missouri River based on prior efforts on the Upper Missouri River.

Projects in North Missouri

The bill also creates the Northern Missouri Environmental Assistance Project, which will help fund $50 million worth of sewer and stormwater projects in St. Joseph, Hannibal, Camden Point, Excelsior Springs, and Smithville, Missouri.

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