Water Resources Development Act signed into law

   The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, included as Title I of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021) and providing for investment in harbor, waterway, flood protection and other water infrastructure improvements throughout the country, was signed into law Tuesday.
   John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said the project to deepen and widen the Norfolk Harbor’s commercial shipping channels secured full federal authorization with the president’s signature.
   “Virginia’s inclusion in this legislation will ultimately provide us the means to better serve our ocean carrier customers by allowing them to sail the biggest ships in their fleets to Virginia,” Reinhart said. “When Wider, Deeper, Safer is coupled with the $700 million investment we are making to expand capacity at our main container terminals, cargo owners throughout the mid-Atlantic and the nation’s heartland benefit because the speed of exports and imports flowing through Virginia will increase.”
   Another project that will secure funding thanks to the legislation is construction of a second 1,200-foot lock at the Soo Locks, a key priority for Michigan, according to Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell.
   Inclusion of the authorization followed an Army Corps of Engineers report released in June that urged the building of a second lock because of the Soo Locks’ strategic value and vital importance to America’s economy and national security, Mitchell said. 
   “Any failure at Soo Locks would have a devastating ripple effect on our nation’s economy and national security,” Mitchell said.
   WRDA 2018 authorizes at least $9 billion for Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects and Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water and sewer-overflow control programs. The legislation also includes funding for the deepening of the Savannah Harbor in Georgia and replacement of the Chickamauga Lock on the Tennessee River.
   The bipartisan leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee released statements Tuesday applauding passage of the legislation.
   Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the law “a win for our nation’s coastal communities. This critical legislation authorizes water infrastructure projects developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will strengthen our ports, harbors and waterways and will create and sustain jobs.” 
   Garret Graves, R-La., chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, said, “The status quo gives Washington job security, but it doesn’t represent the priorities of the American people. We’re changing that.
   “This bill is about delivering proactive solutions so that communities actually benefit from enhanced flood protection instead of having to endure decades of studies and inaction; so state, local and other folks on the ground can play a larger role in getting projects built faster and at lower costs to taxpayers; so permitting starts to make sense and we stop paying for redundant studies that only delay projects and the restoration of the environment, and so our economy keeps growing through investments in our shipping capabilities that allow us to keep pace with global trends,” Grave said. “With transparency and accountability, we’re shifting the focus away from pushing paper and putting it where it belongs: on turning dirt and getting the work done.” 
   Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., ranking member of the subcommittee, said, “This law builds on the work we have begun in previous WRDAs at focusing the Army Corps of Engineers on water supply in arid regions, such as Southern California. It also improves EPA programs for storm water, water recycling and sewer overflow projects; increases water workforce training to address new technologies and a retiring workforce; and it creates a national standard for water-efficient products.”