Congress Begins Work on Water Resources Development Act for 2010
February 2, 2010
The Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on November 18, 2009 to receive testimony from Members of Congress on issues and proposals for consideration of a Water Resources Development Act of 2010, which authorizes infrastructure projects from the Army Corps of Engineers. AGC laid out its priorities for a WRDA 2010 in a letter sent to all Members of the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The first step in a Corps water resources development project is a study on the feasibility of the project. If the Corps has conducted a study in the area before, a new study can be authorized by a resolution by either the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee or the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. If the area has not been previously studied by the Corps, then an Act of Congress is necessary to authorize the study. The majority of studies are authorized by Committee resolution. After a feasibility study is completed, the results and recommendations of the study are submitted to Congress, usually in the form of a report of the Chief of Engineers. If such results and recommendations are favorable, the next step is authorization. Project authorizations are contained in water resources development acts, which are traditionally enacted on a biennial schedule. After a project is authorized, it would still require an appropriation of Federal funds to proceed to construction.
A key issue AGC has raised over the past several years was discussed during the hearing when Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-La.) strongly advocated the need to firewall user fees collected from the Harbor Maintenance Tax and ensure 100 percent of the funds are spent for the purpose of funding dredging projects. In 2008, less than half the funds collected were spent out of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
AGC will continue to press for passage of a WRDA 2010 bill during the 111thCongress.