On Wednesday, October 23rd, the House passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013. WRRDA was designed to limit the federal government’s role in water infrastructure development and to lay the groundwork for increased private sector and state-level oversight. And according to Representative Mark Meadows (NC-11), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, it also limits the time and money the federal government can spend on feasibility studies “that have held up vital projects for decades and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” he said.
“WRRDA’s passage protects more than 13 million jobs and supports our maritime system that handles 99% of our nation’s trade,” he added.
WRRDA passed by a margin of 417 to 3. The bipartisan legislation is expected to streamline and reform the process for major water and maritime infrastructure projects including dredging projects.
“This will give our U.S. ports and inland waterways the tools to streamline the unwieldy federal process and red- tape for strategic infrastructure initiatives while laying the ground work for economic growth,” said Paul Anderson, Tampa Port Authority president and CEO. “We look forward to the House and Senate going to Conference committee and having the final bill signed by the President by year’s end.”
The legislation also contains a provision that would designate the Great Lakes as a single, unified navigational system. Right now, each federal Great Lakes port receives individual consideration for government funding. That pits these ports against each other, the bill’s supporters say. Treating them as a single, connected system will put the ports in a better position to compete for funding, they believe.
The Senate has already passed its version of the House bill, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (S. 601). The two pieces of legislation will now go to conference.