Orange County Branch Newsletter
The Passage of WRDA 2016
By Isamar Escobar, EIT
Back in March of this year, ASCE members from across the nation travelled to Washington D.C. to meet with their state legislators. Each year, ASCE selects specific issues, which generally have active bill in the House and/or Senate. Using the 165 ASCE Policy Statements, ASCE takes a stance on each bill and then prepares attendees to discuss these issues with their local elected officials. One of the main issues this year was WRDA –the Water Resources Development Act. This bill authorizes money to be spent on water infrastructure, such as dams, levees, and harbors. A two-year WRDA bill was passed in 2014, but none of the money has been appropriated by Congress. Keeping WRDA bills on a two year cycle gives nonfederal sponsors certainty in project development, keeps the cost of projects and the legislation manageable and provides Congress oversight opportunities over important Army Corps programs. On September 28th, the House passed H.R. 5303, a major $11.5 billion water resources package, with a bipartisan vote.
The passage of the WRDA 2016 bill will accomplish the following:
- Appropriate money for WRDA 2014.
- Continue approving WRDA bills on a two-year cycle.
- Authorize a Dam Rehabilitation Program in WRDA 2016 to dedicate funding towards the 87,000 US dams whose average life is 52 years.
- Expand the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Pilot Program that was developed in the WRDA 2014 bill to allow the Army Corps to access funds needed to make improvements.
Two weeks prior to the House vote, the Senate passed a similar version of WRDA. Since the Senate and House passed separate bills, both chambers will now need to appoint members to a conference committee where they will negotiate a final bill. Once the differences in the bills are negotiated, the bill will receive an up or down vote in each chamber, which will likely occur in the lame duck session (November/December) before it can be sent to the President for signature.
Thank you to all the ASCE members who sent emails to their members of Congress in support of these bills.
Interested in helping make a difference in the political sphere? Stay informed on the latest state and federal legislation by becoming an ASCE Key Contact!