NWC News Alert – Washington Update
• Senate water legislation
• USACE Infrastructure Meetings
• Section 7001 Request for Proposals
The Senate’s “WRDA” To Be Released This Week
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee intends to release its version of WRDA tomorrow. Entitled the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018,” the bill includes traditional WRDA provisions along with EPA drinking water provisions. On Wednesday, the Committee will hold a hearing with water resources stakeholders, and on May 22, The Honorable RD James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, will testify before the Committee. The bill is scheduled to be marked up on May 24th. The House expects to release its bill on May 18th, with mark-up on May 23rd.
NWC was among a small group of stakeholders invited to attend a briefing by EPW committee staff this past Friday afternoon. We were offered a chance to look at the draft bill while at the briefing, but could not take a copy with us.
The bill would authorize 6 Chief’s reports and 9 feasibility studies and provides for modifications to existing projects. In addition, the bill includes numerous “Sense of Congress” provisions that the Secretary should expedite completion of various ongoing studies and projects.
The bill calls for 9 studies, including a National Academy of Sciences study into how the Corps can increase transparency, a GAO study into benefit-cost analysis reforms, a study by the Secretary on the Corps’ capabilities, a study on the impediments to WIFIA implementation, and a GAO study on the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).
There are Sense of Congress provisions relating to a wide variety of topics, including project partnership agreements and the role of the non-federal sponsor in taking responsibility for operation, maintenance or improvement of projects.
The bill would reauthorize for 2 years the national levee safety program, the lock operations pilot program from WRRDA 14, WIFIA, and the dam safety program.
What will no doubt be the most contentious provision in the bill is Section 1001 relating to Corps budgeting. This provision would direct the Secretary to develop 5-year budgets and provide allocations to each district, giving those districts responsibility to develop and implement their 5-year plans.
Please check the Environment and Public Works Committee website, epw.senate.gov, on Tuesday to view a copy of the bill when it is posted, as we will be traveling to New Orleans in order to plan for our Annual Meeting, to be held September 12-14.
USACE Infrastructure Meetings
NWC was among the invited stakeholders to participate in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stakeholder sessions held last week regarding the Administration’s Infrastructure Principles. During the first session, the “Water Resources Stakeholder Session,” the USACE infrastructure team provided an overview of their ongoing activities, discussing principles in the Administration’s proposal where USACE can move forward without legislative action, and sought feedback from the participants on various aspects of the proposal. Topics that were discussed included the funding and financing components, including incentive grants, WIFIA, inland waterways funding, fee retention and long-term contracts.
The second day, the “Permitting Stakeholder Session,” focused on the newly established “One Federal Decision” (discussed in our April Newsletter), NEPA alternatives, mitigation banks, nationwide permits, and Section 408 permissions.
USACE plans to provide summaries of both meetings. In addition, USACE intends to hold additional meetings and webinars. We will provide all of that information to you as it becomes available.
USACE Seeks Proposals Pursuant to Section 7001 of WRRDA 14
Section 7001 of Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) 2014 requires that the Secretary of the Army annually submit to the Congress a report (Annual Report) that identifies feasibility reports, proposed feasibility studies submitted by non-Federal interests, and proposed modifications to an authorized water resources development project or feasibility study that meet certain criteria. The Annual Report is to be based, in part, upon requests for proposals submitted by non-Federal interests.
Proposals must be submitted by August 20, 2018. Additional information can be found here:
National Waterways Conference, Inc.
1100 North Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22201