Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Lou Barletta (11th District of Pennsylvania)
WASHINGTON – This week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed bipartisan, comprehensive water resources infrastructure legislation, which includes the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA). The bill, which was included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), provides for continued investment in our nation’s water infrastructure, including ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, and ecosystem restoration. S. 3021 passed by voice vote on Thursday, September 13th, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“Americans deserve strong, effective water infrastructure that protects their homes from the threat of floods, supports good-paying jobs, and boosts the economy at the local, state, national, and global levels,” Barletta said. “This bill does just that, and as a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I am proud to work alongside Chairman Shuster and fight for strong water infrastructure that benefits the people of Pennsylvania.”
“I want to thank Lou for his work and support on this bill that invests in the ports, locks and dams, inland waterways, flood protection, and other infrastructure that makes Pennsylvania and all of America more competitive and protects our communities,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (PA-9).
Provisions from WRDA included in S. 3021 authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study and undertake infrastructure enhancements that strengthen the U.S. economy. Thousands of jobs depend on the economic activity of Pennsylvania’s ports and waterways, and an efficient national water transportation system will ensure the Commonwealth is able to compete in an increasingly global economy. Pittsburgh’s vibrant port is a perfect example of the kind of potential that can be unleashed by strong, effective water infrastructure. Although hundreds of miles inland, the Port of Pittsburgh is one of the nation’s largest, handling over 40 million tons of cargo each year and sustaining more than 44,000 regional jobs.
Importantly, the measure also ensures that the Corps can continue protecting American communities from flooding. The Corps operates and maintains approximately 700 dams in the United States, and over 14,000 miles of levees are in the Corps’ Levee Safety Program. This infrastructure protects millions of Americans and over a trillion dollars’ worth of property. Currently, the Corps is conducting dozens of projects in Pennsylvania, including the restoration of the Schuylkill River Watershed, repairing the East Branch Dam, deepening the Delaware River Federal Navigation Channel, and reducing flood damage on the Francis E. Walter Dam in Luzerne County.
Additionally, S. 3021 encourages the use of clean, baseload hydropower by streamlining the regulatory permitting process, provides communities with additional resources for combating sewage overflows, and gives small, rural, Tribal communities and low income households technical assistance in meeting their clean water needs. It also modernizes our nation’s aging drinking water infrastructure by authorizing $4.4 billion over the next three years for the state drinking water revolving loan fund and $100 million over the next two years for areas affected by natural disasters that need help repairing their drinking water systems.