Congress Advances WRDA Legislation with Key Clean Water Priorities

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(May 22, 2018) -- The Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee this week are marking up their respective versions of the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), S. 2800 and H.R. 8, with the Senate EPW Committee unanimously voting to move the legislation to the Senate floor.   

WRDA authorizes individual US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water resources projects and is considered a “must-pass” bill every two years. While this USACE bill can be fairly narrow, Congress has in the past expanded its scope to address municipal water infrastructure issues.  The 2018 Senate version of the WRDA bill takes the expanded approach and includes several priorities that are important to NACWA members (seeClean Water Current, May 9).  A Manager’s Amendment has also been developed which incorporates additional NACWA priorities for the clean water sector, including new funding efforts, better coordination on stormwater and flood control projects, and new innovative infrastructure financing programs. 

Unlike the Senate version, the House WRDA bill takes a much narrower approach that focuses on authorization of USACE projects and agency reforms.  The House bill does include language NACWA has advocated for to improve USACE and local government coordination on stormwater and local water resource management. 

Both WRDA bills are expected to pass the committees with bipartisan support with a goal of bringing them to a vote in the full Senate and House by mid-summer.  House T&I is then considering putting together a separate infrastructure package that could include additional water infrastructure priorities beyond the USACE, including some of those included in the Senate WRDA bill. This approach could help set up additional clean water priorities to be hashed out during the eventual WRDA conference negotiations that would take place between the House and Senate later this year. 

NACWA greatly appreciates the bipartisan collaboration with EPW and T&I and the inclusion of important clean water infrastructure priorities in the Senate bill. NACWA will continue working with both Committees as the legislation advances.  To discuss, please contact Jason Isakovic or Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Directors.