WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) helped pass the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020. This legislation authorizes Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) water resources projects to strengthen our locks and dams, improve inland waterways, invest in flood damage reduction and update water infrastructure.
“Our inland waterways are critical to delivering tons of goods to market each year and supporting the hard work of our agricultural producers,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “We cannot allow this local economic driver to come to a standstill. It’s crucial we make the investments needed to ensure we have modern locks and dams and reliable water infrastructure. I’m proud to have helped pass this strong bipartisan bill today to help move projects forward that will strengthen this important transportation system.”
“Waterways Council, Inc. and its members are appreciative of the work that Congresswoman Bustos did to leverage the inland waterways trust fund to more efficiently provide construction of our long-overdue locks and dams. This adjustment will ensure that projects like the Navigation – Ecosystem Sustainability Program can begin sooner, be completed sooner, and provide Illinois’ residents the benefits of more efficient river transportation. This will also create jobs for America’s building trades at a critical time for our nation. We look forward to working with the Congresswoman as this bill proceeds to conference,” said Tracy Zea, President and CEO of Waterways Council, Inc.
“The Grain and Feed Association of Illinois would like to thank Representative Bustos for championing the passage of WRDA and, specifically, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund cost-share adjustment,” said Jeff Adkisson, Executive Vice President, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. “These changes will allow repairs and renovation on aged locks and dams to be conducted in a more timely manner which is critical because efficient movement of grain for export through the lock and dam system is a key advantage of grain movements in the Midwest.”
“The adjustments made to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund in this bill are critical to bringing the US waterways system into the 21st century, and maintaining a first-rate waterways system is imperative to keeping Illinois and all American soybean farmers competitive in a global marketplace. We appreciate the hard work of Congresswoman Bustos to make this change happen,” said Doug Schroeder, Illinois Soybean Association Chairman.
“The Inland Waterways Trust Fund cost-share adjustment included in today’s Water Resources Development Act is a real win for Illinois corn farmers who have been advocates for upgraded river infrastructure for decades. The adjustment will allow for new locks and dams to be built in shorter timeframes, getting Illinois corn farmers the transportation systems they rely on as quickly as possible. Thank you to Representative Cheri Bustos for her leadership advocating for the cost-share adjustment,” said Bill Leigh, President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association from Minonk, IL.
The WRDA would do the following:
- Invest additional Federal resources for the construction of inland waterways projects and prioritizes the construction of projects identified by inland users, including the Upper Ohio River navigation system and the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) for the Upper Mississippi River.
- Amend the cost-share formula for the construction and major rehabilitation of inland waterways navigation projects and would expedite completion of such projects, bringing the U.S. inland waterways transportation system into the 21st century.
- Fully unlock the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) by providing the authority to appropriate additional funds for harbor maintenance needs from the existing balance in the Trust Fund. The current estimate of the balance in the trust fund is approximately $10 billion.
- Authorize the Corps to study, design and construct water resources projects for communities that have been subjected to repetitive flooding events and have received emergency flood assistance, including the construction of temporary barriers. This will help repetitive loss communities, especially those in economically-disadvantaged communities, obtain critical flood protection.
- Renew Congressional support for water resources projects that promote the beneficial reuse of sediment by establishing a national policy that recognizes the economic and environmental value in reusing clean dredged materials for ecosystem restoration or storm damage reduction projects.
- Create additional flexibility for the Corps to address the water resource needs of economically disadvantaged communities, communities of color and rural communities.
- Authorize the Corps to affordably study the flooding and storm damage reduction needs of economically disadvantaged communities, including communities of color, and tribal and rural communities.