House and Senate Committees Pass 2018 WRDA Bills
On May 22, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed its version of a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, which—thanks to AGC and other allies' advocacy efforts—dropped a provision that would have authorized $150 million for the construction of a new Army Corps' owned and operated hopper dredge. A day later, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee overwhelmingly passed its 2018 Water Resources Development Act. WRDA authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects, including navigation (dredging, locks), flood control (levees), hydropower (dams), recreation (parks), and water supply. AGC followed both bills closely and advocated for construction industry priorities in both the Senate and House bills.
Disappointingly, neither the Senate nor the House WRDA bills include provisions from the president's infrastructure plan or AGC's recommendations that will streamline duplicative environmental reviews before USACE can initiate a water infrastructure project. AGC testified before the committee earlier this year.
Notable provisions in the Senate bill include:
- SRF WIN Act – authorizes the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now Act. This program provides funding for State Infrastructure Financing Authorities to utilize WIFIA funds and would authorize $200 million annually ($1 billion over 5 years) in additional funds for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds.
- WIFIA – Reauthorizes of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act at $50 million for both FY2020 and FY2021. WIFIA provides long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects
- Five Year Plan – Requires USACE to provide Congress with a work plan and four-year projected budget on an annual basis
Notable provisions in the House WRDA bill include:
- Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund – Requires the full use of funds taken into the HTMF to be entirely spent on harbor maintenance by the year 2029
- Post-disaster Projects – Modifies the repair standard for post-disaster Corps projects to all repairs to be done at either pre-storm conditions or the “design level of protection”
- Real Property Database – Requires USACE to publicly post its real property portfolio as a means to help owners and contractors determine the potential for a Rivers and Harbors Act Section 408 permission, often a regulatory chokepoint that delays issuance of Clean Water Act Section
Jordan F. Howard
Director, Federal and Heavy Construction Division
Associated General Contractors of America
2300 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 300, Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-837-5368; Fax: 703-837-5406