Today, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA), a bipartisan bill that will improve ports and harbors, inland waterway navigation, flood and storm protection, and other water resources infrastructure throughout the United States.
Congress has regularly approved WRDA legislation every two years since 2014 to authorize water resources infrastructure projects carried out by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). With the Nation continuing to deal with the impacts of a supply chain crisis, there is an urgent need to move forward projects and policies that strengthen this vital component of the transportation network.
This year's WRDA, H.R. 7776, focuses on projects that are locally-driven but have regional and national benefits, rather than on significant national policy changes.
"Effective and reliable ports, inland waterways, and flood protection infrastructure helps keep our Nation's economy moving, and with our current supply chain crisis, supporting water infrastructure is more critical than ever," said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (MO-06). "Flood protection in particular is something my district in Missouri relies on, and when the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are mismanaged, it not only damages navigation channels that are essential to our economy, it also threatens the people and property along the Rivers. It's critical to make sure the Corps does not lose focus of its navigation and flood control responsibilities, and this bill does just that. WRDA 2022 includes support for Missouri flood control projects, provides assistance for meeting levee inspection requirements, examines ways to get erosion under control on our rivers, and ensures the Corps will prioritize flood control and navigation for the benefit of Missourians and all Americans."
Graves joined Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC) in introducing H.R. 7776 earlier this week.
More information about WRDA 2022 and today's Committee consideration of the bill can be found here.
Critically, the bill includes the following priorities for North Missourians:
Interception-Rearing Complexes (IRCs)
WRDA 2022 places strict limitations on the construction of new IRCs on the Missouri river and ensures the Corps of Engineers takes immediate action to address any negative impacts on navigation, flood control, or bank erosion caused by the construction of IRCs. Additionally, the bill requires all mitigation lands along the Missouri River acquired with federal funds to be counted towards the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Projects goal of 166,000 acres. Currently, only lands acquired or mitigated with Corps of Engineers BSNP Mitigation funds can be counted. Land mitigated with funding from other federal agencies is not counted.
In 2014, the Corps of Engineers placed new video inspection requirements on local levee districts. This new requirement left levee districts staring down massive bills to perform the required inspections to stay in the PL 84-99 program. In some cases, local levee districts don't even have the legal authority to raise local taxes enough to fund these inspections. WRDA 2022 reverses this unfunded mandate and requires the Corps to work with levee districts to get these inspections done and ensure districts remain in compliance.
This legislation creates a new demonstration program to address bank erosion impacting levee districts and private landowners on the Lower Missouri River based on prior efforts on the Upper Missouri River.
Projects in North Missouri
The bill also creates the Northern Missouri Environmental Assistance Project, which will help fund $50 million worth of sewer and stormwater projects in St. Joseph, Hannibal, Camden Point, Excelsior Springs, and Smithville, Missouri.