House Committee Approves Water Resources Legislation


On July 15, by a unanimous vote,the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020. The bill authorizes projects to improve America’s ports and harbors, inland waterway navigation, flood and storm protection, and other water resources infrastructure.
 
H.R. 7575 authorizes construction of 34 projects studied and approved by the Chief of Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers(Corps)since WRDA 2018 was signed into law. Additionally, the bill authorizes 35 new Corps of Engineers feasibility studies and directs the Corps to expedite the completion of 41 ongoing studies.
 
Traditionally, WRDA legislation authorizes projects for the Corps. In recent years, the legislation has grown to include other water infrastructure, including drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. Those elements were included in H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act, which passed the House earlier this month.That legislation includes $65 billion in funding over 10 years for water infrastructure, as part of a larger $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment package. 
 
H.R. 7575 is expected to be considered on the House floor later this month.
 
In the Senate, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved two bills, America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, in early May. The first bill includes language to authorize Corpsprojects and studies,as well as fund waste water and stormwater infrastructure. The bill includes roughly $17 billion to increase water storage, improve flood protection, deepen U.S. ports, and repair aging wastewater and irrigation systems.
 
The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act proposes roughly $2.5 billion in federal authorizations for water projects, including those under the Safe Drinking Water Act, giving local communities additional technical assistance to improve water quality.
 
There has not been a schedule set for either of these bills to be considered on the floor of the Senate. Given that both passed the Committee with no opposition, it is likely theywould be approved by the full Senate.
 
Once both the House and Senate pass the various pieces of legislation (H.R. 2, H.R. 7575, S. 3590, and S. 3591), the bills will likely be merged into a conference committee to encompass all of the water related provisions. Once done, the unified bill will be sent back to the House and Senate for approval, and then to the President for his signature.