At long last, the House is gearing up to markup a long-overdue water infrastructure reauthorization bill. On Wednesday, September 11th, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster – along with Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs and other committee leaders – introduced H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), which is scheduled for full committee markup on Thursday, September 19th.
Much attention has been paid recently to the lack of investment in the nation’s aging water infrastructure and the critical problems this is creating for communities, businesses and industry across the country. Addressing this critical issue will require investment of billions of dollars over the next 20 to 30 years. Congress needs to act quickly in passing a water infrastructure bill that will provide a mechanism to begin funding the Corps’ backlog of projects and provide more flexibility for federal agencies to partner with states and communities to tackle the huge challenge that lies ahead in this era of ever-tightening budgets at all levels of government.
To that end, House committee leaders are pitching their bill as a low-cost plan to finance port, inland waterway, drinking water and anti-erosion projects and speed up delivery times. They are hoping to get it to the House floor for a vote next month. This is a very timely issue for ICWP, as our annual conference in Denver on October 15-17 will be focused on taking an in-depth look at innovative strategies for water planning and management, data collection and addressing these mounting infrastructure challenges, all while adapting to the shrinking federal budget. More information about the annual conference can be found on our website at www.icwp.org.
Submitted by Josh McClintock, Partner at Creative Capitol Strategies, LLC, and former Director of External Affairs for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.