Congress Approves Water Projects Bill

The Senate voted 78 to 21, early on Dec. 10, to approve a bill that authorizes navigation, flood control and drinking water projects. That sent the measure to President Obama to sign into law.

The House had passed the bill 360-61 on Dec. 8 and sent it to the Senate.

What was previously called the Water Resources Development Act had been recast in the final House-Senate conference version as the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation, or WIIN Act. It also includes authorizating of funding to deal with the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich.

For marine traffic, it authorizes more and deeper federal dredging of seaport harbors plus some inland waterway projects that support barge freight operations.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said the WIIN Act includes regional improvements such as “long-overdue upgrades” at some locks and dams on the upper Ohio River, but that “they also provide significant national economic benefits. An efficient transportation network is what makes our economy run, and ensuring America’s water infrastructure is brought into the 21st century will grow the economy, strengthen our competitiveness, and create jobs.”

A number of state departments of transportation directly or indirectly support their states’ ocean or inland freight-handling marine ports, and so would be affected by the bill. In addition, the measure’s flood projects often can help protect highways and other surface transportation infrastructure that state DOTs directly manage.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Board of Directors had recently passed a resolution calling on the current Congress to complete the water projects legislation, saying that it “authorizes critical projects and establishes water resource policy for the nation’s ports, waterways and marine system.”

Originally published aashtojournal.org

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