Thursday, May 22, 2014

Senate Approves and Sends Water Resources Reform and Development Act to President

The Senate on Thursday afternoon overwhelmingly approved (91-7 roll call vote) a conference report to accompany the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), following House approval of the measure on Tuesday.  The WRRDA bill will now go to the President for his signature, authorizing 34 new lock, dam, levee, port and ecosystem restoration projects, while introducing reforms to the way the Army Corps of Engineers manages its water resource projects.  The House voted 412 to 4 (roll call vote tally here) to approve the water resources bill compromise.  The seven Senate no votes came from Republican Sens. Burr (N.C.), Coburn (Okla.), Flake (Ariz.), Johnson (Wis.), Lee (Utah), McCain (Ariz.) and Roberts (Kan.). The four House no votes were cast by Republican Reps. Amash (Mi.), Gohmert (Tex.), Huelskamp (Kan.) and Salmon (Ariz.).

The conference report suggests that the cost of the 34 new project authorizations would be offset with $18 billion in project deauthorizations.  However, a Congressional Budget Office analysis suggests otherwise, estimating that WRRDA will cost $12.3 Billion over 10 years.  Here is a section-by-section summary of the Conference Report. Highlights of the measure can be found here, and the full Conference Report, itself, can be seen here.

Mississippi River Basin - Louisiana Coastal Relevance
Below is an overview of various sections of the Conference Report that specifically relate to portions of or projects within the Mississippi River Basin, and Coastal Louisiana.  The summary is derived from language in the section-by-section summary, and from language in the conference report, itself.

Section 1046. Reservoir Operations and Water Supply. This section in part requires the Secretary to notify applicable non-federal interests before each fiscal year of the anticipated operation and maintenance anticipated activities for that fiscal year and for each of the subsequent four fiscal years for which the non-federal interest is required to contribute amounts, and it prohibits the Secretary from charging a fee for surplus water storage over the next 10 years on Corps of Engineers reservoir projects in the Upper Missouri River Basin.

Section 2006. Preserving the Inland Waterway Trust Fund.  This section authorizes a change in cost-share for the inland navigation project on the Ohio River in the vicinity of Olmsted, Illinois to provide that, beginning with fiscal year 2015, 15 percent of the cost of construction for the Olmsted Project shall be paid for each fiscal year from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. It also provides a sense of Congress that expenditures for the Olmsted project should be not less than $150 million annually until completion and modifies the definition of rehabilitation for major projects. The "Olmsted Project" is the project for navigation, Lower Ohio River, Locks and Dams 52 and 53, Illinois and Kentucky, authorized by section 3(a)(6) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1988

Section 2007. Inland Waterways Oversight. This section requires that the Secretary and the Government Accountability Office report to Congress on the challenges associated with the Olmsted project. Additionally, this section requires that for any future inland navigation project that is estimated to cost more than or has achieved a cost of $500 million, the Secretary shall submit to Congress an annual financial plan for the project.

Section 2010. Upper Mississippi River Protection. This section directs the Secretary to close the Upper St. Anthony’s Falls Lock and Dam (Mississippi River Mile 853.9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) no later than one year after the enactment of the Act.

Section 4002. Mississippi River. This section calls upon the Secretary to improve forecasting on the Mississippi River by updating forecasting technology in the interest of maintaining navigation; studying the feasibility of carrying out projects to improve navigation and aquatic ecosystem restoration; carrying out a study to improve the coordinated and comprehensive management of water resource projects related to severe flooding and drought conditions; and carrying out navigation projects outside of the authorized federal navigation channel to ensure safe and reliable fleeting areas.  This section also authorizes a Middle Mississippi River Pilot Program to study improvements to navigation and aquatic ecosystem restoration in the middle Mississippi River.  It also establishes a "Greater Mississippi River Basin Severe Flooding and Drought Management Study," in part to "improve the coordinated and comprehensive management of water resource projects in the greater Mississippi River Basin relating to severe flooding and drought conditions," and develop "new water resource projects to improve the reliability of navigation and more effectively reduce flood risk."

Section 4003. Missouri River. This section authorizes the Secretary, in coordination with the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Director of the United States Geological Survey, and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, to provide for a coordinated and supported effort to conduct soil moisture and snowpack monitoring in the Upper Missouri River Basin. This section also modifies a continuing authority program for ecosystem restoration projects along the Upper Missouri River; authorizes reimbursement for individuals' travel expenses associated with participation in the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee; and authorizes the Secretary to carry out a study to determine the feasibility of carrying out shoreline erosion projects to mitigate damages to tribal lands and infrastructure in the Missouri River basin.

In addition, this section requires the Corps of Engineers, as part of the President’s annual budget process, to report to Congress on the prioritization of federal actions to be carried out during the next fiscal year to mitigate for fish and wildlife losses as a result of Corps of Engineers projects in the Missouri River Basin. It also clarifies that the Secretary shall consult with other federal agencies, conservation districts, the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council, and the state of Montana in carrying out the Yellowstone River project in the vicinity of Intake, Montana.

Section 4004. Arkansas River. This section authorizes the Secretary to establish a McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System Advisory Committee. The Committee will serve in an advisory capacity only and duties include providing information and recommendations to the Corps relating to the efficiency, reliability, and availability of the operations of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River navigation system.

Section 4007. Northern Rockies Headwaters. This section authorizes the Secretary to study the feasibility of carrying out projects to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events, including floods and droughts, on communities, water users, and fish and wildlife and their habitats located in and along the headwaters of the Columbia, Missouri, and Yellowstone Rivers and tributaries. The Secretary may carry out feasible projects in accordance with the criteria for an appropriate Continuing Authority Program or recommend projects for authorization in the Annual Report in accordance with Section 7001 of this Act.

Section 4011. Louisiana Coastal Area. This section authorizes the Secretary to review Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast developed by the State of Louisiana for the purposes of coastal protection and restoration, and, in consultation with the State of Louisiana, to identify and conduct feasibility studies for up to ten projects included in that plan. This section also modifies the existing science and technology program to examine system-wide approaches to coastal sustainability.

Section 6004. Deauthorizations. This section deauthorizes components of specific Army Corps of Engineers projects that had previously been authorized for navigation, flood control, shoreline protection, or public works projects.  Mississippi River Basin and Coastal Louisiana project deauthorizations include:
  • Lucas Berg Pit Confined Disposal Area, Calumet-Sag Channel and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Cook County, Illinois -The portion of the project for navigation, Illinois Waterway and Grand Calumet River, Illinois, that consists of the Lucas-Berg Pit confined disposal facility authorized by the first section of the Act of July 24, 1946
  • Port of Iberia, Louisiana --authorized by Section 1001(25) of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007
Section 7002. Authorization of Final Feasibility Studies. This section authorizes 34 water resources projects that have completed the technical review by the Corps of Engineers and are recommended by the Chief of Engineers. The projects are authorized to be carried out in accordance with the plan, and subject to the conditions, described in the Chief’s Reports. Each of the projects has as its primary purpose, one of the following: navigation, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, flood risk management, environmental restoration. Mississippi River Basin and Coastal Louisiana project authorizations (including the date of the Army Corps of Engineers Report of the Chief Engineer and associated costs for the projects) are:

Flood Risk Management
  • Topeka Flood Risk Management Project, Topeka, Kansas Aug. 24, 2009; cost: Federal: $17,360,000, Non-Federal: $9,350,000, Total: $26,710,000
  • Flood risk management along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Jan. 27, 2011;  cost:  Federal: $73,130,000, Non-Federal: $39,380,000, Total: $112,510,000 
  • Flood risk management along the left bank of the Ohio River at Paducah, Kentucky (rehabilitation (reconstruction) of the existing flood damage reduction project) May 16, 2012; cost:  Federal: $13,170,000, Non-Federal: $7,090,000, Total: $20,260,000
  • Jordan Creek Flood Risk Management Project, Springfield, Missouri, August 2, 2013;  cost: Federal: $13,560,000, Non-Federal: $7,300,000, Total: $20,860,000
Hurricane and Storm Management Risk Reduction
  • Construction for the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project (a flood protection system for Terrebonne Parish and Lafourche Parish, Louisiana)-updated design following application of "more robust design and hydrologic and hydraulic modeling standards developed subsequent to Hurricane Katrina," July 8, 2013;  cost: Federal: $6,695,400,000, Non-Federal $3,604,600,000, Total: $10,300,000,000
Environmental Restoration
  • Louisiana Coastal Area - ecosystem restoration for six projects in multiple locations in coastal Louisiana, December 30, 2010;  cost: Federal: $1,026,000,000, Non-Federal: $601,000,000, Total: $1,627,000,000
  • Minnesota River, Marsh Lake Ecosystem Restoration Project, Minnesota (to help restore aquatic ecosystem structure and function as well as implement "ancillary recreation features"), December 30,2011;  cost: Federal: $6,760,000, Non-Federal: $3,640,000, Total: $10,400,000
  • Restoration for Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline (BBBS) in Lafourche, Jefferson, and Plaquemines Parishes, Louisiana, June 22, 2012;  cost: Federal: $321,750,000, Non-Federal: $173,250,000, Total: $495,000,000
Section 7003. Authorization of Project Modifications Recommended by the Secretary. This section modifies eight previously authorized water resources projects. These modifications were requested by the Administration. Subject to Section 902 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, project cost increases must be authorized by Congress. This section authorizes new cost levels that are sufficient to complete the projects. Mississippi River Basin and Coastal Louisiana project modifications (including the date of the Army Corps of Engineers' letter of recommendation and new cost estimates) are:
  • Wood River Levee System Reconstruction, Madison County, Illinois, May 7, 2013;  cost: Estimated Federal: $16,678,000, Estimated non-Federal: $8,980,000, Total: $25,658,000
  • Des Moines River and Raccoon River Project, February 12, 2014;  cost:  Estimated Federal: $14,990,300, Estimated non-Federal: $8,254,700, Total: $23,245,000 
  • Western Sarpy and Clear Creek, Nebraska flood risk reduction project, March 20, 2014; cost: Estimated Federal: $28,128,800, Estimated non-Federal: $15,146,300, Total: $43,275,100
  • Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Reconstruction project (flood risk management), April 14, 2014; cost:  Estimated Federal: $17,687,000, Estimated non-Federal: $746,000, Total: $18,433,000

No comments:

Post a Comment