House Committee Releases WRDA Bill Draft

On May 20, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee released a draft of the House Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. Committee leaders plan to formally introduce the bipartisan bill early this week and mark up the legislation as soon as Wednesday, May 25.

As anticipated, the House WRDA is significantly smaller in both scope and funding than the Senate’s bill, focusing on the biannual review of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) activities and projects for flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration. Notably, the House WRDA bill does not include the stormwater provision – a provision the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has been advocating for – along with other water sector organizations. This provision would include coordination between the ACOE and local and regional entities on projects which may impact stormwater management. However, the Association is continuing to seek opportunities to have the provision included during markup.

In total, the House bill authorizes $5 billion in federal funding for ACOE activities, including approving 28 ACOE Chief’s Reports projects – the process by which Congress reviews and determines whether to fund ACOE projects. Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) also lauded that the House bill includes drought relief provisions. The $5 billion is offset by deauthorizations of previously-authorized projects which have not been completed. In comparison, the Senate WRDA authorizes 25 projects at about $9 billion in federal funding. The Senate bill also includes significant reforms and funding related to clean water and drinking water.

As the House bill moves toward Committee mark-up, the more comprehensive Senate bill has already passed out of Committee and awaits floor time.

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