WRDA Reauthorization Offers Opportunity for Great Lakes Restoration

The Great Lakes region has some of the oldest water infrastructures in the nation and we also happen to have a lagging economy. There will be a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday to consider how the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) – which authorizes Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure projects – could help the economy.

“Our ports, inland waterways and Great Lakes are extremely important to the economy, especially our export economy,” said Janet Kavinoky, director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the US Chamber of Commerce. She will be testifying at the hearing. “It seems to me we’ve gotten to the point where we only deal with infrastructure if there’s a crisis…we want to show you need continued investment in maintaining and modernizing infrastructure or it does have an economic impact.”

WRDA has a storied past and not all of it good. The bill often possesses a lot of pork and ineffectual programs, but along with that it has funded the Asian Carp barrier and other worthy Great Lakes Restoration programs. Although the bill is supposed to be reauthorized every two years, it was last passed in 2007 and before that – 2000!

Lawmakers hope to approve the latest reauthorization this year. By mid-May, Environment and Public Works Committee Members are expected to submit “priority” water project requests.

The hearing will be held on Thursday, May 6 at 9:30 a.m. in 406 Dirksen.

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