The following is a statement by K.N. Gunalan “Guna,” Ph.D., P.E., President, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) on H.R. 7575 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, passed out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) today:
“Our nation’s water resources systems – levees, dams, inland waterways, and ports—are critical for keeping the economy moving and ensuring public safety as well as preservation and enhancement of our environmental resources. Today, the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure prioritized these systems by introducing and passing out of Committee the bipartisan H.R. 7575_Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020. This legislation will ensure the much-needed investments go into keeping U.S. waterways operating safely, efficiently, and competitively in the global marketplace.
We are especially encouraged by the many provisions included in WRDA 2020 that civil engineers support, such as fully unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and allowing the fund’s $10 billion balance to finally be spent on the needed dredging at our nation’s ports and inland harbors. Fully unlocking the HMTF is an important step in helping raise the nation’s “C+” ports grade.
In addition to authorizing 34 critical projects, ASCE also applauds the Committee for including technical changes to the High Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Program; modernization of the cost-share to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund; and requirements for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to update existing planning guidance related to sea level rise, and to consider nature-based features for flood and storm damage reduction projects. Additionally, we commend the Committee for addressing resilience and innovation in WRDA 2020. As natural hazards become more frequent and severe, resilience measures and green infrastructure investments will not only save dollars but more importantly, lives.
WRDA has long-received bipartisan support – as all infrastructure investments should – and we are encouraged that bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate can result in WRDA legislation being signed into law this year. In the meantime, ASCE will continue to work with both Committees and Congress to move this critical legislation across the finish line.”