The Senate on Oct. 1 voted 99-1 to approve the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act,” which includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ water resources projects.
In a victory for the NGFA and other organizations whose members are commercial users of the inland waterway users, the bill does not include any authorization language that would allow for lockage fees or tolls on the inland waterways system.
Among other things, WRDA 2018 includes funding for the deepening of Savannah Harbor in Georgia and replacement for the Chickamauga Lock on the Tennessee River and increases the number of pilot programs for the beneficial use of dredged material from 10 to 20. Significantly, the bill also directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the current organizational structure of the Civil Works function of the Corps, to identify impediments to efficient project delivery, and to provide recommendations to Congress.
The bill now heads to the President Donald Trump’s desk for signature into law. The House passed the WRDA by voice vote last month.
Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to announce Nov. 20 whether it will proceed with the first of seven lock-and-dam replacement projects on the upper Mississippi River system that were first authorized by Congress more than a decade ago. The fiscal 2019 budget for the Corps that was enacted last month includes money for the projects, but the administration must authorize them.