House Approves Water Resources Development Act of 2020

July 31, 2020

The House recently approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2020

The House recently approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (H.R. 7575), authorizing at least $8.6 billion in federal funds for 38 new Army Corps of Engineers construction projects. 

This includes flood and storm protection, river and port navigation and environmental restoration improvements, according to ENR. The total cost of the projects is estimated at more than $13 billion. 

The 2020 WRDA was passed by the House on Jul. 29, so WRDA will now move to the Senate. The Senate version would authorize $5.1 billion in federal funds for 26 Corps of Engineers projects, but the water measures have yet to come to the Senate floor for a vote, according to ENR.

Along with funding authorizations, the passing of this in the House has a few important policy changes. One change is an increase in the funding share that comes from the Treasury’s general fund for river lock-and-dam projects to 65%, from the current 50%. The change intends to provide more trust-fund dollars for such projects. The other change would free the surplus in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

According to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, the provision would allow $10 billion in Harbor Maintenance Taxes to be used for port dredging projects.

If a new WRDA becomes law this year it would continue a six-year streak of enacting water resources legislation every other year, reported ENR.

WRDA 2020 would reduce the share drawn from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund for lock and dam projects on rivers from the current 50% to 35%, according to the bill. The proposed change to the cost-share ratio is not permanent, however, and would apply only to projects beginning before the end of 2027.

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Cristina Tuser