SENATE & HOUSE OVERRIDE PRESIDENT'S VETO OF WATER RESOURCES BILL
With the override of the presidential veto in both the U.S. House and Senate, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007 authorizing important flood control, environmental restoration and navigation projects nationwide today becomes law.
Delaware's congressional delegation - Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper (both D-Del.) and Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) - all supported the override the president's recent veto of WRDA, stressing its importance for flood damage reduction, navigation, ecosystem restoration, recreation, hydroelectric power, water supply, aquatic plant control, and hurricane and storm protection.
The Senate today voted 79-14 to override the president's veto of the WRDA. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives voted 361-54 to override the veto, which means this bill will now become law despite the President's objections.
Last enacted in 2000, WRDA authorizes navigation, flood control and environmental restoration projects nationwide, including several projects in Delaware.
The current legislation not only includes projects and programs for the Army Corps' Civil Works Program, but it also reforms the way the Corps designs and builds projects in order to address many of the mistakes made in the design and construction of the New Orleans levees. The Act creates an independent panel to analyze the feasibility and quality of projects expected to cost more than $40 million.
"I'm pleased Congress refused to let the president prevent these essential infrastructure improvements," said Sen. Biden. "WRDA includes important Delaware projects - like final resolution on responsibility for the Roth Bridge - and national Corps reforms that are long overdue. There was no good reason to make Americans wait for this bill any longer."
"People across Delaware will benefit from projects ranging from maintaining St. Georges Bridge and stabilizing the Indian River Inlet Scour Holes to improving the Delmarva Conservation Corridor," said Sen. Carper, who served on the Senate conference committee that crafted this final legislation. "This legislation also includes reforms to help restore Americans' trust in the projects the Corps builds, ensuring projects are built to higher standards and that no state will have to face what Louisiana faced during Hurricane Katrina."
"Completion of WRDA is long overdue, and I was pleased to support passage of the Act that includes so many infrastructure projects for the nation, like recovery efforts in Gulf States as well as important operational reforms, which will help ensure we are authorizing sound investments," said Rep. Castle. "Delaware will benefit by greater protections for the Delaware River and Bay and our Army Corps bridges as well as through conservation and flood mitigation projects."
The legislation authorized several Delaware projects for the Corps, including:
- Ownership of the U.S. Senator William V. Roth, Jr. Bridge (formerly the S.R. 1 Bridge) and maintenance of the St. Georges Bridge: To clarify that the Corps is to assume ownership of the Roth Bridge replacement bridge and continue to operate and maintain the existing St. Georges Bridge unless otherwise directed by Congress.
- Indian River Inlet Scour Holes: To stabilize two scour holes threatening the Indian River Inlet and Bay. The first one is an 80-foot hole within 100 feet of a bulkhead at the U.S. Coast Guard facility. The second hole is about 30-feet, and has formed along a stone revetment constructed by the Corps adjacent to the Coast Guard bulkhead. The revetment is currently protecting several structures recently constructed by the State of Delaware, and the Coast Guard could be impacted in as little as one year.
- Delmarva Conservation Corridor: To improve the economic viability of agriculture and the environmental health of Delaware's watersheds, this program consists of two core components: 1) Establishing an agricultural operations and conservation "advocate's office" to improve marketing and participation in existing and new conservation programs; and 2) developing and implementing new conservation programs, and improving existing programs to better fit the needs of Delaware's unique economic and environmental needs.
- Delaware River Basin Commission: To reassert the Corps' responsibility to participate as a member of the Delaware River Basin Commission and to contribute to its function to improve the basin area.
- Delaware, Christina River, Shellpot Creek Flood Mitigation: Authorizes feasibility study of carrying out a project for flood damage reduction along the Delaware and Christina Rivers and Shellpot Creek in Wilmington, Delaware.
- Delaware River Debris Removal: In response to Athos I oil spill, authorizes the removal of debris in the Delaware River by the Army Corps.
- Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Recreation: Builds on the current authorization for navigation at the C&D Canal by adding recreation as a project purpose.
- Delaware Bay Oyster Revitalization: Authorizes continuation of the oyster restoration project in the Delaware Bay, New Jersey and Delaware.