Legislation to make critical investments in water-related infrastructure was introduced today by Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Transportation Committee). H.R. 5892, the Water Resources Development Act of 2010 (WRDA), authorizes approximately $6 billion for critical navigation, flood prevention , and environmental restoration projects, as well as studies carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).
"We are making critical investments in our nation's infrastructure that will create well-paid jobs that cannot be outsourced, and ensure the economic and environmental health and well-being of this nation for decades to come," said Oberstar. "It ensures the Army Corps has the authority to carry out nationally significant projects that will improve the economic prosperity of the nation, protect its citizenry from the threat of flooding and coastal storms, and put in place restoration efforts for many of America's natural treasures."
The WRDA bill authorizes and funds many of the national water projects that benefit Duluth and the Great Lakes. The legislation increases the amount the Corps can spend on the Two Harbors Safe Harbor project from $7 million to $14 million. The amount was increased to account for inflation. The lifetime authorization of the Corps 569 program will be increased to $54 million under this legislation. Oberstar created the Section 569 program to fund water infrastructure projects in Northeast Minnesota.
"Since it was created, the 569 program has invested over $22 million in Northeast Minnesota," said Oberstar. "It's important to ensure that this vital program is able to keep meeting the needs of Minnesota's 8th District."
The Transportation Committee has jurisdiction over the Army Corps' civil works program, which is the nation's largest water resources program. The Army Corps' responsibilities include navigation, flood control, shoreline protection, hydropower, dam safety, water supply, recreation, environmental restoration and protection, and disaster response and recovery.
"Today, the Army Corps maintains more than 11,000 miles of channels for commercial navigation and operates locks at 230 sites. The Army Corps estimates that, on average, its civil works projects prevent $20 billion in flood damage ever year," said Oberstar. "H.R. 5892 gives the Army Corps the tools it needs to do a better job in meeting its responsibilities. The WRDA bill also represents progress in meeting the next generation of critical navigation, flood damage reduction, and environmental restoration projects for our nation."