U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today praised the passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2013. The legislation would reform the Army Corps of Engineers, provide critical flood protection, and maintain the flow of commerce by improving and updating the nation's water infrastructure. It also includes project acceleration provisions that ensures important water infrastructure projects are processed in an efficient manner and is estimated to create up to about 500,000 jobs across the country.
There is a significant backlog of maintenance around the country, and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) agreement in the bill will phase out diversions of funds from the HMTF and sets a goal of dedicating all funds in the account to port maintenance and improvements by 2030. An amendment was also adopted to help with the maintenance on moderate- and low-use port projects that have not been maintained in the preceding 6 years due to insufficient federal funding.
Additionally, the bill contains amendments cosponsored by both Senators Collins and King. The first will establish a National Endowment for the Oceans, which would serve to support activities that protect, conserve, and restore the nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. The second authorizes the reopening of the Cape Arundel disposal site as a repository for dredging materials rather than incurring additional costs for a new site. The bill would also deauthorize Thomaston Harbor, which would allow the harbor to be regulated by state and town ordinances and support the commercial working waterfront. The bill would also authorize new projects and studies, which could include the Fort Kent flooding study, the Great Chebeague Island feasibility study, or Searsport Harbor.
"Maine's coastal waters are cornerstones of our cultural heritage and state economy," Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. "This legislation, which includes our amendments to authorize the reopening of the Cape Arundel disposal site and supports key investment in our nation's water infrastructure, will drive commerce and our economy while preserving and protecting waterways so that Mainers and visitors alike can continue to enjoy our state for years to come. We were also pleased to support the creation of National Endowment for the Oceans, which will benefit coastal communities as they face uncertainty in a changing marine environment."