The following is a statement by Tom Smith, Executive Director, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):
WASHINGTON, D.C. — ASCE commends the U.S. Senate for approving the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for 2022. The legislation authorizes $24.6 billion for 21 new and existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water infrastructure projects, including those related to ports and inland waterways, flood risk management, storm risk reduction, and ecosystem restoration. While we await the House vote on the measure, we are encouraged that the biannual reauthorization of WRDA continues to be a congressional priority ever since its inception in 2014.
WRDA 2022 brings about several changes to existing water infrastructure policy that will benefit communities nationwide. These include defining U.S. policy to guard shorelines and riverbanks from the severe effects of climate change, increasing the STEM workforce at the Corps, authorizing dredging activity for underserved community harbors, and increasing the federal cost share for Inland Waterways Trust Fund projects from 65 to 75 percent, a policy ASCE supports and includes in our recommendations to improve the “D+ inland waterways grade in the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.
The legislation also includes provisions to enhance the safety of the nation’s dams and levees, which each received a “D” grade in the 2021 report card. The bill requires the Corps to establish a new National Low-Head Dam Inventory to account for the nation’s low-head dams, which can pose significant public hazards by creating strong, recirculating currents that can trap people under water. Identifying and monitoring these types of dams nationwide will contribute to the overall safety of the nation’s dams and help to save lives. The bill also expands the scope of the Levee Rehabilitation Assistance Program.
The reauthorization of WRDA and the concurrent changes made in this year’s legislation work hand-in-hand with the investments made in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, strengthening our critical systems that keep our economy moving and Americans safe. This reauthorization shows that infrastructure remains a bipartisan priority. We thank Congress for moving forward with this legislation and strongly encourage the House to pass WRDA 2022 quickly so that our water infrastructure networks can receive the support they need.
About the American Society of Civil Engineers
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit www.asce.org or www.infrastructurereportcard.org and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.