For Immediate Release
September 17, 2018
Trout Unlimited Pleased by Gains, but Disappointed in Missed Opportunity in 2018 WRDA
Washington, D.C.House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster unveiled the 2018 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA)out of conference committee, S. 3021, last week and House quickly approved it by weeks end. Trout Unlimited lauded several provisions in the bill that will help protect and restore water quality, floodplain connectivity, groundwater recharge, and increase funding for infrastructure improvements to boost safe drinking water and wastewater treatment nationwide.
WRDA authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers programs and projects for navigation, flood control and storm protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water projects.
Trout Unlimited worked hard over the past several months to help develop a bipartisan package of Bureau of Reclamation provisions for possible inclusion in the bill, under the capable leadership of Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said Steve Moyer, TUs vice president for government affairs. Despite our efforts, most of these provisions were not included in the final bill, missing some good opportunities to address the pernicious impacts of drought on our western rivers and streams. But there is still much good in the bill, and we salute the conference committee for its good work.
Trout Unlimiteds mission is to protect, restore and conserve trout and salmon populations and the watersheds on which they depend. In service to this mission, Trout Unlimited works with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal water agencies to improve the health of the nations waters. Provisions supported by TU in S. 3021 include:
- Section 1149 directs the Army Corps to consider natural infrastructure as alternatives in a feasibility report for any flood control or storm-risk reduction project by the Army Corps of Engineers. This will promote multiple-benefit projects to restore floodplain connectivity and give rivers room to breathe as a way to improve public safety, groundwater recharge, and fish populations. Restoration of reefs or coastal wetlands also help protect communities from storms.
- The bill also includes language to address water and power issues for the Klamath Project and nearby lands, including steps to align water supplies and demand. TU supported the legislation, which is a step toward broader restoration solutions for the Klamath, once one of the Wests most prolific salmon and steelhead producers.
- The bill nearly doubles the State Revolving Fund (SRF) funding authorization to help communities invest in safe drinking water and wastewater treatment, a needed increase to meet the growing demand for infrastructure improvements.
The dropped Bureau of Reclamation provisions were important to watershed resilience and water conservation in the West to meet the challenges of on-going drought, and we are disappointed that this bipartisan package was rejected in the final WRDA bill, said Laura Ziemer, Trout Unlimiteds senior counsel and water policy advisor. However, we look forward to working on passage of this bipartisan package in another legislative vehicle.
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Trout Unlimited is the nations oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North Americas trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation.