On Oct. 23, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, with a 417 to 3 vote. H.R. 3080 is now in conference to resolve the differences between it and Senate bill S. 601, passed in May. If the final bill is approved by the president, this will be the first reauthorization since 2007.
According to the Office of Management and Budget, the House bill would cost about $3.5 billion between 2014 and 2018, while the Senate bill would cost nearly $6 billion. Most of the money allocated in the House bill would fund 23 projects related to flood control, environmental restoration, and navigation. Projects include the construction and repair of dams, locks, and levees as well as deepening river channels, canals, and harbors. These infrastructure projects would provide millions of dollars to local governments and support the economy through increased water commerce and job creation.
Both House and Senate bills would accelerate the environmental review process, provisions the White House has expressed strong opposition to. According to Bloomberg BNA, H.R. 3080 would also give local partners more influence, additional credit for early spending on projects, and it would revise how projects are selected and advanced.
While some projects will have to wait until the next water development act is passed, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), has said the committee will return to drafting a bill every two years.
In mid-November, the Water Environment Federation along with 10 other organizations, sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to help the water sector meet its infrastructure needs by including the Water Infrastructure Financing Act as the bills are reconciled.