The final version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 received bipartisan approval in the U.S. House on Tuesday.
Originally approved this summer, a compromise bill was sent back to the House following negotiations with the Senate. WRDA is the primary water infrastructure development package for the current Congress, authorizing funding and policy direction for the nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration and other water resources infrastructure.
The legislation also provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out water resources development projects and studies, as well as policy direction for the Corps’ implementation of civil works missions.
Iowa First District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer helped develop the legislation in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. She says the amendment will cut red tape and improve efficiency for communities like Cedar Rapids when working with the Corps on flood control projects, and help reduce project delays caused by local governments being forced to rewrite contract agreements to align with Corps requirements.
“Anybody who lives in Iowa is familiar with how important our locks and dams are,” Finkenauer said. “They understand what this means for our farmers in particular for trade. This is why we had a trade advantage in the past because of the fact we could move our goods at a cheaper rate than other countries who did not have this advanced infrastructure.”
Finkenauer adds that improving efficiency of the federal bureaucracy and communication between local government and the Corps is critical to completing needed flood protection projects in communities across Iowa.
“This is something I worked really closely with Congresswoman (Cindy) Axne on,” Finkenauer said. “This is a piece she really fought for given how badly hit her district had been through flooding last spring. This was making sure that some of our smaller towns got that relief.”
The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 was strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its authorization of critical navigation, flood risk management, recreation and environmental infrastructure projects.
The legislation heads to the President’s desk for his signature.