WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) Tuesday, June 10, hailed the signing of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) into law, the first comprehensive water infrastructure legislation since 2007.
President Obama penned his signature to the bipartisan legislation Tuesday morning at the White House. The $12.3 billion bill contains major victories for Southern Illinois, including Enyart’s Mississippi River Sustainment Act.
“The best way to improve our economy and preserve jobs is to invest in our infrastructure,” Enyart said. “This legislation will provide critical dollars to strengthen our waterways and ensure they continue to be the gateway for our Southern Illinois crops, coal, chemicals and manufactured goods all around the world.”
“This new law is a big victory for Southern Illinois,” Enyart said. “The Mississippi River Sustainment Act, Metro East levee dollars, water infrastructure and job creation for Southern Illinois are all addressed in this new law. The only losers are Asian carp.”
The WRRDA conference report, approved by a near-unanimous bipartisan vote in the House last month, contains the Mississippi River Sustainment Act. First introduced by Enyart in the House, and later by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) in the Senate version, these provisions authorize a first-of-its-kind study to focus on the entire Mississippi River Basin during periods of extreme weather. It also provides recommendations to improve management of the Basin for navigation and flood risk management, taking into account the effect the management of the entire Basin has on the Mississippi River. The legislation would also improve tools used for river forecasting and expand flexibility for the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain proper navigation while restoring and protecting fish and wildlife habitats.
“Since my first day in office, I’ve been fighting for federal funds to cover the cost of the Wood River Levee,” Enyart said. “I’m elated to announce that we won that fight.”
The new law also authorizes $25.66 million in funding to continue necessary upgrades on the Wood River Levee. This ensures levee defects caused by construction on the Melvin Price Dam are completed at 100 percent federal cost.
“This bill also provides for programs to stop the spread of Asian carp,” Enyart said. “The Mississippi and Illinois rivers desperately need a permanent solution to this problem. With this bill, the Corps of Engineers gets the permanent authorization to stop the invasive species.”
The 2007 WRRDA bill, the last water bill enacted by Congress, provided for annual appropriations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Asian carp control programs. The legislation signed Tuesday makes those emergency measure programs permanent.
WRRDA also creates a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority, allowing for federal-private programs to finance water infrastructure. The $175 million in project subsidies would encourage the use of American-made products like iron and steel, creating jobs and economic growth for companies like U.S. Steel in Granite City.