Senate Makes Progress on Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing today on the need for a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), legislation that will guide the conservation and development of rivers and harbors in America.

ARLINGTON, VA | September 20, 2012

This important bill impacts water resource and infrastructure projects that meet our nation’s water needs, control and protect from floods, assist in navigation and restore freshwater ecosystems. 

Although WRDA bills are intended to be enacted every two years and they have traditionally received strong bipartisan support, the last bill was passed in 2007. 

“America’s water resources supply our drinking water, underpin our economy and sustain a healthy environment. These irreplaceable resources need smart management. The next WRDA is a great opportunity to encourage nature-based solutions and modernize our water infrastructure. Achieving those goals will help better meet the needs of today and prepare for the needs of tomorrow, while fostering environmental sustainability and economic prosperity,” said Michael Reuter, Director of the North America Freshwater Program for The Nature Conservancy. 

“Today’s hearing is an important step toward the development of the next, much-needed WRDA. Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe are paving the way for this vital legislation to move forward, and we are very grateful for their leadership and commitment,” he continued. “We applaud the Committee for highlighting the needs and opportunities for our water resource systems, and look forward to helping however we can.” 

The Nature Conservancy believes a modernized water resource management system will take a watershed-wide approach and work to balance the multiple demands on our water resources.  Investments in our water resources must be focused on finding solutions that provide multiple benefits such as safe and abundant water supplies, flood control, navigation, and healthy ecosystems into all projects. 

Incorporating nature and the benefits nature provides into water management and infrastructure projects is often a cost-effective means to achieve those objectives. For example, restoring natural floodplain areas can help provide flood control and protect against drought by mitigating floodwaters and storing water, while simultaneously increasing flexibility in the management of reservoirs and other water infrastructure. 

“There is broad agreement that improvements are needed in America’s investments in water resource projects—to provide deeper harbors, upgraded navigation locks and increase the amount of energy we get from hydropower. We now have the knowledge and ability to achieve these goals while also improving of the health of our freshwater ecosystems that provide valuable social and recreational benefits at the same time,” concluded Reuter. 

To read more about The Nature Conservancy’s specific recommendations for the next WRDA, please review a letter sent earlier this month to Senators Boxer and Inhofe on the issue

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tracy Connell
The Nature Conservancy

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