U.S. Senate Passes Water Bill That Will Restore Ecosystems
The U.S. Senate today approved 99-1 a revised version of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S.3021), which guides the conservation, restoration and development of U.S. rivers, coastlines, harbors and waterways.
“This bipartisan legislation will help restore important ecosystems across the U.S. by ensuring that projects stay on track and that federal agencies invest prudently in water resources infrastructure,” said Kameran Onley, director of U.S. government relations for The Nature Conservancy.
“We were pleased to see the House and Senate put forward many good ideas to advance nature-based solutions in their respective water resources bills, even though some of those provisions were not included in the final compromise legislation. Nature—such as reefs that break waves and wetlands that absorb floodwaters—is oftentimes our most effective line of defense against storms. And nature-based solutions often cost less and outperform traditional, manmade infrastructure. In these ways, nature can provide win-win solutions that benefit communities and the environment. We look forward to working with Congress on the next water resources bill to find ways to expedite the use of nature-based solutions for tackling our nation’s water resources challenges.
“We are grateful to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Ranking Member Thomas Carper, D-Del., and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Penn., and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., for writing a bipartisan bill on schedule that will restore ecosystems and invest in nature.”
The Nature Conservancy emphasized its support for the following projects and provisions in the bill:
- Authorization of a study to address the feasibility and prioritization of habitat restoration projects and water quality monitoring in the lower Mississippi River basin, which covers Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi.
- Modification of the authorization of an existing feasibility study focused on ecosystem restoration in central Missouri’s Meramec River. The modification expands the study beyond the lower river basin to also include the upper basin.
- Authorization to remove a dam on the Green River in Kentucky. Removal of the dam would restore the river’s natural flow, benefiting wildlife and reducing flood risk for nearby communities.
- A measure that promotes realignment of levees and other flood structures after a disaster.
- A provision that updates how federal agencies pay for drinking water and wastewater projects using revolving loan funds and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.