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Nature-Focused Water Bill Clears Key Senate Panel

Package includes significant investments in natural infrastructure, coastline restoration

Photo of a rushing mountain stream in Wyoming with trees in the background.
Wyoming Stream Water rushes over rocks in a wooded Wyoming stream. © Kevin Paul/TNC

A biennial water infrastructure proposal that would invest in the restoration of ecosystems and resilience of coastal and inland communities got a bipartisan seal of approval today when it was approved by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Senate’s proposed Water Resources Development Act – traditionally bipartisan legislation Congress passes every two years – continues past packages’ recent focus on natural and nature-based solutions for water-focused infrastructure projects across the country.

The proposal places additional emphasis on accounting for climate change when planning and executing projects for flood risk reduction and drought resilience; strengthening technical assistance to local communities for project planning; and advancing ecosystem restoration projects across the country. It would also ease disadvantaged communities’ access to federal funds to address challenges ranging from storm surge to flood control to ecosystem degradation.

The following is a statement by Jimmy Hague, senior policy advisor at The Nature Conservancy:

“Nature can be a powerful tool for solving the challenges facing our coasts, waterways, ecosystems and communities. Leveraging nature-based and natural solutions is an effective approach for managing flooding, storm surge, drought and other impacts. And with these threats growing in a changing climate, the time to invest in these solutions is now.

“The Senate’s bipartisan Water Resources Development Act will help ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is targeting federal resources to nature-based solutions where they are effective and needed most, including in disadvantaged communities. Conserving and protecting natural resources is a powerful defense against storms and extreme weather events, all while delivering a host of additional environmental and community benefits.

“The bill also advances many vital ecosystem restoration projects that will reconnect rivers and wetlands to improve fish and wildlife habitat as well as slow the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species. We urge the Senate to quickly advance this package that will benefit both people and nature.”

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 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—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.