Bipartisan Water Resources Bill Introduced in Senate Includes Ecosystem Restoration and Nature-Based Solutions
ARLINGTON, VA. | May 09, 2018
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday introduced the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The legislation aims to help meet the nation’s water needs, control and protect communities from floods and storms, enable navigation and restore freshwater and coastal ecosystems.
“We applaud the inclusion of projects and policies in this bill that will advance the restoration of critical ecosystems and will encourage the use of nature in solving our country’s water resources challenges,” said Jimmy Hague, senior water policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy. “Nature is often our first and most effective line of defense against floods and storms. Wetlands, natural floodplains, coastal dunes and ocean reefs can help communities reduce flood and storm damage, improve water quality and protect wildlife habitats.
“We appreciate the bipartisan approach and strong leadership of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ranking Member Thomas Carper (D-Del.) in writing the legislation. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the bill improves management of the nation’s water resources while achieving positive environmental and economic outcomes, and to include additional provisions that strengthen the use of natural infrastructure.”
The bill authorizes a study to address the feasibility and prioritization of habitat restoration projects in the lower Mississippi River basin, which covers Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Conservancy proposed the study in partnership with the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee, a coalition of 12 state natural resource conservation and environmental quality agencies in the six states of the basin. Sportsmen and elected officials from throughout the basin also support authorizing the study.
“This feasibility study will help advance the kind of comprehensive ecosystem restoration program needed to address the natural resource needs of the people and wildlife in the lower Mississippi River region,” Hague said. “The lower Mississippi River is a nationally significant ecosystem that is vital for navigation, flood-risk reduction and community well-being.”
The bill also modifies the authorization of an existing feasibility study focused on ecosystem restoration in the Meramec River in central Missouri, a biologically important region that houses six species of endangered mussels. This legislation expands the study beyond the lower river basin to also include the upper basin, which needs restoration because of lead pollution from historic mining operations.
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.