House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan Water Resources Bill
Arlington, VA | June 07, 2018
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed by 408-2 the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, which guides the conservation, restoration and development of U.S. rivers, coastlines, harbors and waterways.
“House approval of this bill is an important step forward for policy change that will benefit the environment and the public safety of communities across the country,” said Lynn Scarlett, co-chief external affairs officer for The Nature Conservancy. “However, this bill could be improved if lawmakers add a measure that expedites the use of nature-based solutions to our nation’s water resources challenges. Nature is often our most effective line of defense against floods and storms.”
The Nature Conservancy emphasized its support for policies and projects in the bill that would restore important ecosystems and make progress toward increasing the use of natural infrastructure.
“We appreciate the leadership of Reps. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who championed provisions concerning nature-based solutions and community resilience against floods, respectively,” Scarlett said. “And we are grateful to Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) for their bipartisan leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and for producing a bill on schedule that will address these critical issues.”
The Nature Conservancy voiced its support for the following specific policies and projects:
• A provision directing the Army Corps of Engineers to consider realigning levees to enhance disaster preparedness. Setting levees farther back from the water will allow rivers to flow more naturally, resulting in reduced flood risk, less frequent repairs and new floodplain habitat.
• A measure initiating a U.S. Government Accountability Office study of how the Army Corps considers nature-based solutions when analyzing the feasibility of certain projects. The study also will identify challenges to advancing natural infrastructure and make recommendations for improvement.
• Authorization of 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.
• 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.
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.