Sens. Biden & Carper: Long Overdue Water Resources Bill Passes Senate

First Water Resource Bill To Pass Since 2000; Clarifies Ownership of Roth Bridge

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, including four vital Delaware projects, passed the Senate today, 81-12. WRDA, which authorizes navigation, flood control and environmental restoration projects nationwide, was last enacted in 2000.
Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper (both D-Del.) championed this legislation, which authorizes projects and programs for the Army Corp’s Civil Works Program. It includes flood damage reduction, navigation, ecosystem restoration, recreation, hydroelectric power, water supply, aquatic plant control, and hurricane and storm protection.
The legislation also contains a Corps reform proposal that addressesmany ofthe mistakes made in the design and construction of the New Orleans levees.  This provision creates an independent panel to analyze the feasibility and quality of water projects expected to cost more than $40 million.  This panel would be independent from the Corps, and consist of experts in engineering, hydrology, biology and economics. 
This important section of WRDA, commonly considered “Corps reform,” contains similar improvements as the ones approved by the Senate last July.
“All over the country, WRDA provides vital local and national infrastructure improvements, many of which are years overdue,” said Sen. Biden. “I am pleased that the Senate incorporated these Delaware projects, including a final resolution on the Corps’ responsibility for the Roth Bridge that we have been seeking for some time.”
“People across Delaware will benefit from one or more of these four essential projects in this legislation, including maintaining St. Georges bridge, stabilizing the Indian River Inlet Scour Holes, improving the Delamarva Conservation Corridor and Corps involvement in the Delaware River Basin Commission,” said Sen. Carper, who served on the Senate conference committee that recently crafted this final legislation. “And the reforms included in the bill will ensure that Americans can trust that Corps projects are built to higher standards and no state will have to face what Louisiana faced during Hurricane Katrina.”
The legislation authorized four Delaware projects for the Corps, including:
  • Ownership of the SR1 Bridge and maintenance of the St. Georges Bridge: To clarify that the Corps is to assume ownership of the State Route 1 replacement bridge and continue to operate and maintain the existing St. Georges Bridge unless otherwise directed by Congress.
  • Indian River Inlet Scour Holes: To stabilize two scour holes threatening the Indian River Inlet and Bay. The first one is an 80-foot hole within 100 feet of a bulkhead at the U.S. Coast Guard facility.  The second hole is about 30-feet, and has formed along a stone revetment constructed by the Corps adjacent to the Coast Guard bulkhead.  The revetment is currently protecting several structures recently constructed by the State of Delaware, and the Coast Guard could be impacted in as little as one year.
  • Delmarva Conservation Corridor: To improve the economic viability of agriculture and the environmental health of Delaware’s watersheds, this program consists of two core components: 1) Establishing an agricultural operations and conservation “advocate’s office” to improve marketing and participation for existing and new conservation programs; and 2) develop and implement new conservation programs and improve existing programs to better fit the needs of Delaware’s unique economic and environmental needs.
  • Delaware River Basin Commission: To reassert the Corps’ responsibility to participate as a member of the Delaware River Basin and to contribute to its function.