Sen. Carper on WRDA: “Passing this Bill Shows We Can Get Things Done”

Highlights projects he championed in final WRDA legislation

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, praised the Senate for passing the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the first water infrastructure bill to pass the Senate since 2007. Sen. Carper worked to include many infrastructure projects and policy priorities within the WRDA bill that would benefit Delaware, including regional sediment management, beach nourishment and disaster preparedness, among others. The Senate passed WRDA by a vote of 83-14.

“Passing this bill shows we can get things done,” said Sen. Carper. “Too often, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are unwilling to compromise to put the needs of our country ahead of petty political divisions. This wide, bipartisan vote to pass the Water Resources Development Act demonstrates that we can work together to boost our national infrastructure in ways that will grow our economy while protecting our natural resources. I was particularly proud that the bill included several provisions that will benefit Delaware, from beach nourishment that helps mitigate future storm damage like what we saw during Hurricane Sandy to ecosystem restorations in the Delaware River and Bay. Additionally, it included a new project review program which will ensure that we are spending scarce taxpayer dollars wisely on all our water infrastructure projects. I’m proud of my colleagues on the Environment and Public Works Committee for shepherding this bill across the finish line, and I urge the House to pass its own bill right away.”

The measures that Sen. Carper pushed to include in WRDA that would benefit Delaware include:

  • Disaster Preparedness and Post-Disaster Assessment – Ensures that storm protection projects are prioritized to focus on the most vulnerable and important areas to protect, including public infrastructure such as the Indian River Bridge, and that watershed assessments are carried out after a disaster to identify what storm damage mitigation projects may be needed to provide additional protection.
  • Regional Sediment Management – Broadens provisions and increases program flexibility to allow the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and other agencies to more efficiently manage sediment among Delaware’s projects. This will make it easier for the state to keep our shipping channels clear, our coastal communities protected, and our aquatic ecosystems healthy and thriving. It will accomplish this while saving taxpayers money by taking a regional approach that manages several projects together.
  • Delaware River Estuary Ecosystem Restoration – Gives state, local and non-governmental organizations the authority to expedite restoration initiatives in the Delaware River estuary.
  • Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration – Doubles federal funding for the Delaware Bay oyster restoration program from $5 million to $10 million.
  • Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) – Ensures that the Delaware River Basin Commission can continue to provide the state with access to a clean, safe, and adequate water supply. This provision directs the Army Corps to make its legally required contribution to the DRBC budget, which manages the waters of the Delaware River Basin for New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
  • Balance Harbor Maintenance with Other Army Corps Activities – Ensures a balanced approach to funding for Army Corps of Engineers activities, including navigation, coastal flood protection, and ecosystem restoration.
  • Expiring Authorizations for Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Projects – Establishes an expedited reauthorization process for expiring coastal flood protection projects, relying on existing data rather than starting a new project study from scratch, which can take up to a decade and cost millions of dollars.
  • Independent Technical Review – Extends and improves the requirement Sen. Carper fought for in the 2007 WRDA bill requiring independent technical review of plans for large or controversial Army Corps projects that ensure water projects are well-designed and that we are getting the most for our taxpayer dollars.
  • North Atlantic Coastal and Marine Management Plan – Authorizes the Army Corps to work with states, coastal towns, and other stakeholders to develop and implement coordinated ecosystem restoration projects from Virginia to Maine through a regional assessment and plan.
  • Removal of Unexploded Military Munitions Along the Delaware Coast – Ensures that the federal government pays the cost of removing any unexploded military ordnance accidently contained in beach nourishment material.