New Water Resources Bill Includes Long-Sought-After Provisions on St. George’s Bridge, DRBC Funding and a New Delmarva Conservation Corridor
Apr 15 2005
WASHINGTON (April 15, 2005) – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week approved new legislation that includes long-sought-after provisions to deal with ongoing water-related projects in the Delaware and the Delmarva region. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a member of the committee, worked to include three major provisions in the Water Resources Development Act of 2005 to benefit Delaware. Specifically, the bill includes language: directing the Army Corps of Engineers to assume ownership and responsibility of the St. George’s Bridge; authorizing the Corps to help the Agriculture Department establish a new conservation program in Delmarva; and requiring the federal government to pay its share of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s annual budget. Carper praised the legislation as a big step forward for Delaware and vowed to fight for the state's needs as the bill moves through Congress. The full Senate is expected to take up the measure this spring. “Many of these projects have been on the delegation’s agenda for years, and I’m hopeful we can finally resolve them,” said Carper. “I will continue to work hard to see these important projects are retained as the bill moves through the legislative process.” In 1990, Congress authorized construction of the SR1 Bridge over the federally owned Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Completed in May 1997 the bridge was necessary to meet the federal obligation to provide “good and sufficient crossings”over the waterway. Ownership of the SR1 Bridge, and the fate of the nearby St. Georges Bridge, have been in dispute ever since. The legislation approved today includes language directing the Army Corps of Engineers to finally assume ownership of the SR1 Bridge over the C&D Canal—retroactive to May 1997. WRDA 2005 would also prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from closing or taking down the St. Georges Bridge without specific congressional authorization. In addition, the bill would require the Corps to work with the Agriculture Department in setting up a “Delmarva Conservation Corridor Demonstration Project.” The program would develop and implement new conservation programs – and mitigate environmental damage – in areas of Corps construction. Furthermore, WRDA would direct the federal government to pay its share of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s annual budget. The federal government, which has not chipped in since 1996, is required to put forth 20 percent of the Commission’s annual budget. The DRBC oversees water usage and allocations in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.