WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and a Senate conferee to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) conference between the House and Senate, celebrated the Senate passage of the WRRDA conference report. The House passed the measure on May 20, 2014. The bill now goes to the president for his signature.
“It’s always heartening to see Congress work as it should,” Sen. Carper said. “Today we came together around improving our nation’s water resources and infrastructure systems. This bipartisan, bicameral compromise to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act will reinforce and expand our water systems nationwide, including harbors, dams, levees, and waterways, as well as make key environmental improvements. Investing in our water infrastructure will help create jobs and grow our economy while expanding protections for natural resources in Delaware and across America. As we more frequently face extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, it’s critical that we continue to support measures that will help mitigate damage from future weather incidents and support ecosystem restoration. I was proud to play a role in developing this final legislation and I’m thrilled that we were able to include several investments that will protect and nourish Delaware’s coastal shores and help revitalize ports and waterways from the Chesapeake Bay watershed to the Port of Wilmington.”
The measures Sen. Carper pushed to include in the bill that will benefit Delaware are:
• Northeast Coastal Region Ecosystem Restoration: Creates a regional program to plan, design, and construct small projects for aquatic ecosystem restoration within the coastal waters of the Northeastern United States from Virginia to Maine.
• Beach Nourishment: Modifies the authority of the Secretary of the Army to provide periodic beach nourishment – replacing sand that is lost through erosion – for authorized projects by authorizing the secretary to review the feasibility of extending periodic nourishment beyond the current 50-year limit by a period of not to exceed 15 years.
• Regional Sediment Management: Modifies an existing program for sediment management to allow expanded uses and increase flexibility in using sediment for shoreline protection and coastal restoration.
• Planning for Extreme Weather: Requires an analysis of how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building infrastructure in response to extreme weather.
• Post-Disaster Watershed Assessments: Authorizes the Army Corps to conduct post-disaster watershed assessments immediately following a disaster and implement flood control and ecosystem restoration projects identified in those assessments, ensuring the Army Corps can more quickly respond to future disasters.
• Independent Technical Review: Extends peer review requirements for large, costly, or controversial Army Corps projects, or at the request of a governor, for five years.
• Chesapeake Bay Environmental Restoration and Protection Program: Reauthorizes the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Restoration Program, which was originally authorized in Section 510 of WRDA 1996, including expanding the program to New York, West Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
• Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration: Increases the federal funding limit for Delaware Bay oyster restoration program, which was authorized in 1986, from $5 million to $10 million.
• Removal of Unexploded Military Munitions Along the Delaware Coast: Ensures the federal government covers the cost of removing any unexploded ordnance accidently contained in beach fill material for federal storm damage protection projects.