WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have voted to pass the bipartisan water infrastructure legislation that includes provisions for federal resources to improve waterways, flood control, and other related projects in Mississippi.
“This legislation is important to the well-being of our state and the entire nation. Army Corps of Engineers activities in Mississippi benefit affect our economy and the safety of our citizens. I’m pleased that this positive and bipartisan bill will extend and expand the ability of the Army Corps to continue this good,” said Cochran.
The water resources Development Act of 2016 would allow U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to have authority over projects throughout the country that handle navigational improvements, flood control, ecosystem restoration and clean water infrastructure. The bill passed 95-3.
“Federal investments in our nation’s water projects pay enormous dividends,” Wicker said. “Better ports and harbors help businesses and workers stay competitive and keep process down for consumers. Strengthening dams and levees protect our communities from flooding and can help safeguard critical fishing, shrimping, and oyster grounds. Upgrades to local infrastructure give people the confidence to know that they are drinking safe, clean water. This bipartisan legislation attempts to achieve all of those goals by clearing a backlog of critical projects.”
The WRDA was written by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Wicker serves on that committee. Cochran is the cairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds the Army Corps of Engineers and programs authorized in WRDA.
Several provisions were included due to the importance they hold in Mississippi:
- Directing the Army Corps to expedite its review of the draft “Integrated Feasibility and Environmental Impact Statement, Pearl River Watershed, Rankin and Hinds Counties MS,” a locally developed flood damage reduction plan designed to provide a permanent solution to Pearl River flooding which continues to pose and imminent threat to the Jackson Metropolitan Area;
- Expanding the Delta Headwaters Project authorization to encompass the entire Yazoo Basin foot hills region, well beyond the 16 small watersheds now authorized. This will allow the Army Corps to work in any watershed within a 15-county area: Holmes, Carroll, Montgomery, Webster, Chickasaw, Calhoun, Grenada, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha, Panola, Lafayette, Tate, DeSoto, Marshall, and Benton;
- Dredging shallow draft ports located on the Mississippi River, such as Natchez, Rosedale, Greenville, Claiborne County, and Vicksburg;
- Authorizing the Army Corps to conduct regional assessments of coastal vulnerabilities and opportunities to increase ocean and coastal ecosystem resilience, which could include shoreline and tidal marsh restoration;
- Increasing the funding authorization for needed environmental infrastructure projects, such as ongoing regional wastewater improvement project in DeSoto County;
- Creating a Gulf Coast Oyster Bed Recovery Plan to address long-term damage to oyster beds caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and floods in 2011 and 2016;
- Updating the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund by highlighting targets for increased funding, extending prioritization for donor and energy transfer ports and emerging harbors, and clarifying that the Corps can maintain harbors of refuge;
- Providing technical assistance for small communities who often lack the resources to comply with and complete the necessary applications to access federal wastewater funding programs.