Great Lakes Commission applauds Senate passage of Water Resources Development Act
The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) today applauded passage by the U.S. Senate of legislation to address several priorities important to the economy and environment in the Great Lakes region, as part of a comprehensive bill to advance water projects across the country. The Senate bill, passed by a 95-3 vote, reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for two years. It includes several provisions of importance to Great Lakes interests, including reauthorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, dedicated funding for the Great Lakes Navigation System, measures to support revitalization in waterfront communities, and actions to address water infrastructure needs and safeguard drinking water.
“Bipartisan, strong leadership from the entire Great Lakes Senate delegation helped ensure that provisions supporting the Great Lakes were included in this legislation,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the GLC. “The Great Lakes are the bedrock of our economy, support a thriving ecosystem, serve as a source of drinking water for more than 48 million people and directly generate more than 1.5 million jobs and $60 billion in wages annually. We urge the House to pass similar Great Lakes provisions in its version of the legislation swiftly, so that the House and Senate versions can be reconciled and signed into law.”
The House of Representatives is considering a narrower WRDA bill, which passed out of its Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in May.
The Senate WRDA bill passed today includes the following Great Lakes provisions:
- Authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a successful and popular program that is helping states and local communities clean up degraded toxic hotspots, restore habitat for fish and wildlife, thwart Asian carp and other invasive species, and prevent polluted runoff across the eight-state Great Lakes region
- Authorize the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act, which supports community efforts to leverage water resources by attracting water-dependent industries and investments
- Require the Army Corps of Engineers to complete guidance on managing the Great Lakes as a single, comprehensive navigation system
- Make permanent the use of priority funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for certain projects, including in the Great Lakes Navigation System
- Establish a Great Lakes Algal Bloom Coordinator to work with federal, state and local agencies to coordinate efforts to address the issue of harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes
- Reauthorize the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which supports fish and wildlife restoration, conservation and management projects in the Great Lakes region
- Direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study assessing the condition of the St. Lawrence Seaway and evaluating options to modernize it as a globally significant transportation corridor
- Amend several federal programs and provide funding to address problems facing water infrastructure and help communities protect drinking water.