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GLIN==> Senate Passes WRDA



Last night, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 1495) which is the legislation that authorizes Corps of Engineers’ projects and activities.  Because the bills that the House and Senate passed are different, there will be a conference committee to work out the differences, and it is unclear when a final bill will be enacted. The full bill can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/, and the following provisions, which have a Great Lakes-wide impact, were included in the bill passed by the Senate.

 

 

 

Great Lakes Projects in Senate WRDA 2007

 

  • Includes a national authority to provide credit for in-kind contributions from non-federal sponsors, and this authority can be used Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration program and the John Glenn Great Lakes Basin Program. In-kind contributions are a significant resource for Corps projects, and this language will bring parity to all Corps projects so that in-kind contributions may be used to satisfy the non-federal cost-share requirement. (Sec. 2001)

 

  • Amends Section 204 of WRDA 1992 to expand the type of beneficial use of dredge material projects eligible for inclusion under this authority.  Expanding this authority will allow dredge material to be used for the repair and improvement of public infrastructure, public lands and other uses with public benefit, such as upland habitat restoration, topsoil creation, landscaping, land reclamation, capping, shore protections, beach nourishment, replacement fill and construction materials for in-water and upland scenarios. Dredging improves and maintains navigation channels in the Great Lakes and is used for other purposes such as waterfront construction, utilities placement, and environmental remediation.   (Sec.2012)

 

  • Amend Section 206 and Section 1135 of WRDA, which are national programs used to restore and improve the quality of the environment and ecosystem functions, to increase the amount of funds that may be appropriated each year. Because the construction and operation of some civil works projects may adversely impact the quality of the environment, Congress authorized the Corps to restore or improve the quality of the environment and ecosystem functions impaired by these projects.  The programs are both currently authorized at $25 million, and the bill authorizes $75 million for Section 206 and $50 million Section 1135.  The Corps has used Sections 206 and 1135 for projects throughout the Great Lakes to restore and protect the environment, and several sea lamprey dispersal barriers are being designed using this authority. (Sec. 2033 and Sec. 2034)

 

  • Authorizes $20 million for the Environmental Restoration of Lake St. Clair. Authorizes the Corps to implement the recommendations contained in a comprehensive management plan for the environmental restoration of the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. (Sec. 3074)

 

  • Clarifies the cost sharing arrangements of the Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration program. This language clarifies that a reconnaissance study is to be performed at full federal expense under a program created in WRDA 2000 in which the Corps cooperates with other agencies to plan, implement, and evaluate projects supporting the restoration of the fishery, ecosystem, and beneficial uses of the Great Lakes. (Sec. 3141)

 

  • Reauthorizes the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans and Sediment Remediation program. Under the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans and Sediment Remediation Program the Corps provides technical support to states and Remedial Action Plan committees so that the U.S. can meet international obligations.  Through the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the United States and Canada agreed to develop remedial action plans (RAPs) for each of the 43 internationally recognized areas of concern, 26 of which are wholly located in the United States.  RAPs embody a comprehensive ecosystem approach to restoring and protecting beneficial uses and to identifying specific actions to resolve pollution problems.  The Corps’ authorization is extended to 2011.  (Sec. 3142)

 

  • Reauthorize the Great Lakes Tributary Models Program.  The authorization of the Great Lakes Tributary Models Program, which calls for the Corps to develop sediment transport models for Great Lakes tributaries, is extended to 2011.  These computer models simulate the erosion, transport and deposition of sediments within a watershed, and can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of soil conservation and other source control measures on the loadings of sediments and sediment contaminants to Great Lakes harbors and navigation channels.  (Sec. 3143)

 

  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to complete the dispersal barrier in the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal.  Specifically, the Corps is authorized to convert Barrier I into a permanent facility, to complete construction of Barrier II, and to operate and maintain both dispersal barriers at full Federal cost.  The Corps is further authorized to study options for hydrologic separation while maintaining the movement of cargo and recreational vessels. Any states that provide funds to the effort will be reimbursed through cost sharing of other projects in their state and both barriers will be operated and maintained at full federal expense (Sec. 5015)

 

  • Directs the Secretary to expedite the operation and maintenance of navigation projects in the Great Lakes. This provision, which is similar to provision in the House bill inserted by Rep. James Oberstar, aims to address the very serious dredging backlog in the Great Lakes, which has resulted in ships having to carry reduced loads, freighters getting stuck in channels, and some shipments that have simply ceased altogether. The provision expedites the operation and maintenance, including dredging, of the navigation features of the Great Lakes and Connecting Channels for the purpose of supporting navigation.

 

 

 

Joy Mulinex

Great Lakes Task Force Director

Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) & George V. Voinovich (R-OH)

Northeast-Midwest Institute

(202) 224-1211