An amendment sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that will increase the chances that much needed maintenance and dredging money gets to small ports, including those on the Oregon Coast, is part of a water resources bill passed by the United States Senate yesterday.
The amendment, one of several in the bill important to Oregonians, directs the Army Corps of Engineers to use money left over from maintenance of high-use, deep-draft ports and the Great Lakes Navigation System for moderate- and low-use port projects that have not been maintained in the preceding six years.
“Ports up and down the Oregon Coast, both big and small, are the engines that drive the economic health of coastal communities,” Wyden said. “I want to ensure that Oregon’s smaller ports are taken care of and get the much-needed maintenance and dredging that is critical to their community’s survival.”
The amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), was included in the Water Resources Development Act that now goes to the House. The Oregon ports potentially benefiting from the Wyden amendment include: Brookings Harbor, Gold Beach, Port Orford, Bandon, Coos Bay and Charleston Boat Harbor, Umpqua, Siuslaw, Toledo, Newport, Depoe Bay and Garibaldi.
The Senate version of the water resources bill provides $1.6 billion in vital funding to address navigation infrastructure needs over the long-term. The increased funding is critical to ensuring that Oregon’s smaller ports receive much needed dredging and maintenance.
Other Oregon-related amendments in the Senate-passed bill include:
– Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA): Senator Merkley’s pilot program to provide low-interest loans for flood control projects and drinking/wastewater treatment facilities.
– Clatsop County levee de-authorizations: Allows stakeholders to develop ecosystem restoration projects.
– Hood River flowage easement: Facilitates recreation and habitat restoration in Hood River.
– Lower Columbia River and Tillamook Bay Ecosystem Restoration: Raises the authorization level for the study from $30 million to $75 million
– Cooperative agreement with Columbia River Basin Indian tribes: Gives the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to enter cooperative agreements with the tribes.
– State-based watershed planning: Involves the states in watershed planning decisions that will help better target limited federal dollars and technical assistance to where it is most needed and eliminate duplicative efforts.
– Rural community flood protection act: Helps rural communities that cannot afford to have their levees certified and are facing increases in flood insurance premiums due to the lack of the certification.
– Section 214 permanence: Allows the Army Corps of Engineers to accept funds from non-Federal public entities, like ports, to hire additional regulatory staff to expedite the permitting process.
– Hammond Marina land transfer: The City of Warrenton would like to obtain ownership of Armey Corps of Engineers property in the Hammond Marina for development purposes.
– Invasive species inspections for the Columbia River Basin: Increases inspections needed to prevent the invasive species from spreading and threatening delicate ecosystems.
– Dam optimization: Provides clearer authority to the Army Corps of Engineers to identify unrealized benefits from the existing water infrastructure by updating and optimizing operations of existing dams.
Press Release, May 16, 2013