Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) said that the conference report that reconciles House and Senate water resources development legislation was filed yesterday.
This legislation, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), authorizes funding for Army Corps of Engineers navigation, flood control and environmental restoration projects. This legislation will directly benefit Oregon’s small ports.
As a member of the House-Senate conference committee who drafted the report, DeFazio secured the provision that guarantees the nation’s small ports, a number of them in Southwest Oregon, will receive at least 10 percent of annual funding provided for dredging for the next eight years.
Assuming recent funding levels are maintained, this set-aside will generate at least $90 million annually for small ports, and will generate additional revenue if Congress provides more than 2012 funding levels to the Corps.
“This bill is a huge victory for Oregon’s coastal communities because it dedicates millions of dollars to long-overdue investment in our ports. This legislation will create jobs, make conditions safer for Oregon’s fishing and recreation industries, and help the U.S. stay economically competitive,” DeFazio said. “This is the first glimmer of life in an otherwise very divided Congress. I hope this same sense of bipartisanship and urgency continues as we tackle the next great challenge: replenishing the Highway Trust Fund in order to repair our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.”
Additional highlights of the legislation
– The legislation calls for 100 percent utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for harbor maintenance and dredging by 2025. Currently only about half of the funds collected through the HMTF are used for harbor maintenance;
– The legislation also authorizes $42 million for the Willamette River Floodplain Restoration Project, which will help restore aquatic habitat for Upper Willamette River Chinook salmon, bull trout and Oregon chub, in addition to improving floodplain and aquatic habitats for other fish and wildlife species;
– In addition, it starts to address the threat of invasive species in the Columbia River by authorizing the Corps to establish watercraft inspection stations in the vicinity of Corps reservoirs in the States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington with the highest likelihood of preventing the spread of invasive species;
– The legislation makes improvements to FEMA’s dam safety program by increasing the funding, which could help spillway issues on dams in the Willamette Valley. It also develops a dam safety education and awareness initiative to assist the public in preparing for, mitigating for, responding to, and recovering from dam incidents;
– The final legislation is expected to be considered by the House early next week and the Senate shortly thereafter. It will then be sent to the President for his signature.
Press Release, May 16, 2014