USA: Senator Strongly Supports Dredging Projects
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt highlighted his support for several key provisions passed in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The bill authorizes critical funding for the operation of the inland waterways, ports, and harbors and passed in the Senate yesterday.
Blunt co-chairs the bipartisan Senate Mississippi River Caucus, serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and is the Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security.
“It’s been estimated our nation’s internal waterway system has more navigable water than the rest of the world, and these waterways happen to overlay the world’s largest piece of continuous farmland,” Blunt said. “With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the explosion of world food and energy needs, we must take advantage of our valuable waterways to compete in the global economy. I will continue to work through the Appropriations Committee to ensure we are using taxpayer dollars wisely to fund our important waterway operations, including the dredging of the small inland ports serving as the on and off ramps to the Mississippi River.”
Specifically, Blunt supported a number of important priorities in the WRRDA bill, including:
– Small Ports Funding
Blunt helped negotiate two new separate avenues for funding small ports. Out of funds appropriated above baseline Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund dollars, Blunt helped secure a portion of those funds to go towards underserved harbors, placing language in the bill that would direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the total quantity of commerce supported by the water body on which the project is located. On the lower Mississippi River alone, around 500 million tons of cargo moves each year- so this will help prioritize spending to Mississippi River ports.
– Project Authorizations
WRRDA authorizes projects reviewed and recommended by the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Blunt worked to ensure critical projects in Missouri received a decision before WRRDA’s passage. This resulted in the authorization of two projects in Missouri: the Jordan Creek Flood Risk Management Project and a project for renovations to the flood wall and retaining wall in Cape Girardeau. In 2009, then-Congressman Blunt secured appropriations to study the Jordan Creek Flood Risk Management Project.
The project will assist the City of Springfield, Mo. in reducing damages from flash floods along Jordan Creek, the surrounding area of which is heavily urbanized. The project will reduce 65 percent of the damages through detention basins and channel modification.
– St. Charles Land Swap
Blunt, along with U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer, worked to include authorization for the exchange of land between Ameren Corporation and the Corps. The exchange will reduce the Corps’ portfolio of commercial industrial leases and allow the Corps to expand its existing Public Stewardship Program in Illinois.
– Resilient Infrastructure
Blunt’s amendment ensures two new government studies authorized by WRRDA include an analysis of the use of resilient construction techniques was included. Resilient construction techniques help to reduce future vulnerability from flood, storm and drought conditions. Resilient construction has the potential to substantially reduce property damage and loss of life resulting from all forms of natural disasters.
– Protection of the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project
Blunt worked to ensure that a section prohibiting the Corps from charging for surplus water on the Missouri River would not be paid for with dollars from the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project.
Press Release, May 23, 2014