WRRDA Clears Way for Critical Water Projects

A bill signed by United States President Barack Obama recently will result in hundreds of large contracting opportunities for private-sector firms according to Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) authorizes 34 critical water infrastructure projects valued at more than $12 billion. The WRRDA is designed to facilitate trade in the United States by improving ports and addressing critical water infrastructure issues.

Projects authorized, but are not limited to, include:

Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration: The state of Marylands massive Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States with over 11,600 miles of shoreline. In order to keep the water at its desired depth, the bay channel system must be dredged annually, producing 5 million cubic yards of sediment. Maryland authorities plan to use the sediment to expand island habitat on two new mid-bay islands. The project costs are estimated at more than $1.2 billion.

Boston Harbor Federal Deep Draft Navigation Improvement Project: The state of Massachusetts accesses the Atlantic Ocean through the Boston Harbor. The Commonwealth will receive $310 million to dredge Boston Harbor. The Massachusetts Port Authority believes that the dredging project may double the number of containers entering Boston.

Water Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Pilot Program: Possibly the most unique opportunity established through WRRDA will be a public-private partnership (P3) pilot program. The purpose of a pilot project will be to evaluate cost effectiveness and project delivery efficiency in the event that private contractors are allowed to take on water infrastructure projects. Work included in the pilot could range from coastal harbor and channel improvements to flood damage reduction and aquatic ecosystem restoration.

Sabine-Neches Waterway Channel Improvement Project: The states of Texas and Louisiana are home to seven of the 10 largest United States ports, and the fourth largest United States waterway the Sabine-Neches Waterway. The Sabine-Neches will soon undergo a critical improvement to deepen the channel from 40 feet to 48 feet. A deeper channel will allow larger ships access to “Americas Energy Gateway,” leading to new industrial growth in Southeast Texas and across the country. The total project costs are estimated at more than $1.1 billion.

Opportunities like these will continue for decades as commerce increases in the United States,” said Nabers.

The total trade through ports is expected to quadruple by the year 2030, and it will sustain industry and economic growth not only in port cities, but also throughout the nation.

Press Release, July 23, 2014

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