By Brad Walker, Rivers Director September 4, 2014
For those not familiar with the Water Resources Development Act, it is the legislation that authorizes the Corps of Engineers’ work on the major rivers of our nation. WRDAs have been enacted since 1974 and were the evolution of what was called the River and Harbor Acts that were enacted between 1824 and 1970. Both of these legislations have had an immense impact upon the health of our rivers, primarily in a negative way, for the almost exclusive purpose of exploiting them for economic development. It was not until the 1986 WRDA that there was any significant environmental concern through restoration efforts incorporated into the Corps mission.
|What is WRDA|
|WRDA authorizes studies and projects within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) primary mission areas: 1) commercial navigation; 2) flood risk management; and 3) aquatic ecosystem restoration. The projects that are authorized, historically through an earmarking process, include locks, dams, levees, beach sand replenishment, river island building and channel dredging. WRDA can also affect, through the Corps permitting process, public and private structures and permitting process, public and private structures and infrastructure near, over, or under rivers.|
In June 2014 Congress overwhelmingly passed the 2014 WRDA, which the President quickly signed into law. We talked about this WRDA in previous articles here and here last year. Most environmental and tax watchdog groups believe it is the worst WRDA ever. Business interests appear to love it. Not a surprise since environmental and tax watchdog groups were completely shut out of its drafting. So, how does the 2014 WRDA compare with the last WRDA Congress produced in 2007?
In spring 2008 I drafted an article reviewing the 2007 WRDA that was never printed but provides a snap shot of what I thought of that last WRDA. The articles opening paragraph is below:
The 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), at $23 billion, is a strong signal of the serious problems with the process, both within the Corps of Engineers and Congress. The bill increases the backlog to well over 1000 projects estimated to cost nearly $80 billion that could take up to 40 years to clear at an annual construction appropriation level of $2 to $2.5 billion.… Read the rest