Graves Pro-Louisiana Provisions Secured in U.S. House Passed Water Infrastructure Package
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) secured several provisions that will advance Louisiana’s flood control, ports, inland waterways, hurricane protection, coastal restoration and other infrastructure priorities in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA). Graves, as a member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is positioned to advance the Army Corps of Engineers’ activities and projects at the local level so our communities, fisheries, ecosystem and economy are more resilient against hurricanes, storms and floods. He included several amendments and other provisions in the legislation, during committee consideration, that remained in the House-passed legislation.
“Louisiana’s coastal and water future is integral to America’s long-term economic competitiveness and it is critical to our families right here at home. Louisiana’s ports and waterways connect dozens of states to global commerce, we drain much of this nation’s water, send our seafood across the country and power America with our energy. We have to get this right,” Graves said. “We also have to hold the Corps accountable to their mission to protect all American communities during hurricanes, storms and floods – and that is what this bipartisan legislation advances by authorizing the nation’s water resources infrastructure projects and dictating how those investments are selected, prioritized and carried out.”
Graves’ Provisions Included:
- Section 403 – Authorizes construction of both the Houma Navigation Canal and a deepening project to enhance access to Port Fourchon and Bayou Lafourche (working with Congressman Steve Scalise).
- Section 202 – Directs the Corps to expedite flood protection recommendations for the Amite River watershed (most of the Capital Region) and Upper Barataria Basin coastal storm risk management project.
- Section 210 – Requires a plan for improved management of flood waters on the Lower Mississippi River (from Missouri south). The provision directs the Corps to utilize all tools (floodways, outlets, reservoirs, locks, dams, etc.) to manage one of the largest watersheds in the world, which includes waters from 32 states and 2 Canadian provinces.
- Section 209 – Creates a federal-state taskforce to coordinate the investment of multiple agencies into the restoration of Louisiana’s coast (similar to the Florida Everglades), as well as annual reports detailing progress.
- Section 140 – The language, offered by Graves during committee markup, creates a path for renegotiating the accrual of interest for the New Orleans-area Hurricane Protection System (HPS), a major storm resilience win for South Louisiana. Renegotiating the agreements will help the State to commit savings to build flood protection and coastal restoration priorities. Some estimates indicate this could result in cost savings and investment of one billion dollars (working with Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond and Governor John Bel Edwards).
- Section 128 – An amendment to ensure that the coastal and tidal waters of Louisiana are included in a program to detect, treat and ultimately eliminate the the Gulf of Mexico dead zone caused by runoff from other states.
- Section 125 (d) – This section builds on a Graves-authored provision from the 2018 WRDA which allows the Corps to bundle dredging projects for cost and time savings. The project is expected to increase the efficiency of a major project to deepen the Mississippi River from the Gulf to Baton Rouge.
- Section 333 – Adds an additional financial tool for the State to apply recognized credit from previous restoration work as a payment against funds owed to the federal government. The provision will further the ability of the State to invest in new projects.
- Section 137 – Expands upon current law to allow the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, parishes and our levee districts to lead Corps projects using federal funds when they can demonstrate cost and time savings.
Click the video above or here to watch Graves participate in the WRDA Floor debate.
WRDA, biennial legislation, is part of the president’s broader infrastructure package but remains focused on water infrastructure projects, as compared to the recent highway funding bill passed by the U.S. House. The 2020 WRDA legislation authorizes 35 Corps feasibility studies and construction of all 34 pending proposed projects with final Chief’s Reports within the Corps Civil Works mission areas, including navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction, shoreline protection, and ecosystem restoration.
More information about the WRDA legislation can be found here.