CONGRESSMAN BISHOP HERALDS WIN FOR SAVANNAH HARBOR EXPANSION PROJECT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) proudly heralded the win for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) as the full United States House of Representatives approved by a vote of 412 to 4 the conference report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). The conference report fully authorizes all components of the $706 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which involves the deepening of 30 miles of the Savannah River to improve shipping access to the Savannah Harbor. It also clears the way for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enter into an agreement with the State of Georgia to accelerate the construction timetable. The United States Senate is expected to approve the bill by the end of this week and send it to the President for his signature.
“In addition to improving access to vital waterways, WRRDA will create jobs and boost our economy by opening access to vital infrastructure projects across the country,” said Congressman Bishop. “Dredging of the Savannah River is long overdue, and now that the WRRDA conference port has passed through the House of Representatives, the Savannah Port is one step closer to being the major driver of statewide economic development that we have been working towards!”
The WRRDA conference report strengthens our water transportation networks to promote competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth. WRRDA contains no earmarks and makes major reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight in reviewing and prioritizing future water resources development activities.
The WRRDA conference report authorizes the construction of 34 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water resource related projects; establishes new processes for water selection, permitting, and project de-authorization; encourages non-federal participation in developing water infrastructure by establishing a pilot program for private-public partnerships; and other measures.
The legislation also includes bipartisan-sponsored language concerning the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River System and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Systems, urging the Governors of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to reach an agreement on an interstate waters compact as soon as possible, and pledging Congress’ assistance to the affected states to ensure prompt consideration and approval of any such agreement.
Reforms Bureaucracy, Accelerates Project Delivery, and Streamlines Environmental Reviews
- Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies
- Consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies
- Streamlines environmental reviews and improves coordination
- Deauthorizes $18 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRRDA 2007
- More than fully offsets authorizations with deauthorizations
- Phases out new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs
- Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps
Strengthens Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability
- No earmarks
- Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight
Increases Flexibility for Non-Federal Interests and Leverages Private Sector Investments to Multiply the Effect of Federal Funding
- Maximizes the ability of non-federal interests to contribute their own funds to move studies and projects forward
- Expands the ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to speed up the evaluation and processing of permits
- Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Program and new options to expand the local role in project implementation
- Creates innovative methods to invest in and finance water resources infrastructure and municipal drinking water and wastewater
Strengthens Safety and Protects Communities
- Strengthens dam and levee safety
- Improves Army Corps of Engineers responses to extreme weather events
- Encourages resilient construction techniques and the use of durable, sustainable, and innovative materials
Improves Competitiveness, Creates Jobs, and Strengthens Water Resources Infrastructure
- Authorizes needed investment in America’s ports, strengthens ports that move the majority of the Nation’s commerce, and ensures equity for those ports that contribute the most to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
- Supports underserved, emerging ports
- Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
- Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended to Congress by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs
For more information about the Water Resources Reform and Development Acts, please click here.