New water infra bill calls for P3 programme

The US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is seeking to overhaul legislation related to water infrastructure with a new Act.

US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders have introduced a new bipartisan bill to the House of Representatives aimed at facilitating development of the country’s water resources and water transportation networks.

The bill (HR 3080) will cut red tape, streamline the infrastructure project delivery process, and allow non-federal entities, whether state governments or the private sector, to contribute their own funds to move authorised studies and projects forward, according to a statement issued by the committee’s chairman Bill Shuster.

Highlights of the bill include setting hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies; consolidating or eliminating duplicate or unnecessary studies; offsetting new authorisations with the de-authorisation of old, inactive projects; establishing a Water Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership (PPP; P3) Programme; authorising needed investments in America’s ports; and reforming and preserving the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

“The bill contains no earmarks and makes major programmatic reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight of federal water resources development activities,” Shuster said. “Most importantly, WRRDA is about jobs and improving America’s competitiveness,” he added, citing the importance of a strong and effective water transportation network in a country’s ability to compete with its peers.

Shuster, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said the legislation was long overdue and had promised to deliver such a bill when he addressed the country’s governors at their summer meeting in August. Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years; however, no bill has been passed into law since 2007.

“WRRDA 2013 is the most policy- and reform-focused legislation of its kind in the last two decades,” Shuster said.