Water infra bill passes House Committee

The US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has unanimously approved a bill aimed at reforming the country’s water infrastructure legislation.

The US House of Representatives' Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has unanimously approved the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), a bipartisan bill which supporters claim is the most policy- and reform-focused legislation of its kind in the last two decades.

The bill (HR 3080) is designed to cut federal red tape, streamline the project delivery process, and strengthen water infrastructure networks, increasing the country’s competitiveness and economic growth, according to a statement released by the Committee.

Some of the ways in which WRRDA aims to achieve these objectives is by: setting strict deadlines on the time and cost of studies; consolidating or eliminating redundant studies; offsetting new authorisations with the de-authorisation of $12 billion of old, inactive projects; allowing state and local governments as well as the private sector to use their own funding in moving authorised studies and projects forward; establishing a water infrastructure public-private partnership programme; and reforming and preserving the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

“At its heart, WRRDA is about jobs and improving America’s competitiveness,” Committee chairman Bill Shuster said. “A strong water transportation network is critical to keeping pace with other nations that are improving their own infrastructure networks and gaining ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”

Shuster, a Republican from Pennsylvania, had promised to deliver such a bill in early August, saying that this type of legislation was long overdue. Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years; however, no bill has been passed since 2007.

The bill is expected to be considered by the House of Representatives later this autumn.