May 8, 2013--Water infrastructure bill heading to senate floor (Water World)

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 (S. 601) is expected to hit the U.S. Senate floor this week. Despite breezing through committee by a unanimous vote, the legislation may face opposition by lawmakers who do not understand the value of water infrastructure investment and those wishing to tack on non-germane amendments. The legislation, which authorizes important Army Corps of Engineers projects that will create jobs, spur economic growth, and enhance the nation's economic competiveness, is a top priority for Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.)

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate, over the next five years the government would appropriate approximately $3.4 billion for water resource projects like inland waterway and watershed management, including the construction of locks and dams. The bill would inject $443 million during that time for the development of a levee safety program to strengthen the country's flood preparedness in the case of natural disasters. The CBO also concluded WRDA would invest $235 million through 2018 to implement provisions related to harbor maintenance. Finally, the legislation would set aside $40 million for a pilot project seeking to lower the cost of capital and increase private investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. Modeled after the Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act, the program would provide credit assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to finance water projects of national significance.

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