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House subcommittee meets on water infrastructure bill

Congress heard proposals last week on a legislative package that sets federal water infrastructure policy and provides federal approval for civil works projects in harbors and waterways.

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment heard proposals and testimony on the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 — a bill that the National Marine Manufacturers Association said will ensure properly dredged federal channels that provide access to marinas and coastal communities.

WRDA, which runs on a two-year reauthorization schedule, is due this year.

In her opening statement, subcommittee chairwoman Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) said she remains committed to working in a bipartisan fashion for all future WRDA authorizations, according to the NMMA.

Subcommittee ranking member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) emphasized the need for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct and reinforce infrastructure projects that are critical for outdoor recreation.

While the WRDA is largely geared toward commercial activity and flood control, NMMA is working with elected officials to include language in the bill that would ensure recreation’s economic impact is considered when determining which projects to prioritize.

The association said the current “antiquated procedures” exclude recreational impact from economic benefit assessments when prioritizing water infrastructure projects.

NMMA is calling on policymakers to reform water resources legislation processes and policy in a way that recognizes and energizes outdoor recreation, an industry recognized by the Bureau of Economic Analysis as growing faster than the overall U.S. economy.

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