President Donald Trump yesterday signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The bipartisan measure, which passed the Senate 99-1 earlier this month, authorizes the Water Resources Development Act of 2018.
The WRDA has been supported by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and such groups as Boating United because it includes a number of boating’s top water infrastructure projects. Boating United sent out an alert Tuesday saying that President Trump had signed the bill.
“This is an extremely important piece of legislation that we have been working on for a long time,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich told Trade Only Today. “The key provisions relating to funding for Everglades restoration, aquatic invasive species and dredging are critical to the future of recreational boating.”
Among the projects included in WRDA, according to a fact sheet from NMMA, are measures to prevent aquatic invasive species. The new law will provide $110 million for watercraft inspection stations to prevent the spread of invasive species across the Columbia River Basin, Upper Missouri River Basin, the Upper Colorado River Basin, and the South Platte and Arizona River Basins.
WRDA also provides guidance for funding, operation and maintenance of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project near Joliet, Ill. NMMA said this will be key to preventing the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
It also requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to research and provide recommendations to Congress on managing invasive species.
The new law also authorizes $3.7 billion in funding for dredging, flood risk management and storm damage reduction across the United States. That number will increase to $5.6 billion when non-federal funds are included.
It creates a pilot program to award dredging projects across geographic regions.
The bill also authorizes Everglades restoration, including the Everglades Agricultural Area project, to better protect the Florida Everglades, as well as water quality in central and South Florida. The bill also authorizes the Corps of Engineers to research, develop and implement new technologies that reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.
The WRDA also requires the government to consider boating’s economic impact when making funding determinations for the certain projects. It will allow local communities to have more input into which projects receive funding. The new law also will streamline the approval process for local water infrastructure initiatives that require federal authorization.
WRDA also requires the Corps of Engineers to submit a report to Congress on any actions it has taken to remove obstructions from federal channels, ensuring that boaters have unrestricted access to waterways.