(Washington, D.C.) – Family Farm Alliance President Patrick O’Toole later today will present recommendations to the Senate Committee charged with crafting the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Mr. O’Toole will be joined by two other witnesses to testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at a hearing entitled, “Improving American Economic Competitiveness through Water Resources Infrastructure.” “Extreme hydrologic events – marked by drought on one end, and floods on the other – will require everyone in the West to adopt a new paradigm, one that truly promotes wise management of this limited and valuable resource,” said Mr. O’Toole, a cattle and sheep rancher from Wyoming. “This new paradigm will also mean additional investment in technology, conservation and new water storage and management infrastructure in order to deal with the uncertainties that lay before us.”
WRDA is a biennial piece of legislation that is the main vehicle for authorizing water projects to be studied, planned and developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). It is also the legislative vehicle for implementing policy changes with respect to the Corps’ water resource projects and programs. As such, this legislation is very important to the rural communities of the Western United States.
“We appreciate this opportunity to discuss conceptual ideas for the 2020 WRDA,” said Mr. O’Toole. “We’ve developed a wish list which assumes that the Senate WRDA under consideration will not necessarily be a Corps-centric bill, but could provide a vehicle to address other national and Western water resources challenges, as well.”
Recent WRDA bills – including the Water Infrastructure Improvements for our Nation (or WIIN) Act of 2016 and America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 – both included water titles that included non-Corps programs that benefited Western rural communities.
“We believe a Western water title of the bill could provide a vehicle for several other water bills currently being considered in Congress,” said Mr. O’Toole.
There are other ideas and legislative proposals that could also be included in such a title, as described further in Mr. O’Toole’s written testimony.
“The public infrastructure challenges our Nation is currently facing are daunting, and they will require innovative solutions,” said Mr. O’Toole. “Resilience will define success in the world of water policy. The future of how we utilize our water resources depends on funding options that help local communities have a flexible set of options.”
Joining Mr. O’Toole on the witness dais will be Jamey Sanders (Vice-President of Choctaw Transportation Company) and Derek Brockbank (Executive Director, American Shore and Beach Preservation Association). The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. (Eastern) and will take place in Room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.