President Donald Trump signs the "America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018" into law during a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Donald Trump signed a sweeping law today which includes provisions that authorize and fund water resource projects and policies in the Western United States. The U.S. Senate earlier this month passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA), S. 3021, by a vote of 99-1. The House previously passed the bill on a voice vote.
AWIA - also known as the Water Resource Development Act (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’ and other federal water resource projects and programs.
"This new law is very important to the rural communities of the Western United States," said Patrick O’Toole, Family Farm Alliance president. "It includes specific provisions that will benefit my home state of Wyoming, the Upper Missouri River watershed, the Klamath Basin in California and Oregon, as well as rural communities and agricultural water users in parts of the rural West.”
Some of the key provisions of AWIA 2018 that apply to the Upper Missouri River system and the West include modifications to Fontenelle Reservoir in Wyoming, flood protection on the Snake River, reauthorization of the national levee safety program, adjustment of flood control rule curves on non-Federal reservoirs, control of invasive species, and evaluation of federal agency capabilities and capacity, among others.
"The AWIA 2018 also includes several sections we believe would give local interests a stronger role in flood management and provide a balanced fair means of addressing the challenges faced by rural communities with limited funds and human resources," said Pat Riley, a member of the Alliance's Advisory Committee from Montana, who testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in support of this legislation last May.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WYOMING), who chairs the EPW Committee, was consistent in his belief that this bill address the unique challenges faced by Western rural communities.
“The Family Farm Alliance thanks Chairman Barrasso, Western Members of Congress, and President Trump for their strong leadership in getting this important bill signed into law,” said Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen.
Click here to download a PDF of the Alliance's support letter for AWIA, sent to the EPW Committee on October 5.