Forward-Thinking Water Bill Will Protect Wildlife and CommunitiesTue, 08 Dec 2020 07:51:38 CST
The final text of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 released today by House and Senate negotiators, will provide crucial support for advancing restoration and resilience efforts and will benefit wildlife across the country.
“This forward-thinking bill will better prepare the nation for extreme weather, elevating nature’s ability to protect communities and helping to level the playing field for flooding solutions that incorporate natural systems, such as wetlands, dunes, and floodplains,” said Jessie Ritter, director of water resources and coastal policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “Importantly, it also provides extra support to disadvantaged communities to meet their resilience needs, and advances restoration planning and projects around the nation, from America’s Everglades to the mighty Mississippi River and its delta. We thank Chairmen Defazio and Barrasso and Ranking Members Graves and Carper for their bipartisan leadership on this legislation.”
The National Wildlife Federation supports many important provisions of this bill, including:
§ Provisions that remove barriers to, and drive use of natural infrastructure, including by ensuring that natural infrastructure solutions will benefit from the same cost-share requirements as non-structural measures.
§ Careful evaluation of natural infrastructure solutions to protect communities from storms and floods, including a pilot program that provides full federal funding for flood and storm risk reduction studies for economically disadvantaged communities and ensures robust evaluation of natural infrastructure solutions.
§ Implementation of the Water Resources Principles, Requirements and Guidelines (PR&G) by the Corps, including fully engaging the public in that effort. Effective implementation of the PR&G will bring the Corps’ water resources planning process in line with 21st Century water resources management principles, and improve water resources planning across the board.
§ Updating Corps policies on environmental justice considerations and community engagement and consultation, and expansion of Corps consultation requirements with Tribal and indigenous groups when working on or adjacent to Tribal lands and areas.
The final bill did not include provisions that would have authorized increased federal investments in clean water infrastructure and reauthorized successful EPA regional restoration efforts. The National Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with the Committees to advance America’s water infrastructure needs in future packages.
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