U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) released last week its text for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, a water infrastructure package reauthorized by Congress on a biannual basis. The Senate’s version of this year’s WRDA bill includes several wins for the recreational boating industry, including top priorities which NMMA has advocated for over the past few years.
"Specifically, WRDA 2022 includes improvements to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) recreation management, promotion of USACE navigation projects that support recreation access, combatting the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), and further use of natural infrastructure solutions," said Callie Hoyt, director of federal government relations at the NMMA. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is among the nation’s leading providers for recreation opportunities on our public lands and waters and the committee’s inclusion of key provisions – including critical improvements to Army Corps’ funding, navigation management, and recreation projects – is a strong indicator of Congress’ intention to support outdoor recreation as a major economic driver across local communities and states. We'd like to especially thank Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito for their important work that will increase Americans' access to the open waters."
Key provisions in this year’s WRDA reauthorization bill include:
- Retention of Recreation Fees. Allows Corps to retain not less than 80% of recreation fees collected at recreation sites for operation and maintenance of activities at that site. Allows collected fees that remain unobligated on the day before this Act’s enactment to be used in the same manner.
- Criteria for Funding Operation and Maintenance of Small, Remote, and Subsistence Harbors. Requires the Corps to develop criteria for the annual evaluation and ranking of maintenance dredging requirements for small, remote, and subsistence harbors and include such criteria in the annual Civil Works Direct Program Development Policy Guidance of the corps. Requires a biennial report to Congress that identifies the ranking of projects based on the criteria developed.
- Increased Federal Cost Share of Brandon Road Project. Modifies state cost share requirement of Brandon Road project from 80 to 90%
- Improved Invasive Species Management. Increased authorized annual appropriations for invasive species partnerships between the Corps and applicable State and Federal agencies and adds the Lake Erie and Ohio River Basins as eligible locations for these partnerships.
- Evaluate the potential of natural distributed storage approaches to reduce natural hazard risk to western water supplies. Makes permanent the authority of the Corps to evaluate and approve water supply conservation measures at water resources development projects in States that have experienced repeated droughts. Also specifies that the Corps may evaluate a water supply conservation measure utilizing a natural feature or nature-based feature to reduce drought risk.