Waterways Council, Inc.’s (WCI) Executive Committee has endorsed two Senate waterways bills introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): “Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act” (S. 565) and “Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act” (WIN P3) (S. 566), co-sponsored by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).
S. 565 would “provide for the safe and reliable navigation of the Mississippi River, and for other purposes.” Referring to 2011 flooding in drought conditions in 2012-13, the bill cites “extreme weather events that pose challenges to navigation and life along the Mississippi River and are likely to become more severe and more frequent in the coming years.” The bill calls for a Mississippi River Basin study to improve and/or modify, where feasible, coordinated and comprehensive management of water resource projects related to weather. The bill would also identify Federal actions needed to prevent and mitigate weather impacts, including changes to authorized channel dimensions, operational procedures for locks and dams and reservoir management within the Mississippi River basin. S. 565 also calls for updating forecasting technology and carrying out a pilot program of not less than 10 years to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat in the middle Mississippi River.
S. 566 is aimed at creating a pilot program to “explore public-private partnerships as alternatives to traditional planning, design, and construction models to expedite project delivery and save taxpayers money.” The bill would authorize the Corps to accept up to 15 previously authorized navigation, flood damage reduction, and hurricane and storm damage reduction projects into the Pilot. Up to 12 projects would be required to have received Federal funding in the previous two fiscal years to be eligible while three would have received no Federal funding but be determined to have national economic significance. The bill would require the Corps to report to Congress on the results of the pilot and to recommend whether it should be extended nationally.
“WCI’s Executive Committee expresses its support and appreciation for the work of Senators Durbin and Kirk for legislation that investigates public-private partnerships for waterways infrastructure, and to Senator Durbin for legislation that injects flexibility into river system management during changing weather conditions,” said WCI President/CEO Michael J. Toohey.