The Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) and The American Waterways Operators (AWO) expressed their support of the bipartisan process to move a long overdue Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). House efforts, led by House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), along with Ranking Member Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), as well as Water Resources and Environment Committee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Ranking Member Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), culminated in this week’s introduction of H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA).
WCI and AWO are urging the inclusion of provisions in H.R. 1149, the WAVE 4 Act, in a final House WRRDA bill, including language addressing an industry-supported increased user fee into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund as a way to responsibly reinvest in the critically important component of the U.S. transportation supply chain. With 30 bi-partisan co-sponsors, WAVE 4 was authored by Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and contains elements to modernize inland waterways lock and dam infrastructure.
Fifty-seven percent of the locks and dams on the nation’s inland waterways system have exceeded their economic design life expectancy, and funding for needed maintenance and modernization has been flat or decreasing over the years. Inland waterways operators, along with stakeholders from the agriculture, labor, business and manufacturing sectors, depend upon a reliable and efficient waterways system to transport their goods to domestic and international marketplaces in the most cost-competitive, fuel-efficient, environmentally sound way.
“Bipartisan WRRDA legislation is vitally needed for the economic well-being of our nation. We have waited six long years for the opportunity to address reforms necessary to achieve modernization of our inland waterways transportation system. But a critical part of our reform package is an increased user fee that is strongly supported by operators and stakeholder users of the system,” said Michael Toohey, WCI President/CEO.
“The country needs a robust and vital water transportation system to move commerce safely and efficiently and keep pace with future demand. We applaud the bipartisan leadership of the House Transportation Committee for this important step forward and look forward to working with them and with the House Ways and Means Committee to ensure that the final legislation contains all of the elements needed to safeguard the future of this vital component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” said Tom Allegretti, AWO’s President & CEO.
WCI and AWO applauded the bipartisan passage in the Senate in May of its WRDA bill, H.R. 601.