Gallagher Fights for Northeast Wisconsin Priorities in Water Infrastructure Bill
November 18, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) today wrote to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-VA) urging them to keep provisions supporting Northeast Wisconsin in the final version of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2020. The final bill, which will authorize projects to strengthen our ports and harbors, inland waterways, and improve flood and storm protection, is being negotiated by a Conference Committee comprised of members of the House and Senate.
“Earlier this year, I was proud to secure a number of important initiatives for Northeast Wisconsin in the Water Resources and Development Act of 2020,” said Rep. Gallagher. “As members of the House and Senate negotiate a final agreement, I’m working to ensure they keep these common-sense provisions so our community can properly fund local ports, strengthen flood infrastructure, and better protect the Great Lakes from invasive species.”
The House version, which passed unanimously on July 29, featured a number of Rep. Gallagher's initiatives, including:
- Authorization for the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers to conduct a multipurpose study on the Upper Fox River and Wolf River watersheds. This study identifies where flood storage structures can be used to reduce flooding impacts downstream. Flood storage structures improve water quality by filtering nutrients and preventing them from draining into the Lower Fox River and bay of Green Bay.
- Authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study on the Lower Fox River basin. This study builds on an earlier study on storage capacity for flood waters in the Lower Fox River. If enacted, this would provide the Army Corps the authority to convene stakeholders for the purpose of discussing jurisdictions and developing a comprehensive agreement on the basin for the purposes of flood mitigation.
- A 12% set-aside in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Previous legislation included funding for small harbors like the Port of Green Bay, but failed to sufficiently increase the funding to adequate levels. This provision increased the amount allotted to small harbors on the Great Lakes Navigation System from 9.8% to 12%.
- Construction authorization for Brandon Road Lock and Dam and consideration of additional treatment and control techniques to manage invasive species. This would help prevent the movement of certain invasive species, such as Asian Carp, from the Mississippi and Great Lakes basins.
- Clarification that natural and nature-based features can be considered when carrying out Small Flood Control Projects. This allows stakeholders in Northeast Wisconsin to gather data and develop a greater understanding of the efficacy and costs of nature-based solutions, such as wetlands, as a way to help with flood control.
The House and Senate must reach an agreement and pass the final version by the end of the year. Rep. Gallagher's letter can be found here and full text of the letter is below:
Dear Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves:
As the House and Senate negotiate a final conference agreement of The Water Resources Development Act of 2020, I ask that the Committee give full and fair consideration to a number of proposals contained in the House version of the bill, HR 7575, that will improve flood mitigation, water infrastructure, and the health of our waters. The specific provisions below support the ongoing work done by the US Army Corps of Engineers and will ensure communities across the country, including those in my district, can preserve and protect our nation’s water resources.
- Section 102. This section ensures adequate funding for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes Navigation System.
- Section 114. This section adds a crucial change to flood risk management projects by including natural features and nature-based features to the list of options available for the design of such projects. Floodplains, coastal wetlands, dunes, reefs, and other natural features help break waves, absorb floodwaters, and defend communities against extreme weather events without having to build costly artificial infrastructure.
- Section 115. This section adds natural features and nature-based features to the list of alternatives that must be considered during a feasibility study for flood risk management projects.
- Section 125. This section creates a national policy on the beneficial reuse of dredged material by creating a federal standard, establishing pilot programs, and requiring USACE districts to create five-year regional dredged material management plans.
- Section 201. This section contains important authorizations for feasibility studies to be conducted by USACE to mitigation the effects of flooding.
- Section 402. This section allows for technologies or measures to be used to manage invasive aquatic species at the Brandon Road project.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and all of your work to ensure passage of this important legislation.