Committee Clears Water Resources Bill with Rhode Island Priorities

Whitehouse Succeeds in Expanding Authorization for Marine Debris Clean-up Projects,
like Providence River Piling Removal

Washington, D.C. – Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW)
approved the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, which includes
provisions that will promote improvements to our drinking water infrastructure and
support U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Rhode Island championed by Senator
Sheldon Whitehouse. The bill now moves to the full Senate.

Whitehouse is a member of EPW and helped draft the bill in Committee. He also
joined Senator Jack Reed in making a number of Rhode Island-specific requests to
address major water resources needs in the state, like the provision to expand the
Army Corps’ authority to clean up pilings and other marine debris from Rhode Island
waterways.

«In Rhode Island, we need clean and safe waterways to help draw visitors to our
tourism industry and commerce to our ports. And from Flint to Providence, we need
to do more to ensure that our water infrastructure is safe for American families.
That’s why supporting Army Corps projects and investing in our water infrastructure
is so important to our state,» said Whitehouse.

Starting in 1974, Congress has enacted a number of WRDA bills, which establish and
improve water-related programs and authorize the Army Corps to assist with flood
protection, ecosystem restoration, and navigation to facilitate the flow of commerce
in U.S. waterways.

In the WRDA bill that passed the Committee today, Whitehouse succeeded in including
a provision to expand the Army Corps’ authority to remove marine debris and other
obstructions from areas adjacent to navigable federal channels, such as sections of
the Providence River that are littered with wooden pilings and an area near the East
Providence Yacht Club containing remnants of a now defunct Army Corps bridge. The
provision would increase the funding authorization for the Corps’ marine debris
clean-up program from $1 million to $5 million.

In addition, the bill includes key provisions to help reduce lead in drinking water
and provide assistance to communities experiencing drinking water emergencies,
provide financial assistance for small and disadvantaged communities, and promote
the use of green infrastructure and other innovations for our water infrastructure.