Graves Introduces 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

Bill Includes Important Provisions for North Missouri
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, along with his colleagues on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Ranking Member Sam Graves (MO-06) introduced the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA). The legislation plays a key role in any water infrastructure project, including flood control, navigation, ports, locks and dams.

“WRDA 2020 will facilitate commerce through our ports and inland waterways, improve flood control infrastructure, and help develop flood control plans that actually work. It also presses pause on the creation of harmful habitat structures in the river and facilitates repairs and improvements on our locks and dams in the Midwest,” Graves said.

“This bill will ultimately save the lives and livelihoods of many Americans who live and work along our rivers, all while helping rebuild our water infrastructure and our economy. It’s a big win for North Missouri and our entire country.”

Graves pushed for many items important to North Missouri to be included in the bill, particularly those dealing with flooding. WRDA 2020 will give the Corps new construction authority for communities facing repetitive flooding events. One of the worst roadblocks to ensuring a project can be done quickly is getting construction authority expeditiously, and this bill will allow those communities to be protected more quickly.

Non-federal levees, including many which protect North Missouri along the Mississippi, Missouri and rivers in between, participate in the P.L. 84-99 Program which enables them to receive assistance from the Corps of Engineers during flood events. WRDA 2020 will ensure that rehabilitation projects can be done efficiently and effectively after a flood event to minimize repair issues and ensure every community has the protection they need. 

WRDA 2020 also directs the Corps to prioritize Flood Risk Resiliency Technical Assistance for Economically Disadvantaged Communities, providing needed help and advice to many rural communities that have been inundated by flooding.

The bill also helps continue and expand the work already being done towards completing a Lower Missouri River Basin Flood Risk and Resiliency Plan. It provides the Corps of Engineers with authority needed to use the existing 2020 Investigations Study to directly look at site-specific project recommendations. The bill also directs the Corps to expand the scope of the 2020 Work Plan Investigations study, subject to the approval of the local non-Federal project sponsor, to include projects constructed as part of the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin Program and the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project.

Important provisions are also included in the bill to help ensure that river navigation continues unimpeded. Along the Missouri River, Interception-Rearing Complexes, or IRC’s, have been constructed or proposed to be constructed in the river to aid the pallid sturgeon. The structures impede navigation and it’s unclear if they actually do what they are purported do. Congressman Graves was able to prohibit their further construction in WRDA 2016 and WRDA 2020 would continue the prohibition on IRC construction until further evaluation is completed.

On the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River systems, the bill also makes an important change in the cost share for Inland Waterways Trust Fund projects. This change will accelerate the timeframe for funding and completion of projects to modernize outdated locks and dams on these rivers.

Finally, WRDA 2020 makes adjustments to water supply contracts with the Corps of Engineers at Smithville Lake with the City of Smithville and the City of Plattsburg, as well as Mark Twain Lake with the State of Missouri, Clarence Cannon Dam and the Clarence Cannon Wholesale Water Commission. These changes are expected to reduce costs for those communities.

You can read the bill here.