WASHINGTON, D.C. – Water infrastructure legislation authorizing federal resources for improving waterways, flood control and other projects in Mississippi is heading for presidential approval following final congressional approval Saturday.
The bill, approved Thursday by the House of Representatives, passed the Senate by a vote of 78-21. It will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
All of Mississippi’s congressional delegation voted “yes” on the legislation. Those members include Rep. Trent Kelly, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Gregg Harper, Rep. Steve Palazzo, Sen. Thad Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker.
The “Water Resources Development Act of 2016” (S.2848 or WRDA) – included in the “Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act” – authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects across the country that are focused on navigational improvements, ecosystem restoration and clean water infrastructure.
Mississippi’s delegation focused on provisions to expand the ability of the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to work with state and local officials to improve flood control, inland ports, wastewater infrastructure, conservation and coastal resilience.
The following Mississippi-related projects were included in the bill:
• Directing the Army Corps to expedite its review of the draft “Integrated Feasibility and Environmental Impact Statement, Pearl River Watershed, Rankin and Hinds Counties MS,” a locally developed flood damage reduction plan designed to provide a permanent solution to Pearl River flooding, which continues to pose an imminent threat to the Jackson Metropolitan Area.
• Dredging shallow draft ports located on the Mississippi River, such as Natchez, Rosedale, Greenville, Claiborne County and Vicksburg.
• Authorizing the Army Corps to conduct regional assessments of coastal vulnerabilities and opportunities to increase ocean and coastal ecosystem resilience, which could include shoreline and tidal marsh restoration.
• Increasing the funding authorization for needed environmental infrastructure projects, such as an ongoing regional wastewater improvement project in DeSoto County.
• Creating a Gulf Coast Oyster Bed Recovery Plan to address long-term damage to oyster beds caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and floods in 2011 and 2016.
• Providing technical assistance for small communities who often lack the resources to comply with and complete the necessary applications to access federal wastewater funding programs.