May 22, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin Highlight Illinois Priorities Included in Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and Ranking Member on the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Senate Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) applauded the inclusion of several of their priorities that will help Illinois in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that passed the EPW committee today and now heads to Senate floor for final consideration. The legislation includes provisions that will empower regional Army Corps officials who better know their local communities to make decisions about Corps projects, enhance public participation in Corps decisions, increase urban flooding prevention and response, reinforce protections for the Great Lakes, and expand water infrastructure funding across Illinois and the nation.

“I’m proud to have worked to secure these provisions that will benefit our state’s economy, protect public health and create jobs through investments in water infrastructure. This legislation will help improve Army Corps programs, protect the Great Lakes and safeguard our environment,” said Duckworth. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to send it to the President’s desk.”

“This legislation is important to the commerce that moves on the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the Illinois River, and other Illinois waterways; to those communities and towns throughout our state that rely on the Army Corps of Engineers to protect them from flooding and other storm damage; and to the natural resources that our rivers, streams, and wetlands represent,” said Durbin.  “I am pleased that EPW was able to work in a bipartisan manner on this bill and I look forward to working to get this important legislation to the finish line.”

Today’s Committee-passed legislation includes the following Duckworth/Durbin priorities:

  • Improve U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects in Illinois by increasing transparency, enhancing effectiveness and reducing costs. This includes promoting district-level decision making, providing additional input opportunities for state, local and regional stakeholders, and modernizing USACE benefit-cost analysis to support the advancement of regionally significant projects like the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
  • Support efforts to combat urban flooding by studying USACE regulations to facilitate more active federal participation in urban flooding events. The bill also promotes local management best practices to help Illinois communities develop innovative solutions that address storm water runoff, prevent flooding, reduce groundwater depletion and mitigate water quality impairments.   
  • Extend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) pilot program through 2021 by $100 million annually to accelerates water infrastructure investment by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.
  • Protect the Great Lakes and our environment by increasing funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $30 million in FY19, $60 million in FY20 and $90 million in FY21. The legislation also authorizes the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study, which will be coordinated by the USACE, NOAA, USGS, FEMA, and EPA and lead to recommendations on how to best manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline. The bill also reinforces efforts to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species like Asian Carp.
  • Prioritize the completion of the McCook Reservoir project, which is a flood damage reduction project that is currently 91 percent complete. This project will provide $114 million in annual flood damage reduction benefits to five million residents of Chicago and 36 surrounding suburban communities.