Obama signs bill boosting Corps of Engineers support for recreational boating

WASHINGTON, DC. (LOG NEWS SEVICE) — President Barack Obama signed bipartisan water resources legislation June 10 that includes provisions requiring the Federal government to do more to help small harbors, address longstanding dredging issues, and improve boating and navigation infrastructure.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa), the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation — the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) — authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its mission to develop, maintain and support the Nation’s vital ports and waterways infrastructure needs and support effective targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.

Shuster said H.R. 3080, the WRRDA, cuts red tape, reforms the bureaucracy and accelerates the delivery of water resources infrastructure projects.
In a release the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) said it applauds the passage of the legislation.

“Maintenance dredging for small harbors and shallow-draft channels has been chronically underfunded,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Coordinator David Kennedy. “In addition, funding for infrastructure such as jetties and some inland navigation locks has been significantly curtailed.

“The 2013 WRRDA directs the US Army Corps of Engineers to consider factors beyond total tonnage shipped in making dredging funding decisions, requires that not less than 10 percent of the value of operation and maintenance funds be directed to ‘Emerging Harbors’ or those that have less than one million tons of cargo shipped annually, and directs the Army Corps to report to Congress on the maintenance needs of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.”

Kennedy said the legislation treats the Great Lakes as one single comprehensive navigation system, potentially allowing funding for dredging of smaller harbors. In addition, the Corps of Engineers is directed to study potential new revenue sources for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and is required to consult recreational users, among other stakeholders.

“From small West Coast ports to Great Lakes harbors of refuge, inland locks, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, boat owners depend on federal waterway infrastructure projects to keep them safe and provide authorized waterways deep enough for us to navigate. With 12 million registered boats in the US and over 80 million persons participating in boating, we also need to remember that boating generates $121 billion in US economic activity and over 950,000 jobs,” Kennedy said.

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