Water issues are becoming increasingly challenging for federal and state governments. Water collection and storage, floods and droughts, inland waterways, the operation and safety of dams and levees, and lots of other issues pose threats, challenges, and opportunities for the United States. Here’s a roll-up of recent Senate commentary on these issues and more…
Senator Shelby (R-AL):
• Discusses possibly deepening Mobile Harbor to allow more return from the investment. By deepening the harbor, it is more available for larger boats thus generating more revenue.
Senator Carper (D-DEL):
• More than 99% of U.S. overseas trade volume moves through coastal channels that the Army Corps of Engineers maintain.
• These channels connect to inland waterways that not only connect ports but form a water highway. This is crucial for the freight network and the U.S. Military.
• Funding for new construction has faded slowly for the Corps and with that the maintenance of existing infrastructure has slowed.
• Estimations but backlogged infrastructure work at a worth of $96 billion.
• In port infrastructure alone, the U.S. needs over $65 billion in investment for stable economic growth and a nurturing environment for jobs.
• The American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure reports that $162 billion is needed to properly improve dams, levees and inland waterways.
• The annual budget only allocates $4.6 billion to the issues.
Senator Ernst (R-IA):
• Human Safety Exception gives the Corps discretion to fund five projects annually. In 2017, four of five were in California. Steps need to be taken to allocate funds to other states or areas dealing with flood or drought issues.
Senator Wicker (R-MS):
• The invested $14 billion in the Mississippi River and Tributaries is estimated to have a 54:1 cost benefit ratio. This means that the invested money has prevented $800 billion in damages.
Senator Whitehouse (D-RI):
• With projected sea levels rising, Rhode Island, particularly Providence, is concerned with FEMA projections and time before walling off the city from heightened storms is needed.
• The Corps budget in 2018 allocated $1.32 billion for inland projects and $46 million to coastal projects. A 30:1 ratio favoring inland projects.
Senator Barrasso (R-WY):
• Addresses issues concerning western states ability to store water in reservoirs due to sediment build up.
General Semonite (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers):
• Puerto Rico has 80% of it the power load restored. During the restoration, 62,000 power poles and 3,100 miles of cable were brought it.