Esty Votes to Create Jobs, Boost Investments in Water Infrastructure as WRDA Bill Clears House Floor
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted last night to pass H.R. 8, the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, by a vote of 408-2. The bill also included a new amendment, introduced by Esty, that will direct the National Academy of Sciences to study how the Army Corps of Engineers currently calculates the benefits of potential Corps projects, and what they can do to improve that calculation so that more worthwhile projects are approved.
“Connecticut cities have been ravaged by floods over the years, with the loss of lives as well as the loss of millions of dollars of property. The Army Corps of Engineers has an important role to play in safeguarding our communities from these risks. That’s why cities like Meriden and Torrington have sought assistance from the Corps to help fund flood mitigation efforts,” said Esty.
“The bill we passed today includes important changes, like my amendment to determine whether the Corps can and does consider the benefit of a larger project when assessing the cost-benefit of federal support for a portion of a larger project—an issue vital to Meriden. Another of my amendments examines the impact of changing regional leadership so often—an issue of importance to Torrington and to communities across the country.
“As the Vice Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am pleased that we are working together across party lines to help protect Americans from flooding and to ensure the safe and effective operations of our ports and waterways.”
Esty was prompted to introduce this amendment after a cost-benefit analysis issue derailed a project in the City of Meriden. In 2012, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued permits to Meriden to carry out a Master Plan for the Harbor Brook Flood Control and Linear Trail Project. In March 2017, Meriden officials and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England reviewed the draft project management plan, and issued a draft budget for a potential study area within the Harbor Brook Flood Control and Linear Trail project in order to carry out a flood control study.
The City of Meriden proposed an alternative study area as a way to cut down costs. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, they could not justify implementation of this alternative area and concluded that it had high implementation costs and limited benefits. In the end, the Army Corps of Engineers closed out of this study. Esty’s amendment would study whether or not the Army Corps of Engineers calculates the total benefits of a project and considers those costs when evaluating the cost-benefit of smaller, sub-project of that larger project.
The Water Resources and Development Act of 2018, which Congress advances every two years, will provide the necessary funding for improvements to improve American ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, and ecosystem restoration. Three of Esty’s amendments were previously added to the text of the bill prior to arrival on the House floor.