Today, we will hear testimony from Administration officials and witnesses from around the country on the Army Corps of Engineers water resources programs. Starting with the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, this Committee has considered legislation to authorize Corps projects in the nation’s interest on a biennial schedule. Some years, we didn’t get a bill; some years, we did. This year, we have not yet received an Administration WRDA proposal. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that at the end of this Session of Congress, we will see a WRDA 2004 be enacted into law. No too much time remains this year, but I think we can do it.
Last week, members of my Committee staff traveled to Vermont where they were joined by military officers and civilians of the Corps’ North Atlantic Division, New York District, and New England District. In Bennington, Norwich, and Barre, my staff and the Corps personnel hosted roundtable workshops with state and local officials, conservationists, and other interested Vermonters to talk over how to make the Corps processes more tangible for smaller cities and towns. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brigadier General Bo Temple, Colonel John O’Dowd, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Green, Jan Rasgus, Joe Vietri, Bobby Byrne, Gene Brickman, and Paul Tumminello for making those workshops all outstanding successes.
Mr. Woodley and General Flowers, as you both already know, you’ve got a great team there.One participant at the Barre workshop joins us here this afternoon. Bill Howland is the Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and he will speak about the Corps mission of ecosystem restoration.
Ecosystem restoration is where Vermont’s needs and the Corps’ capabilities match best. The Basin Program is a best-case scenario for Corps participation, as I’m sure your testimony will tell us. Thanks, Bill, for making the trip down from Vermont.
Another project in Vermont that has seen some real progress thanks to the hard work of the Corps is the Waterbury dam. Unfortunately, troubling budget cuts for the Corps threaten the steps forward made in the past few years.
The civil works program of the Corps is critical; the President’s proposed budget will put the Corps in critical condition. I am committed to working to keep the Corps at adequate national funding levels to deal with the needed projects that will enhance and improve our country’s, and our communities’, water resources.
It’s important to listen to everybody concerning program changes and the needs of the Corps, and I think we have very distinguished panels to testify before this Committee today.