Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say a few words as we begin this hearing.
It has been more than four years since passage of the last Water Resources Development Act. Since that time, the water resources needs of the Nation have continued to change. In fact, it is expected that Water will become one of the leading economic drivers of the 21st Century. As such, we must ensure that we are postured to focus on developing environmentally sustainable projects that incorporate the “grass roots” values and interests of regions and local communities.
The severe droughts of recent have reminded us that we cannot take our water resources for granted. The stakes are high in terms of our environment and our economy. History also teaches that we can no longer manage water for single purposes. We must manage water to integrate all its uses in an environmentally sustainable way. Many States and regions of the Nation have already begun the process of developing comprehensive water plans to meet the long term water resources requirements needed to continue the economic and environmental sustainability of our Nation’s water infrastructure. In my home State of Texas alone, the State and local communities have identified almost $18 billion of capital needs to ensure adequate water resources are available for Texans to meet the projected 50-year needs required to maintain the economic viability of the state. The enormity of this problem is not limited to Texas, and cannot be ignored at any level of government.
Mr. Chairman, I have received written statements from water interests including Mr. Rod Pittman, Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, and Mayor Bob Young of Augusta, Georgia. These statements point strongly to the Federal role in providing technical assistance, data, and analysis to support our state and local governments in managing water resources. Mr. Chairman I ask consent that these statements be entered with my statement in the record.
These statements affirm what I have been talking about: that the Corps of Engineers is uniquely positioned to support State and local government leadership for integrated management and development of the Nation’s water resources. I would like to quote from the statement of the Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, Mr. Rod Pittman. He says, “Recently, Board staff has been working more closely with the Corps, and the benefits from this enhanced relationship confirms that the payoff for even more collaboration is considerable.” His testimony is evidence that Corps partnerships with state and local governments can and will work well to strengthen management of water resources.
The Corps of Engineers must have the tools to enable them to work closer with local and State partners to identify water needs and strategies for meeting these needs across the Nation. We should give the Corps a primary mission in supporting state and local leadership of integrated water management. By sharing data and water analysis among the Federal, state, and local sectors, we can improve water management in this country and save money at all levels of government. Enactment of WRDA can make this happen.
I would also like to acknowledge the important role WRDA plays on the traditional missions of the Corps. The Corps is an invaluable part of efforts throughout the county to address the ravages of coastal erosion and flooding. They are also vitally important to keeping our national economic engine running with the construction and maintenance of our navigable waterways. I look forward to working with the Committee in moving WRDA forward and setting the stage for the future of water resources management in Texas and the nation.