Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a legislative hearing on America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Barrasso joined committee ranking member Tom Carper (D-DE), Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce the legislation.

The hearing featured testimony from Pat Riley, advisory committee member at the Family Farm Alliance; Dennis Sternberg, executive director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association; Kristina Swallow, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers; The Honorable Jeffrey Bullock, secretary of state for the State of Delaware; and Tony Pratt, president of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

For more information on their testimonies click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“We are here to examine legislation titled: America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

“This is bipartisan legislation I introduced along with Committee Ranking Member Carper, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Inhofe, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Cardin.

“The Senate Committee  on Environment and Public Works has jurisdiction over much of our nation’s water infrastructure, including locks and dams, inland waterways, irrigation and water systems, and ports.

“These infrastructure systems are critical to keeping America prosperous and safe from dangerous floods and contaminated water sources.

“This bipartisan legislation is the result of significant work and negotiations among the members of our committee, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their efforts.

“Those discussions are ongoing.

“We plan to add a bipartisan manager’s amendment to the bill when we mark it up later this month to address a number of outstanding issues.

“Water infrastructure is important to every region, to every state, to every tribe, and to every community in America.

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act is going support our nation’s economic competitiveness by increasing water storage, by deepening nationally significant ports, by addressing aging irrigation systems, and by maintaining the navigability of inland waterways across the country.

“In my home state of Wyoming, and across the West, water storage capacity and supply are vital to local economies.

“Sediment build up behind dams severely limits water storage.

“Our bill is going to address this problem by directing the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps to develop sediment management plans for federal reservoirs.

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act would also expand our nation’s water storage capability by facilitating the permitting of additional reservoirs.

“For example, in Wyoming, the bill would approve the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County.

“Expanding water storage will give our farmers, ranchers, and communities a reliable supply of water in order to keep their livestock and their crops healthy.

“More water storage also provides an economic incentive for new businesses to grow and create jobs throughout the nation. 

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will also fix deteriorating irrigation systems that are vital for growing crops and raising live stock.

“The legislation isn’t just important for rural America.

“Dredging nationally significant ports, and maintaining our inland waterways will enhance our growing economy.

“Goods and raw materials need to move from the heartland to the coasts for export.

“The bill is designed to maintain these vital arteries of commerce.

“That’s good for big cities and rural communities alike.

“This legislation is also about health and safety.

“It includes provisions to repair old drinking water and waste water systems, protecting communities from contaminated water sources.

“The bill will make it easier for the Army Corps to take steps to keep communities safe from flooding.

“It will address maintenance needs of older dams and levees that protect communities from dangerous flood waters.

“Finally, this bill will create an addition to the benefit-cost-ratio framework.

“The addition will give local stakeholders a greater role in prioritizing Army Corps projects.

“Under this new provision, more projects are likely to be built in small, rural, and inland states.

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will authorize or reauthorize important water infrastructure programs and projects that benefit all 50 states.

“So I urge my colleagues to work with me in a bipartisan way to pass this important legislation, so we can create American jobs, and promote our nation’s prosperity, health, and safety.”

Background Information:

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 would:

  • Expand water storage capabilities;
  • Assist local communities in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act in upgrading aging drinking water, wastewater and irrigation systems;
  • Reduce flooding risks for rural, western, and coastal communities;
  • Ensure that America maintains the competitiveness of our coastal and inland ports, and maintain the navigability of our inland waterways; and
  • Give state and local governments and stakeholders an increased role in prioritizing which Army Corps projects get done;
  • Authorize or reauthorize important water infrastructure programs and projects that benefit the entire country; and
  • Address significant water infrastructure needs in tribal communities.