WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), introduced America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The legislation supports our nation’s economic competitiveness by increasing water storage, expanding local stakeholder input in Army Corps projects, providing protection from dangerous floodwaters, deepening nationally significant ports, and maintaining the navigability of inland waterways across the country. The legislation includes several key provisions for Wyoming. 

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will make communities safer and grow our economy by improving the nation’s water infrastructure,” said Barrasso. “President Trump has made addressing the nation’s aging dams, levees, water systems, and ports a top priority. This bipartisan legislation answers the president’s call. Projects included in the bill would make a positive impact in Wyoming by increasing water storage; protecting communities from dangerous ice jam floods; and by upgrading old water systems. Let’s use this opportunity to pass major water infrastructure legislation that will help keep our nation prosperous.”

Wyoming Provisions in America’s Water Infrastructure Act would:

  • Approve the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County, Wyoming;
  • Require the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Army to work together on regional sediment management plans and prioritizes funds for reservoir sediment management activities within the Missouri River basin. This will restore the active water storage capacity of these resources. These would include BOR reservoirs in Wyoming and the Upper Missouri River Basin;
  • Authorize a Snake River Basin Flood Prevention Action Plan to protect Wyoming communities in the Snake River Basin. Under the bill, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), and the BOR will develop an action plan for each state or portion of state within the Snake River Basin. Such plans will focus on the areas most likely to experience flooding in the next two years and include steps to manage and reduce flood risks within the Snake River Basin. The plan should include what steps the two agencies will take to improve coordination with local stakeholders to help manage and reduce flood risks in the areas most likely to experience flooding in the next two years;
  • Make permanent the pilot program established under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for ice jam prevention and mitigation and doubles the number of pilot projects;
  • Extend the Indian Irrigation Fund through fiscal year 2028. This fund was created in the WIIN Act and is used for maintenance, repair, and replacement activities of Indian irrigation projects, including the irrigation project on the Wind River Indian Reservation;
  • Help provide clean water and properly treated wastewater for communities by establishing a pilot program to improve existing drinking water lines, towers, or wastewater lagoons for tribal communities, like the Wind River Indian Reservation, in the Upper Missouri River Basin;
  • Authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to provide grants to small and medium water systems that serve up to 75,000 individuals for training and technical assistance;
  • Extend until 2028 the program to address the deferred maintenance needs of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) dams. Barrasso introduced the Dam Repairs and Improvements for Tribes Act (DRIFT Act) in 2016 and secured its inclusion as a provision in the WIIN Act. This program would include dams such as those on the Wind River Indian Reservation;
  • Increase funding for certain Continuing Authorities Programs (CAP). The CAP program covers projects for flood damage reduction to alleviate ice jams such as those in Worland and Greybull, WY. The Act also prioritizes funding for ecosystem restoration projects in the Upper Missouri River Basin;
  • Authorize $30 million for more inspection stations in the Upper Missouri River Basin to prevent invasive species such as zebra or quagga mussels from getting into reservoirs and waterways in states like Wyoming;
  • Create an appeals process where states and localities that need their proposed water storage projects approved by their Army Corps district, can appeal a denial of the purpose and need of the project to a new review board that has representatives of state water agencies and the Army Corps. The new water storage appeals board can recommend that that the decision at the Army Corps district level to deny the water storage project based on a disagreement over the purpose and need of the project be overturned. The district must then reconsider their decision;
  • Prioritize funding for ecosystem restoration projects that modify existing Army Corps levees in the Upper Missouri River Basin. This could benefit cities like Sheridan, WY, which are working with the Army Corps to do ecosystem restoration on the Little Goose Creek and Big Goose Creek;
  • Establish a ten-year pilot program to expedite the review of applications for permits to expand small city (80,000 people or less) reservoirs to increase water storage and supply if the city water supplies have been polluted from legacy Department of Defense (DOD) activities where mitigation is occurring. This would benefit cities like Cheyenne, WY that have ongoing cleanup activities with the Corps to address DOD legacy pollution and have projected water supply needs; and
  • Prioritize funds for flood and drought monitoring in the Upper Missouri River Basin.

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
  • Create a new framework to allow for more Corps projects to be budgeted at the regional and local level, with local stakeholder input, as opposed to just at the national level;
  • Authorize or reauthorize important water infrastructure programs and projects that benefit the entire country; and
  • Address significant water infrastructure needs in tribal communities.   

Read the text of the bill here.

Read the section-by-section of the bill here.

Read a comprehensive summary the bill here.