Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer
Full Committee Hearing: "Water Resources Development Act: Growing the Economy and Protecting Public Safety"
September 20, 2012

Today's hearing will look at how the Water Resources Development Act - known as WRDA -supports critical infrastructure nation-wide that promotes economic growth and protects public safety. WRDA authorizes the projects and programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and provides many benefits to American families and businesses - including maintaining navigation routes for commerce and reducing the risk of flooding.

Later this year, I hope to move forward with a Water Resources Development Act. I have already been working closely with Sen. Inhofe and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance a bill.

As we will hear from our witnesses today, water resources legislation can boost the economy, create jobs, and help protect lives and property in communities across the country.

U.S. ports and waterways, many of which are maintained by the Corps of Engineers, moved 2.3 billion tons of goods in fiscal year 2011. And Corps flood risk management projects are estimated to have prevented $28.1 billion in damages in 2010. The Water Resources Development Act and the projects, policies, and programs it authorizes are essential components of creating jobs and keeping our economy growing.

In my home state of California, we are facing some of the nation's most critical water resources challenges. Many communities rely on the projects and programs authorized by WRDA.

Our ports are some of the busiest in the world. Continued maintenance of port facilities is critical for the commerce and jobs that rely on these economic hubs.

California also faces significant flood risk. There are a number of critical flood protection projects across the state that are necessary to protect life and property.

For example, the levees around the Natomas basin in Sacramento require significant improvements to reduce flood risk for the tens of thousands of Californians they protect. According to the Corps, these levees also protect over $7 billion in property and critical Federal, state, and local infrastructure. And the project to rebuild the Natomas levees can move forward as soon as we pass water resources legislation.

I would like to enter letters into the record from the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency and Representative Doris Matsui supporting efforts to pass a WRDA bill and to authorize the Natomas levee improvements.

Like Natomas, there are many more life-saving projects around the country that are ready to be built following the passage of a Water Resources Development Act. That is why I believe we must move quickly on the next WRDA bill.

Working together with Senator Inhofe and other members of this Committee, I'm hopeful we can repeat our recent success on MAP-21.

I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their interest in this issue and for their participation in this hearing today. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how a Water Resources Development Act can ensure progress on important projects and programs that create jobs, support commerce, and protect public safety.