WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), praised the Senate’s passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA). The legislation was included in the omnibus. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 91 to 7. The bill will now go to President Trump to be signed into law.
As chairman of the EPW Committee, Barrasso was the lead Senate author of the bill, which includes important Wyoming water infrastructure priorities.
“Congress has passed bipartisan water infrastructure legislation that will help communities in Wyoming. Dams, reservoirs, irrigation systems, and levees are critical to the people of our state,” said Barrasso. “The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 will increase water storage for our ranchers and farmers. We must make sure Wyoming’s water infrastructure systems are reliable and ready in case of floods. This bill will help maintain aging irrigation systems and levees that keep communities safe. It will also help combat invasive species that damage our water reservoirs and limit water supply. This legislation will make communities safer and will help create jobs and grow Wyoming’s economy. President Trump should sign this important legislation as soon as possible.”
Wyoming Provisions in Water Resources Development Act of 2020 will:
Increase water storage for Wyoming’s ranchers and farmers
- Establish a new Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) program for the construction of new small water storage projects or the expansion of existing water storage projects in Wyoming.
- Authorize forecast-informed reservoir operations, which use enhanced monitoring and improved weather and water forecasts, to inform decision making to selectively retain or release water from reservoirs. This makes water supply more reliable and reduces flood risks.
- Increase water storage capacity by improving the Army Corps’ ability to carry out sediment removal activities at Wyoming reservoirs.
- Provide equal priority for water supply and water conservation under the Army Corps’ Planning Assistance to States Program (PAS).
- Commission a study and report by the National Academy of Sciences on how to improve water management and coordination between state, federal, and local entities.
Strengthen the reliability of Wyoming’s aging water infrastructure
- Authorizes enhanced Army Corps inspections of aging federal water resources, water storage, and irrigation projects using current and innovative technologies. These inspections will help prevent future irrigation tunnel collapses like the one that happened with the Fort Laramie irrigation tunnel.
Improve Wyoming’s ability to build and maintain effective flood-risk management infrastructure
- Expedite permit applications needed to complete repairs, reconstruction and upgrades to flood control infrastructure damaged by flooding caused by ice jams between 2017 and 2020.
- Accelerate Army Corps maintenance and repair activities to levee systems in Teton County.
- Improve Army Corps communication and notification systems that are used to notify the public of potential flood risks.
Restore Wyoming’s degraded aquatic ecosystems
- Fast track the Crow Creek Revival ecosystem restoration project (Cheyenne) and the Sheridan ecosystem restoration project (Sheridan).
Prevent, manage, and eradicate invasive species that reduce and degrade Wyoming water resources and infrastructure, as well as combat harmful algal blooms in the state.
- Increase the quality and quantity of water available for Wyoming ranchers and farmers by allowing the Army Corps to partner with states and federal agencies to combat invasive species, like Russian olive and saltcedar.
- Facilitate activities to reduce harmful algal blooms at Federal reservoirs across Wyoming. Such algal blooms are a threat to public health and safety.