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 committee hearing titled “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges: Federal Panel.”

The hearing featured testimony from Ryan Fisher, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and acting assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works); and Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, chief of engineers and commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This was the second hearing the committee has held in the process of writing Water Resource Development Act reauthorization legislation.

For more information on their testimonies click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today, we are holding our second hearing in as many weeks highlighting the importance of water infrastructure and passing a new Water Resource Development Act, or ‘WRDA’, in 2018.

“WRDA is the bill that authorizes projects and funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program.

“Last week, this committee heard testimony from a variety of private sector stakeholders representing inland waterways, ports, rural areas, as well as those promoting ecosystem restoration projects.

“Their testimony provided further evidence that it is critical that Congress keep with the tradition of biennial WRDA consideration and passing such legislation this year.

“Today, we will hear from federal officials on how we can best address water infrastructure needs and challenges in any WRDA legislation.

“The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has oversight over much of the Corps’ mission in water infrastructure, including locks dams, flood migration, inland waterways, and ports. 

“This hearing provides us an opportunity to hear from the Corps on what they perceive are the best solutions to the needs and challenges facing important water infrastructure projects spread across the United States.

“As I said at last week’s hearing, unlike other contentious issues, historically, Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have been able to work together and pass WRDA legislation.

“I also noted last week that this legislation impacts every member of this committee’s diverse constituencies.

“To illustrate, Congress must prioritize the prevention of flooding and the modernization of our nation’s levees which protect people’s lives and their livelihoods.

“We cannot allow a repeat of the circumstances that led to the flooding of Worland, Wyoming, and the evacuation of 80 citizens when the Big Horn River flooded due to ice jams.

“We must also not lose sight of the western states’ water supply and consumption needs.

“My constituents in Wyoming, as well as others, are too familiar with the challenges associated with providing long-term water supply and storage.

“Let’s not forget that sediment buildup continues to decrease the storage capacity of our western reservoirs.

“An adequate and reliable water supply is necessary if western and rural communities and their economies are going to continue growing.

“The Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation should continue sharing related information, and work together, in the hopes of solving these water supply problems.

“To reiterate, we all have an important interest in maintaining the nation’s water infrastructure.

“Let us commit ourselves and our resources towards legislating a bipartisan WRDA bill in 2018.

“Too much is at risk for us to abdicate this responsibility of ensuring the publics’ safety, as well as ensuring the flow of goods, commodities, and raw materials through our inland waterways and ports.”