Every two years, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) comes before Congress and provides an avenue for authorizing projects that pertain to water. Many of these projects are undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers, such as dams and dredging projects, but oftentimes WRDA contains provisions from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that pertain to water and storms.
This year, the Senate version of the WRDA bill includes many encouraging provisions that we believe our members may find helpful if passed into law. One such provision requires the study and consideration of green infrastructure when the federal government evaluates a flood, storm or hurricane protection project. This would require natural-based solutions to be considered in conjunction with other flood and hazard mitigation projects, and would be a big boost to green infrastructure. We are excited about a future that might include the Army Corps of Engineers working with local park and recreation departments to create and maintain nature-based solutions.
While we are excited about the provisions introduced by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, much work needs to be done. The full Senate needs to consider these provisions. Across the Capitol on the House side, the bill doesn’t look as favorable on green infrastructure. The House has decided to exclude any provisions outside of the scope of the Army Corps of Engineers, so it excludes provisions encouraging the use of green infrastructure. NRPA will work over the summer to encourage passage of the Senate version and ask the House and Senate to include green infrastructure in their final package. A group of green infrastructure advocates convened by NRPA have joined together in writing a letter to the Senate asking them to pass their version and insist on the green infrastructure provisions in the final bill.
Kyle Simpson is NRPA's Senior Government Affairs Manager.