WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), lauded Thursday’s overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 that advances long-overdue reforms and support to our nation’s drinking water systems. “Comprehensive water infrastructure reform has been a long time coming and I am exceedingly proud of what we have been able to accomplish in this bill,” Senator Cardin said. “WRDA provides new federal tools to address many of the issues faced as our water infrastructure crumbles due to age and growing demands.
“Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink and that Congress will do everything within its power to ensure that happens. Every community in America — urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods — will be helped by the provisions we’ve been able to include in this bipartisan bill,” Senator Cardin added. “Long before Flint was seared into the national consciousness, I have been fighting year after year to upgrade our hidden water infrastructure. New federal investment of $300 million over five years in grant funding for the replacement of lead service pipes, testing, planning, corrosion control and education, and $100 million for school and child care lead testing, serve as a down payment on what is needed in Baltimore and across our country to get lead and other contaminants out of our water supply and away from our children.”
The WRDA bill, passed by the Senate and headed to the House of Representatives for action, includes language first introduced in 2009 by then-Chairman of the EPW Water and Wildlife Subcommittee Cardin, from S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act. In addition to other Cardin-authored bills, WRDA includes much of the S. 2821, the TRUE LEADership Act (Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016), a comprehensive effort introduced earlier this April by Senator Cardin, and cosponsored by 30 of his colleagues, which recommits the federal government to a critical role in water infrastructure investment, lead remediation and the strong drinking water protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rural systems also will benefit from the inclusion of the Water Supply Cost Savings Act (S. 1642), first introduced by Senator Cardin with Senator John Boozman in 2015, which removes some of the technical and financial barriers to clean water that rural communities face while improving quality of life.”
“At its core, WRDA provides for the conservation and development of water resources, and authorizes the Secretary of the Army to construct projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States. For the health of the Chesapeake Bay, I fought hard to ensure that Title IV of WRDA, which includes provisions related to specific river basins, watersheds and coastal areas, increases the authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Chesapeake Bay Oyster Recovery Program in Maryland and Virginia from $60 million to $100 million. The health of Maryland’s oyster population is critical to the Chesapeake Bay and our natural environment,” said Senator Cardin.
“WRDA also makes important investments in Maryland through investments in coastal ports like the Port of Baltimore, which rely on inland navigation systems for the movement of raw and finished goods throughout the U.S. and overseas. These systems are necessary to ensure U.S. economic competitiveness in the global economy. The environmental restoration projects authorized by WRDA also are necessary to protect shoreline communities like Smith Island and Ocean City, Maryland, from climate change-driven rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, and storm surges.”