U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin spoke on the Senate floor to urge passage of the
Water Resources Development Act
(WRDA), the $13 billion bill that affects most of the Army Corps of Engineers' water projects across the country. The Senator praised the bill for “taking the federal government's participation to a new level” in its support for sewage treatment efforts and for its commitment to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
“The Chesapeake Bay is our nation's largest estuary and it's critically important that we preserve and protect it. This legislation is groundbreaking because it strengthens the federal government's commitment to saving the Bay for future generations,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The WRDA authorization will include approximately $300 million for Maryland projects, including:
- $30 million to significantly reduce nitrogen flowing from the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant into the Bay. Blue Plains is the largest tertiary sewage treatment facility in the world, servicing the entire Washington metropolitan area, including Prince George's and Montgomery counties. It also provides $40 million for other projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed;
- $192 million for expansion of the Bay's Poplar Island project, which involves rebuilding the Island with dredged material from the channels serving the Port of Baltimore;
- $9.4 million for restoration of Smith Island by constructing two miles of off-shore breakwaters that will protect more than 2,100 acres of wetlands and underwater grasses;
- More than a $6 million increase in funding for the Cumberland flood mitigation project, which will directly assist future efforts to re-water the C&O Canal;
- A $30 million increase in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers' oyster restoration effort; and,
- $20 million for the Chesapeake Bay Environmental and Protection Programs.
“In addition to all it does for Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, I am especially pleased to support this bill because it contains all the critical Corps reform amendments that the Senate considered last year. Peer review, transparency, and a requirement that every construction project be subject to a cost-benefits test are all critically important reforms, and all are included in this bill,” Senator Cardin added.