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Chairwoman Napolitano Secures New Federal Funds, Key Provisions for SoCal & Nation in Bipartisan Water Infrastructure Bill

July 29, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC)  Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) applauded unanimous House passage of H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, a critical water infrastructure and jobs bill for Southern California and the nation.

“Our bipartisan WRDA bill includes many important provisions that will help communities in Southern California and across the nation tackle the water challenges they face with water supply, flood prevention, and water quality,” Napolitano said. “I am very pleased it will dramatically increase funding to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for dredging, environmental cleanup, seismic retrofits, and berth maintenance, something for which I have fought for many years. Our legislation will create jobs while improving the long-term resiliency of our water projects and providing assistance to low-income and disadvantaged communities. I thank Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, and Ranking Member Westerman for their partnership in getting this bill introduced, through Committee, and now passed by the House, all with strong bipartisan support.”

H.R. 7575 authorizes $10 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carry out water resources development projects and studies, as well as policy direction to the Corps for implementation of its Civil Works missions.

As Chairwoman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee and the highest-ranking California member of the full Committee, Napolitano successfully included in the bill the following new funding and other key provisions:

  • Currently, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and 4 of the other largest ports in the nation receive only $25 million per year in federal assistance yet provide critical funding to smaller ports up and down the west coast and eastern seaboard; this bill increases the amount to $150 million annually to the largest ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach. Napolitano has long been a staunch proponent of ensuring LA County gets back more of its fair share and fought to secure this additional equity and funding for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
    • Expands the maintenance activities that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach can use this funding for to include harbor dredging, environmental cleanup, seismic retrofits, and berth maintenance. These items were specifically requested by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
    • This additional maintenance will improve operations at these ports which will allow more ships to call on Los Angeles and Long Beach and have a ripple effect on the Southern California economy. 1 out of every 9 jobs in Southern California is related to these ports, according to the Port of Los Angeles. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handle a combined 348 Million Metric Revenue Tons (MMRT) of products annually, including everyday items such as electronics, cars, commercial/residential equipment, and food.
  • Requires a comprehensive study on adding water supply to the primary mission areas of the Corps. Corps dams and projects were primarily built for flood control, but we in the West have been changing their individual operations to improve water supply for local communities. This provision will move the Corps to making water supply a primary responsibility to address water shortage issues felt by the whole country.
  • Addresses affordability and improved coordination with economically disadvantaged communities. Requires the Corps to provide flexibility in addressing water resource needs of low-income communities and communities of color. Provides technical assistance to these communities with resiliency planning. Requires the Corps to review its process for consultation with minority and tribal communities, and updates the Corps’ environmental justice considerations for Corps projects.
    • This could enable the Corps to work with the cities of Duarte, Azusa, and other communities to address homelessness at Santa Fe Dam.
    • The Corps must also work with local cities to mitigate any negative impacts of the Whittier Narrows Dam safety project.
  • Requires the Corps to use more nature-based construction and develop projects in a sustainable manner to reduce environmental impacts, improve long-term resiliency, and create additional benefits for local communities with recreation, improved water quality, and water supply.

Since being elected Subcommittee Chair in January 2019, Napolitano has worked diligently, always on a bipartisan basis, toward enactment of a biennial WRDA. Her Subcommittee held seven hearings and roundtables which offered Members, stakeholders, and the general public numerous opportunities to provide valuable testimony and input, which ultimately helped produce WRDA 2020:

  • On April 10, 2019, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment (Subcommittee) held a hearing entitled, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Investment in our Nation’s Waterways Matter.” The Subcommittee received testimony on the role that ports, harbors, and inland waterways play in our communities and their economies.
  • On July 10, 2019, the Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Implementation and Assessing Future Needs,” at which several witnesses discussed the Corps’ implementation of the congressionally authorized WRDAs. The hearing also began the process to inform the development of WRDA 2020.
  • On October 19, 2019, the Subcommittee held a roundtable in Islamorada, Florida. The purpose of this roundtable was to define the challenges states and communities face in rebuilding and to determine possible solutions to address America’s water infrastructure needs. Participants included representatives from several public and private stakeholder groups with an interest in water resources infrastructure.
  • On November 19, 2019, the Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act: Promoting Resiliency of our Nation’s Water Resources Infrastructure.” The Subcommittee received testimony related to the role of resiliency in the construction, and operation and maintenance of projects carried out by the Corps.
  • On January 9, 2020, the Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2020.”  This hearing provided Members with an opportunity to review these reports, review the process the Corps undertakes for developing its projects, and identify future needs to inform the development of WRDA 2020.
  • On February 27, 2020 the Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2020: Members’ Day Hearing.”  The purpose of this hearing was to provide Members of Congress with an opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on their priorities in relation to the Corps.
  • On March 6, 2020, the Subcommittee held a field roundtable in Baldwin Park, California in Napolitano’s district, for a policy discussion on “America’s Water Resources Infrastructure: Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act.” Participants included several local elected officials from the Los Angeles region, as well as local experts on regional water resources issues.

H.R. 7575 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The text of the bill can be viewed here.

A section-by-section of the bill can be viewed here.

A fact sheet of the bill can be viewed here.

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