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Chairwoman Napolitano's Statement at Hearing on Status of WRDA 2020 Implementation

March 23, 2021
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC)  House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing titled, “The Water Resources Development Act of 2020: Status of Essential Provisions.”

Good Morning.

Today, we will begin the Subcommittee’s oversight of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by discussing steps to implement the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.

The Corps is – simply put – the nation’s premier water resources agency. Congress has vested the Corps with significant responsibility to carry out vital projects for navigation, flood damage reduction, ecosystem restoration, water supply, and a host of other project purposes.

It is critical that the Corps prioritize immediate implementation of the critical policies enacted in WRDA to address the protection and well-being of our communities and environment, as well as to meet the maintenance needs of our water resources infrastructure – both of which are so critical to our national, regional, and local economies.

This Committee, on a bipartisan basis, has now successfully enacted four consecutive Water Resources Development Acts since 2014.

Regular enactment of WRDAs is critical because of the predictability it provides to local sponsors, who partner with the Corps for the development of feasibility studies for future water resources development projects.

At the same time, regular enactment of WRDAs also gives Congress the opportunity to provide regular oversight and direction to the Corps on how it should develop and implement these projects.

This Subcommittee has a unique interest in how the Corps implements WRDA laws. We want to know that the Corps implements the law as Congress intended, and ensure that the Corps remains responsive to national, regional, and local priorities and to a changing climate.

WRDA2020 demonstrated the strong, bipartisan support for increasing the resiliency of our infrastructure, and finally providing the Corps with the tools outlined over a decade ago to address new and increasing challenges to our water infrastructure in a way that improves our environment, addresses social inequities, and stimulates economic opportunity.

I am specifically interested in WRDA provisions we included that improve the National Dam Safety Program, the inclusion of nature-based alternatives, and the consideration of a community’s water supply needs as a primary mission area for the Corps. My district includes Corps dams built many years ago that need both safety improvements and revisions of their outdated water control manuals to more effectively help local communities with water supply.

I am also proud of policies in WRDA2020 that will engage more communities – especially minority and Tribal communities – in the Corps process and provide them with better access to these beneficial projects.

I hope that those provisions addressing environmental justice concerns, repetitive flooding, and affordability will be among the top priorities for Corps implementation.

I would also like to emphasize the importance of changes made in WRDA2020 that unlock additional funds for harbor maintenance needs around the country. My region includes the largest ports in the nation, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach.

I am glad to have Mr. Gene Seroka from the Port of Los Angeles here today to discuss the backlog of maintenance needs at our ports and harbors, and how WRDA 2020 will provide critical support in ensuring the viability and efficiency of our ports for decades to come.

I would like to thank our entire panel of stakeholders who are here today, who will help us to understand the impacts and importance of these policies once they are fully implemented.

As the Corps develops implementation guidance for the policy provisions included in WRDA2020, your perspectives and insight will be critical to prioritizing issues that will have the greatest benefit to our nation.