Ernst Helps Advance Major Water Infrastructure Legislation Benefiting Iowa

The bipartisan package includes several of the Iowa senator’s provisions, including efforts to provide more flood control resources to Iowa’s small and rural communities and to increase oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), today successfully helped advance a major bipartisan package supporting our nation’s water infrastructure. The two bipartisan bills—the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020—passed out of the EPW Committee and include several of the Iowa senator’s provisions, such as efforts to provide more flood control resources to Iowa’s small and rural communities and to increase oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“While we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re also working together to strengthen our water infrastructure, especially our flood control systems, in order to protect our communities and support commerce on our waterways. This bipartisan package is an important step in doing that,” said Senator Ernst. “As Iowans continue to recover from the 2018 and 2019 flooding, my provisions in this legislation will help ensure the Army Corps is spending your tax dollars wisely and taking the right steps to protect our state from future floods, especially our communities in Southwest Iowa and along the Missouri River.”

The Ernst-led provisions in the package include:

  • Upper and Lower Missouri River comprehensive flood protection studies
    • Requires the Corps to conduct comprehensive studies of both the Upper and Lower  sections of the Missouri River, and to use their findings to submit a report to Congress outlining one comprehensive strategy for addressing flood risk in areas affected by the 2019 Missouri River flooding.
  • Cost-share waiver for small flood control projects
    • Creates a cost-share waiver for small or disadvantaged communities, giving the Corps discretion to complete small flood control projects at 100% federal cost share for qualifying communities.
  • Reporting on over budget and behind schedule projects
    • Requires the Corps to submit a report to Congress listing all water resources projects that are either $100 million over budget or 5 years behind schedule.
  • Making temporary flood control structures permanent
    • Gives the Corps the authority to review whether temporary flood control structures it has constructed should be made permanent, and allows the local cost-share for making them permanent to be waived for communities that are small, financially disadvantaged, or at risk of recurring flooding.
  • Projects in small, disadvantaged, or rural areas
    • Gives the Corps authority to recommend funding a project that does not have national economic development benefits, provided that the project: (1) is in a small, disadvantaged, or rural area; (2) is necessary to protect long-term life-safety and economic viability; and (3) has regional or local benefits. Oftentimes, important projects in rural areas and small communities are deprioritized because they are not considered to have national economic benefits. 

Last week, Senator Ernst spoke with leaders from Mills County about flood mitigation and recovery efforts, including this important legislation. Recently, Senator Ernst welcomed the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) announced support for the M&P Missouri River Levee District of Glenwood, Iowa, to help folks in Mills County protect against future flood events.