WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA).
“The Senate’s passage of bipartisan legislation to address water infrastructure needs will increase access to funding for rural projects and streamline the permitting process to allow communities to better address flooding,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.
This bipartisan AWIA legislation makes important improvements to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program, which is responsible for flood control, navigation and other activities related to water resources and infrastructure. AWIA also addresses the ongoing need to improve and maintain our nation’s water infrastructure and authorizes projects that impact ports, mainland waterways, dams, irrigation systems and water storage that will help to ensure American goods are able to be efficiently shipped from coast-to-coast and around the globe.
Senator Ernst focused her efforts on making it easier for rural projects to secure federal funding, as well as key policy reforms, including:
- Reforming the Flawed Benefit-to-cost Ratio (BCR): BCR metrics disadvantage projects in states with low property values when they compete against projects in major cities or coastal areas for federal funding. Ernst has worked with her colleagues on the EPW Committee to develop a process designed to give small and rural communities better access to funding for Corps projects. Under the new process created by this legislation, the Corps will provide funding allocations to each Corps district based on stakeholder input, the local and regional significance of projects, and other criteria. Once this funding is allocated to the district level, only projects within that district can compete for it, and BCR guidelines will not apply.
- Monitoring Progress on the Cedar Rapids Flood Project: In July 2018, the City of Cedar Rapids received $117 million in federal funding for its flood control project. Senator Ernst’s provision requires the Army Corps to submit to Congress a report on the timeline for implementing the project within 90 days.