WASHINGTON DC – US Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) won billions of dollars in approval for new flood controls, ports, inland waterways, hurricane protection, coastal restoration and other infrastructure improvements for the Louisiana in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA). The WRDA will authorize water resources infrastructure projects and dictate how these investments are selected, prioritized and carried out. Louisiana alone accounts for 30% of the total US portfolio of infrastructure and water management projects in the United States – and one of the largest and most complex in the world.
Graves, as a member of the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has battled federal bureaucracy to break the deadlock on priority infrastructure projects that have stalled for decades.
The committee’s actions provided another opportunity for Graves to highlight the importance of Louisiana’s coast and water to America’s long-term economic competitiveness. Nearly two dozen amendments and other provisions of the legislation are the direct result of Graves’ conversations with local, state and federal officials after Hurricane Ida – as they were after Katrina, Gustav, Ike, Isaac and the August 2016 flood.
“Louisiana has some of the nation’s best strategic assets in the country. Our rivers, bayous, power sources, ports, coasts and other resources are the envy of America, but they can also be some of the most difficult to manage. Last year, one of the strongest hurricanes in history devastated communities in southern Louisiana. We can’t fix things by doing more of the same. We have included some key wins for our state in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 that will make us safer. This bill helps maximize Louisiana’s strengths while protecting our communities and families – and strengthens Louisiana’s leadership in maritime commerce,” Graves said.
“Water is the cornerstone of our country’s economy, public health and environment”, Congressman Troy Carter said. “In Louisiana, we also know that we must plan comprehensively to safely manage water in our communities. WRDA 2022 is the mechanism Congress uses to build a stronger, healthier water system for our nation. As we try to untangle our supply chains and deal with the threats of climate change, we cannot delay critical water management, port upgrades, environmental or security projects. am proud to have achieved significant bipartisan successes for Louisiana in this legislation alongside Congressman Graves, and I look forward to voting for its passage in the House.
Graves authored several provisions that were included in the legislation:
- Upper Barataria Project: Authorization of a $1.5 billion project to improve hurricane and flood protection, helping to protect the Upper Barataria Basin parishes of Lafourche, St. Charles, St. John, Assumption, St. James, Jefferson and Ascension. Final approval for this project, expected later this year, will immediately send $8 million to begin pre-construction engineering and design.
- Complete study on the lower Mississippi: Advances efforts to improve the functioning of the river, including flood protection, port performance, seafood production and the restoration of our coast. The current management regime, including the rigid 70/30 split at the old river control structure, is outdated and based on outdated science. This provision will result in the release of $5,000,000 in funding that Graves has already secured to carry out this important work.
- Hurricane protection and river levee improvements: $1.9 billion in authorized projects in the parishes of St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines – in partnership with Representatives Scalise and Carter. (section 401)
- Restoration of marshes to protect Port Fourchon (article 215) Partnership with Rep. Scalise
- Restoration of MRGO: The provision confirms that the project was to be entirely the responsibility of the federal government. (Graves-Carter Amendment #206)
Authorizes new investments to improve water supply and wastewater treatment systems through the Corps Environmental Infrastructure Program:
- Capital Region (East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston Parishes): Increases authorized funding to $90 million.
- Bayou Parishes (Parishes of Terrebonne, Lafourche, Saint-Charles, Assumption, Saint-James, Saint-Jean and Sainte-Marie): Increase project authority by $10 million.
- River parishes (St. John, St. James and Assumption Parishs): Increases authorized funding to $36 million.
- Aquifers Working Group: The Graves Amendment includes farmers and farmlands in efforts to help with aquifer recharge efforts to ensure irrigation and the sustainability of our farms and water sources. (Graves amendment in collaboration with Cong. Julia Letlow #208)
- Prioritization of dredged materials: Requires the Corps to prioritize coastal restoration when dredging sediment from our shipping channels in our coastal zone. (Huffman-Graves Amendment #64)
- Precision of the economic value of our ports: Improves the accuracy of data on the commercial value of ports, focusing on the value of commercial fishing and aquaculture. (Graves Amendment #195)
- Online license filing: Amendment which obliges the Corps to join the 21st century and create an online portal to file, update and track permit applications. (Graves Amendment #199)
- Rebuild stronger: Provision that will allow the Corps to rebuild flood protection projects to higher and stricter standards rather than allowing repetitive flood damage. (section 102)
- Coordination between FEMA and the Corps: improves information sharing on the National Dike Database (NLD). When flood protection projects are completed, it is essential that they are added to the NLD as soon as possible to ensure that flood insurance policyholders see their premiums lower, especially with the rise rates under the harmful Risk Rating 2.0 policy. (Graves Amendment #205)
- No negative impact of levee modifications: Amendment to ensure that potential modifications to the levee systems will increase flood resistance, reduce flood risk and benefit people living behind the levee system in areas at special risk of flooding. (Graves Amendment #204)
- Ensure appropriate land acquisition: The provision will require the Corps to require the lowest type of land acquisition to support Corps projects. Reduce costs and accelerate the completion of critical projects. (section 227)
- Extended Credit Transfer Authorization: Extends, for two years, the State’s ability to transfer the value of additional work performed on Corps projects to fulfill cost shares owed on other Corps projects. (section 330)
- Liability of the body for the subsidence of the dykes: Ensures the Corps continues to meet expectations to rehabilitate existing levees in Louisiana to ensure they provide the maximum flood protection. (section 330)
Graves also received approval to work on the key issues below before the bill goes to the House for consideration:
- Committee: Requirement for the Corps to complete the project within one year (Graves Amendment #9)
- Morganza: Honors our local corps for the work they have done on the project since 1989.
- Public lands for Corps projects: Requires the Corps to give a credit to the state when public land is acquired to support a Corps project (Graves Amendment #210)
- Loan repayment options: Supports additional opportunities for the state to reimburse the Corps for long-delayed protections after Hurricane Katrina. (Graves-Carter Amendment #200)