December 2016

 

Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act Becomes Law

 

President Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act on December 20. The Act incorporated the previous Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and other water-related provisions.

Several provisions of interest to NACE members include:

Army Corps Projects

The law authorizes 30 new Corps projects, including Los Angeles River restoration efforts, flood risk management, ecosystem restoration and hurricane and storm damage risk reductions, while creating programming changes to the Corps project delivery process. Specifically, the bill authorizes the Corps to provide technical assistance to non-federal project sponsors (such as a county) developing its own feasibility study.

Funding for Harbor Maintenance Programs

WIIN ensures that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) remains solvent so that the nation’s ports, harbors and waterways receive the resources to ensure the unhindered passage of commerce. The HMTF collects a user fee levied on the value of imported goods. The collected fees are intended to support the operations and maintenance funding needed for the deep draft and coastal waterways. Historically, HMTF collections have far exceeded funds appropriated for harbor maintenance, resulting in a large and growing surplus of more than $9 billion.

Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA)

The law authorizes $20 million for the WIFIA program and expands the scope of allowable projects to include lead and other contaminates.

Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams

For non-federal dams that are classified as high hazard by state dam programs, the measure instructs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a program to provide technical, planning, design and construction assistance in the form of grants to non-federal sponsors for the rehabilitation of eligible high hazard dams. Eligible means the dam fails to meet minimum dam safety standards and poses an unacceptable risk to the public. This does not include licensed hydroelectric dams or dams built under U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.

Beneficial Use of Dredged Material

The Corps is authorized to establish a pilot program to carry out 10 projects nationally for the beneficial use of dredged material. The Corps is instructed to work closely with relevant state agencies to select a variety of projects that show diversity and economic and social benefits and reduce storm damage, promote public safety, protect ecosystems and habitats, foster recreation and focus on risk management adaptation strategies.


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