U.S. Ports Applaud Passage of 2007 Water Resources Bill
AAPA Says Critical Legislation Is ‘Long Overdue’
Representatives of public seaports in the United States today are lauding Congress for passing HR 1495, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, citing it as long overdue legislation that addresses a seven-year backlog of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs, including navigation projects, policies and procedures that are necessary to keep pace with today's burgeoning trade.
Late yesterday, the Senate approved by a vote of 81 to 12 a House-Senate conference report for the WRDA, which the House adopted Aug. 1 by a vote of 381-40.
"AAPA and our member ports have worked hard to get this crucial piece of legislation through Congress, and today we are extremely pleased that our efforts have been successful," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA's president and CEO. "America's ports depend upon a regular, biennial cycle of new project authorizations to improve federal navigation channels to accommodate the modern world fleet of deep-draft ships, but it's been seven years since the last WRDA bill was approved."
Although the WRDA legislation is supposed to be biennial, the last such bill was signed into law in 2000. In the intervening years, demand for critical water resources projects has accumulated, as have the costs to implement them.
Numerous projects and provisions in the WRDA 2007 bill will help address port waterside infrastructure needs. Included are projects for navigation channel deepening, dredged material disposal and storage facilities, and policy provisions to improve the Corps of Engineers project implementation process.
Policy provisions supported by AAPA include expanding the use of Corps dredges in the Pacific Northwest and providing for joint federal/local legal liability for project cooperation agreements, or PCAs.
"AAPA and our member U.S. ports salute Congress for hammering out a final bill this session, which we strongly urge the President to sign due to its urgency and importance," said Mr. Nagle. "This bill is vital to maintaining America's position as a dominant world trading partner and to keep our ports working as engines of the nation's economic growth."