On Wednesday, June 6th, the U.S. House of Representatives cleared the House version of the Water Resources Development Act of 2018, H.R. 8, (WRDA . The bill authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineering (Corps) programs and projects. Unlike the Senate version of WRDA which includes a variety of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater provisions, the House version is a “clean” bill with only Corps provisions.
Despite efforts by a number of Congress members to add non-Corps policies to the House bill through proposed amendments, when the bill went to the House floor only specific Corps related amendments were permitted. One of the amendments that was allowed for debate, and passed by voice vote, was an amendment by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) that directs the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the Corps’ ability to comply with Federal stormwater runoff requirements. The intent of the study is for Congress to find out how well the Corps is meeting "the requirement to restore the predevelopment hydrology of properties under the ‘‘maximum extent technically feasible’’ standard created under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.” Since the Corps is responsible for large areas of the country that are U.S. military properties, such as bases and airfields that are exempt from the Clean Water Act, Congress wants to know how well and to what extent the Corps is managing environmental standards for stormwater runoff control established in the EISA. Rep. Heck’s congressional district includes McCord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis Army Base. While this proposal was not one that WEF was advocating for, Rep. Heck’s office obtained technical consultation from WEF during the drafting of the amendment.
Other amendments that WEF worked with Rep. Heck’s office to propose, but were not permitted, included a version of H.R. 3906, the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act, and the establishment of a Federal interagency task force to study and propose recommendations to Congress on how to increase federal funding for stormwater infrastructure. The Senate WRDA bill includes the stormwater funding task force. The Senate is expected to consider their WRDA bill on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, and once it’s passed, the House and Senate will meet in conference committee to negotiate the final legislation.