LITTLE RIVER, 12/10/20 — On Tuesday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the 2020 Water Resources Development Act, a bill which will allocate funding to improve water infrastructure, restore marine ecosystems, and manage for flooding around the country. The bill approves $30 million to continue to protect Lake Mendocino from the invasive species Zebra Mussels.
“The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is essential to everyday American life,” wrote Democratic staff in a WRDA report. “Nearly 80 percent of traded goods that Americans rely on is moved [SIC] through our Nation’s ports, harbors, and inland waterways. Projects for flood damage reduction help protect both our rural and urban communities, thus benefiting millions of Americans. Ecosystem restoration projects restore and maintain our vital natural resources.”
The Water Resources Development Act is updated every two years, setting new priorities or reinstating old ones for projects related to flood management, sustainable water management, and infrastructure such as dams and harbors. A large majority of the funding goes to the US Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency, which works locally to do the on-the-ground work these projects require.
Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents the North Coast and has been working on the development of the bill for almost a year, said it will stimulate the economy and protect communities from climate change. “Making smart investments in water infrastructure and modernizing the Army Corps’ work at our ports, harbors, reservoirs, and waterways is necessary to stimulate the economy and protect communities from increasing the threats of climate change. This legislation will create jobs while addressing the long-term resiliency of our water infrastructure and providing assistance to rural and disadvantaged communities.”
The 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WDRA) will unlock $2 billion in additional funding for harbor maintenance around the country. Fifteen percent of that $2 billion will be allocated for small ports, such as Noyo Harbor, up from 10% allocated in the last (2018) WDRA bill.
“The investments and provisions outlined in WRDA 2020 will have monumental impacts to communities around the country, especially coastal economies like many in my northern California district in need of harbor maintenance and ecosystem restoration,” said Huffman.
One of the items in the bill would prioritize a study assessing the feasibility of raising Lake Mendocino’s Coyote Dam, and approves $30 million for the US Army Corps of Engineers to pay for resources to protect Lake Mendocino from invasive species, Zebra Mussels, among other things.
Although it passed in Congress with bipartisan support, it still needs to get through the senate. There is no timeline for when the senate will bring it to the floor, but representatives are hopeful that the senate will pass it soon. If and when it does pass, it could provide much needed resources for Mendocino’s ports to update and prepare for potential impacts of climate change around the North Coast and the country.