USA - America Needs a Fair and Forward-Thinking Water Bill
In the aftermath of a bitterly contested election, House and Senate negotiators are finalizing the details of the Water Resources Development Act with an eye towards passage in the lame duck.
If they incorporate the best of each chamber’s proposals, the final would do much to mitigate the risks of a warming world while addressing the flooding and water quality challenges facing frontline communities.
As sea levels rise and rainfall becomes more intense, flood control projects that incorporate wetlands, beaches and other natural features are one of the best ways to protect communities from inland flooding and coastal storms. For example, a 2018 study found that coastal wetland and oyster reef restoration can yield $7 in flood reduction benefits for every $1 spent. Natural infrastructure projects like these also often benefit quality of life by creating new recreational opportunities, protecting habitat for wildlife and improving water quality.
Both chambers’ bills contained important provisions that would level the playing field for these types of natural solutions, including by clarifying that the non-federal cost share is the same as for other, similar projects. The House bill — which passed unanimously — took additional steps to prepare the nation for extreme weather. For example, it created a mechanism for ensuring that the Army Corps of Engineers gives nature-based solutions a fair look as part of any feasibility study for new flood projects and requires the agency to incorporate the most current sea level rise projections into future coastal investments.