January 31, 2023

Senate makes waterways cost-share permanent

WASHINGTON — The Water Resources Development Act of 2022 was passed Dec. 15 in the Senate by a vote of 83-11 and was included as part of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act.

The bill passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 8 and now heads to President Biden for his signature into law.

WRDA 2022, which remains on a biennial schedule in Congress, authorizes 33 Chief’s Reports and includes a policy provision that makes permanent the 65% general revenues/35% Inland Waterways Trust Fund cost-share for lock and dam construction and major rehabilitation projects, a win for Waterways Council Inc. and its members, according to WCI.

65%/35% was established in WRDA 2020 as the cost-sharing formula that was set to expire in 2031, at which time the cost-share would return to the former formula of a 50%/50% split between the general fund and IWTF. The 65%/35% ratio would allow IWTF dollars to help finance more projects than under the 50%/50% cost-share.

In addition to removing the cost-share sunset provision, WRDA 2022 provided flexibility to manage the Houston Ship Channel Barge Lanes. Originally authorized at 12 feet, these barge lanes have presented navigation challenges for mariners on that part of the system. Through working with both committees and the Corps, WCI successfully included language in WRDA 2022 that will allow the Corps to dredge these channels to a depth deemed safe for navigation.

“Waterways Council Inc. thanks the House and Senate for passing WRDA 2022 and appreciates its continued support of the biennial process for this important legislation,” said Tracy Zea, WCI President and CEO.

“This final version comes months after negotiations to reconcile House- and Senate-passed versions, and WCI thanks the chairs and ranking members, as well as all committee members for their dedication to passing WRDA. The removal of the sunset provision is critical to the nation to ensure continued reliability of our inland waterways as a transportation conduit, moving products all Americans rely on.”

“Illinois Corn is delighted to hear this news. Illinois farmers export 50.9% of corn out of state. The increased federal investment in our waterways’ infrastructure is a huge gain for IL farmers. A special thanks to Sen. Tammy Duckworth for her leadership making the cost-share permanent,” the Illinois Corn Growers Association said in a statement.