Huffman Votes for Critical Water Infrastructure Bill

May 20, 2014

WASHINGTON­—Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) voted for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), a water infrastructure bill that makes critical investments on the North Coast, including along the Russian River. H.R. 3080 is a bipartisan conference report produced by House-Senate negotiations that authorizes Army Corps of Engineers funding for improvements to ports, waterways, and projects tied to flood protection, drinking water, dams and levees, and environmental restoration.

“This legislation is major step forward for water infrastructure throughout the country, including communities throughout my North Coast district that will benefit from better flood protection, harbor improvements and dredging, and environmental restoration on the Russian River that protects water supplies,” Congressman Huffman said. “I’m glad the House and Senate came together and improved on earlier versions of this bill. This is the sort of bipartisan compromise we need more of—a demonstration that Congress is still capable of responding to our infrastructure needs by authorizing critical investments.”

H.R. 3080 allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue working with the Sonoma County Water Agency to enhance six miles of endangered coho salmon habitat along Dry Creek, located between Warm Springs Dam and the Russian River near Healdsburg. The work is required under the Russian River Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2008 to protect coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout; all listed as endangered or threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

The bill moves towards ensuring that California receives its fair share of funding for water infrastructure projects, although it does not finally resolve the state’s funding inequity. It also dedicates more resources from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to addressing the needs of small ports and harbors.

The bill also instructs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess and update operations at their dams to improve water supply capabilities, a step towards what Congressman Huffman’s FORECAST Act would accomplish.

Huffman fought against several national environmental policy rollbacks contained in the original bill that were ultimately removed or amended in the conference report. The House bill would have:

  • Allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to bypass environmental and public review processes and would have unreasonably limited input and environmental review from other agencies, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Delayed the National Ocean Policy, a program that improves coordination between the 27 federal agencies and departments that impact and manage our oceans. This provision was stripped from the conference report.