Huffman Votes to Pass Bipartisan Water Resources Legislation, Celebrates Wins for Northern California

December 08, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, voted in favor of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, legislation that is critical to the Nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources infrastructure. WRDA 2020 will also create good paying jobs and strengthen economic growth and competitiveness in California’s Second Congressional District, and includes key North Coast and environmental priorities authored by Rep. Huffman. The bicameral agreement unanimously passed the House of Representatives, and now moves to the Senate for final approval.  

“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 the increasing threats of climate change,” said Rep. Huffman. “This legislation will create jobs while addressing the long-term resiliency of our water infrastructure and providing assistance to rural and disadvantaged communities, and I’m glad to be able to deliver so many of our North Coast priorities in the final 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.”

As an active member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Huffman has been a key player in the development of WRDA 2020, advocating for his district’s priorities during the initial WRDA committee hearing earlier this year, and collaborating with stakeholders at a California field roundtable on the legislation in early March.

The legislation included numerous provisions Rep. Huffman advocated for, including:

  • Increases the set-aside for smaller “emerging ports,” harbors that don’t have the same tonnage of traffic as larger commercial ports, from 10% of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to 15%. It also unlocks the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund with an additional $2 billion in annual funding for harbor maintenance needs. The increased funding and setaside will benefit smaller regional ports across the North Coast, such as Noyo Harbor and Humboldt.
  • Includes the completion of a feasibility study for a dam raise at Coyote Valley in the list of expedited priority studies and projects in the bill.
  • Authorizes $30 million for the Corps to assist financially in the ongoing water and boat inspection operations, including the mussel-sniffing dogs at Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino. 
  • Acknowledges climate change and responds to the threat of sea level rise by requiring the Corps to update existing planning guidance related to sea level rise based on the best available, peer-reviewed science. The bill also authorizes a study for both the oceanside and bay shorelines of San Francisco Bay counties to consider flooding and other problems from sea level rise, and the threats to both public and private infrastructure, as well as wildlife habitats. 
  • Ensures funding for aquatic ecosystem restoration for anadromous fish through fish bypass structures, tide gates, and restoring or reconnecting floodplains and wetlands.
  • Directs a study on how the Corps can better incorporate water supply and water conservation as a primary mission of the Corps. 

“Quagga and zebra mussels are a threat to our region’s water resources. Failure to prevent their introduction and proliferation in our reservoirs, such as Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino, could result in their infestation of our hydropower infrastructure, harm our Coho recovery hatchery, and require millions of dollars to repair the damages they cause.  Congressman Huffman recognized the significance of our needs, and reacted effectively in having the Russian River basin included in a national program that could bring the region millions of dollars a year to try and protect against the spread of quagga and zebra mussels in our waters.  We are just so gratified by his effective action on our behalf,” said Grant Davis, General Manager, Sonoma County Water Agency.

Congress has also successfully enacted three consecutive bipartisan WRDAs in 2014, 2016, and 2018. More information, including bill text, can be found here.