WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin worked to include a number of measures in the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to support American workers and businesses, invest in innovative water technology, protect the Great Lakes and address drinking water challenges in Wisconsin. The Senate passed the legislation today and now it heads to the President for his signature.
“This bipartisan legislation that passed the full Senate includes many reforms that I worked for to support American businesses and our workers here at home, while investing in innovative water technologies to help us solve the water challenges we face throughout our state and nation,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud that we are working together to change how communities respond to water crises, improve public health and protect our coastal communities and freshwater resources, including the Great Lakes, for future generations to come.”
Fighting for American Workers and Businesses
The final bill that passed today includes a five-year extension of Buy America requirements for water infrastructure projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
The Senate version of the water infrastructure legislation included Senator Baldwin’s permanent Buy America requirement, which earned President Trump’s support. The House-passed legislation included no Buy America requirement. In House-Senate negotiations on the final 2018 WRDA, the House would only agree to move to a five-year Buy America extension.
“A five-year Buy America standard is better than the status quo, but Speaker Ryan and the House failed to keep President Trump’s promise. Our American manufacturers and workers deserve a permanent Buy America commitment from Washington that rewards their hard work,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m going to continue my work to ensure that we are doing right by them by making sure that America is buying what Wisconsin makes with a permanent Buy America standard.”
Supporting Innovative Water Technology
Senator Baldwin secured provisions from her Water Technology Acceleration Act that will incentivize the development and deployment of emerging water technologies to provide better solutions to our most pressing water challenges. The bill dedicates $10 million each year to the new Innovative Water Technology Grant Program created by Senator Baldwin to address water quality issues. Wisconsin entrepreneurs are at the cutting edge of water technology innovation, and this effort will help to ensure these new solutions are deployed to respond to threats to our drinking water, from lead in water to groundwater contamination. This effort is supported by The Water Council.
Preventing Asian Carp from Reaching the Great Lakes
This legislation also takes an important step to addressing a major threat to Wisconsin’s economy—the threat of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes. The bill authorizes funding for the critical action-plan for blocking Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
Senator Baldwin was successful last year in ensuring the draft-version of the Brandon Road Study was released publicly. Finalizing this critical effort is the next step in Senator Baldwin’s efforts to press for action and protect the Great Lakes fishery, a $7 billion industry.
Investing in Clean Drinking Water
Senator Baldwin fought for critical investments in WRDA to promote clean drinking water through the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. This funding will provide financial assistance to local governments in Wisconsin for drinking water infrastructure projects. In addition, WRDA reauthorizes and strengthens the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act to support water infrastructure projects.
WRDA also provides grant opportunities for states to assist local communities in addressing water contamination issues and increases funding for the monitoring, testing and replacement of school drinking water fountains that contain lead components.
Strengthening Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities
WRDA directs the Army Corps to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the water resources needs of the Great Lakes System. Senator Baldwin worked to include this Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study to develop a coordinated strategy to manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline from threats associated with erosion, flooding and aging infrastructure. In Wisconsin, severe erosion threatens homes, public utilities and infrastructure in affected areas, including Mount Pleasant, Racine and Kenosha.
This study has the support of seven Great Lakes states, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and several organizations including the Great Lakes Commission and Coastal States Organization.