WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the Senate passed a government funding bill that includes a number of investments U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped secure for Ohio water infrastructure projects as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA 2020). WRDA 2020 invests in key water infrastructure projects to be studied, planned and developed by the Corps, including our nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood and coastal storm protection and ecosystem restoration. The House also passed the package, which now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Ohio’s waterways and ports are critical for our local economies,” said Brown. “This bipartisan legislation increases investments to ensure that the Great Lakes remain a vital shipping hub, provides a blueprint for dealing with shoreline erosion due to rising water levels and will make overdue investments to keep Asian carp out of Lake Erie.”
Key Ohio provisions secured by Brown in WRDA 2020 include:
- Authorized funding for the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study (GLCRS). This study, proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers in consultation with the Great Lakes states, would be the first of its kind to coordinate a strategy across the Great Lakes states to most efficiently and effectively manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline. Studies have shown that the coastline plays a critical role to the economy of Great Lakes states. It includes commercial harbors moving over 123 million tons of cargo annually, a maritime economy valued at $17.3 billion that generates 293,000 jobs, and a $14 billion recreation and tourism economy.
- Brown and Sen. Rob Portman’s legislation to restore and protect the historic Joseph Barker Jr. House (Barker House) along the Ohio River in southern Washington County, Ohio. Specifically, the legislation will convey the Barker House and land immediately surrounding the house to the local friends group, Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House, with plans for the house to be restored and accessible to the public. The Barker House is currently owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) was slated for demolition by the Corps.
- A provision to fund the Tuscarawas River Flooding Study Act, which requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of an assessment of the Tuscarawas River Basin. The feasibility study is the next step in on-going efforts to address flooding in southwest Summit County.
- Brown’s bill to rename the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.
- Brown and Sen. Portman’s provision to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to relocate access to the Port of Cleveland’s confined disposal facility (CDF) for dredged material placement if it becomes necessary to provide access to the CDF.
- Funds to help maintain Great Lakes harbors and shipping channels so that vessels can continue to travel safely throughout the Great Lakes. Additionally, the legislation includes a provision to require the Great Lakes Navigation System to receive no less than 13 percent of total annual funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF).
- Additional funds to conduct the Brandon Road Chief’s report, which will help keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and a provision to increase the federal contribution to the project to 80 percent.