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Higgins announces approval of water infrastructure legislation

by jmaloni


Thu, Oct 24th 2013 09:30 pm

Bill, which supports Great Lakes improvements, to help grow economy and jobs

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced approval of H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).

"Western New York serves as a microcosm demonstrating the great economic potential and benefits of protecting and improving our nation's waterways," said Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force.

It is estimated that every $1 invested in waterways returns $10 to the nation's economy. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, waterways and ports support 152,025 jobs in New York and directly contribute $32 billion to the state economy.

Highlights of the bill include:

•Funds for emerging harbors (including recreational harbors) that have an important economic impact on the local economy despite handling low levels of commercial cargo.

•A pilot financing provision to promote public/private partnerships that could help secure alternative funding for already-authorized projects that have stalled without funding.

•Increased funding for maintenance and dredging, which would help address the shortfall in funding for the Great Lakes operating and maintenance needs.

•Coordination of efforts to slow the spread of Asian carp in the Ohio and Upper Mississippi rivers, helping to keep the invasive species away from the Great Lakes.

The bill also includes portions of H.R. 2273, the Great Lakes Navigation System Sustainability Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Candice Miller and cosponsored by Higgins. The provision will designate the Great Lakes as a "system" much like the Ohio, Illinois and Mississippi rivers are classified as unified systems. This distinction will help ensure adequate funding, put the Great Lakes on an even playing field, and reduce competition between Great Lakes ports and harbors.

Similar legislation has already passed in the Senate, so the two bills will now go to conference to be reconciled.

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