Durbin Secures Key Illinois Priorities In Water Resources Bill

Durbin provisions will lower local costs for Brandon Road and Chicago Shoreline Projects

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured several Illinois provisions in the Senate-passed Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). These provisions include an increase in the federal cost share for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam Project to 90 percent that will save Illinois tens of millions in project costs. The project will construct a new engineered channel at Joliet’s Brandon Road Lock, which will be used to test and deploy new technologies that will prevent the spread of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. WRDA will also lower local project costs for the Chicago Shoreline Project by an estimated $82 million and will significantly increase the Corps annual funding limit for environmental infrastructure projects in Cook County and Madison and St. Clair Counties.

“The passage of the Water Resources Development Act will help modernize water infrastructure in Illinois and protect those who live in areas prone to dangerous and costly flooding,” said Durbin. “I’m particularly pleased we secured a provision for the Brandon Road Project. Invasive Asian Carp pose a real economic and environmental threat to one of our region’s most valuable resources, the Great Lakes. This essential funding will play a vital role in protecting the Great Lakes from the irreparable harm of invasive species.”

Key Durbin provisions in WRDA include:

  • Increasing Federal Cost Share for Brandon Road Project (Asian Carp) in Joliet: The bill increases the federal cost share for construction of the Brandon Road Project to 90 percent, significantly lowering the cost of the project for Illinois.
  • Lowering Chicago Costs by Requiring Corps to Use Local Plan for Remaining Chicago Shoreline Projects: The bill requires the Corps to use the locally preferred plan for the remaining elements of the Chicago Shoreline project, ensuring local input in these projects and saving Chicago an estimated $82 million.
  • Expanding Cook County’s Section 219 authority and increased authorization: The bill will increase the funding limit for Cook County environmental infrastructure projects from $35 million to $100 million and expand the authority to include projects in Lake County, allowing the funding of $65 million more in Corps environmental infrastructure projects in the two counties each year if appropriated.
  • Increasing Funding Authorization for Madison and St. Clair County Environmental Infrastructure: The bill increases the funding limit for the Section 219 environmental infrastructure authority for Madison and St. Clair Counties from $45 million to $100 million, allowing the funding of $55 million more in Corps environmental infrastructure projects in the two counties each year if appropriated.
  • Continues Funding for Quincy Bar By Increasing Authorization for the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program (UMRR): WRDA increases the funding limit for the UMRR program from $40 million to $75 million, allowing an additional $35 million in funding if appropriated for restoration projects on the Upper Mississippi River.  The UMRR program currently funds the Quincy Bay Restoration project, and this increase will help ensure funding continues to complete the restoration of Quincy Bay.
  • Increasing Federal Cost Share for Inland Waterways Projects, Expediting NESP Program to Modernize 7 Illinois Locks: The bill expedites the construction of inland waterways projects by increasing the percentage of federal funding provided for these projects by 10 percent.  The bill permanently adjusts the cost share for projects funded by the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to 75 percent federal and 25 percent user fees.  This change will help speed up funding and construction of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) in Illinois, which will expand and modernize seven locks at the most congested lock locations along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers as well as fund $1.7 billion in ecosystem restoration.   
  • Directing the Corps to Expedite Ongoing Projects in Illinois: Includes language directing the Corps to expedite the reevaluation of the Chicago Shoreline Project, the Bubbly Creek Restoration Project, the Fox River Restoration Project, and the Chicago River Restoration Study.
  • Protecting Great Lakes Funding Through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF): The bill protects and continues the 13 percent HMTF set aside for Great Lakes harbor projects that Durbin secured in WRDA 2020.
  • Establishing New Corps Shoreline Resiliency Authority: The bill provides a new authority for the Corps to carry out projects for the protection and restoration of coastal shorelines and riverbanks and provides a reduced non-Federal cost share of 10 percent for projects that benefit economically disadvantaged communities. 
  • Expanding Pilot Programs for Projects in Rural and Disadvantaged Communities: WRDA removes a previous limit on pilot programs for new projects in rural and disadvantaged communities, allowing the Corps to advance more environmental restoration projects in these areas, including in Illinois. 
  • Establishing a Corps Federal Advisory Committee on Environmental Justice: WRDA creates a new advisory committee to advise the Corps on actions to ensure more equitable delivery of services, projects, and project benefits through all Corps programs and guarantee that environmental justice becomes a Corps priority.