Durbin: Senate Passes Legislation Investing In Water Resource Projects Across Illinois

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement after the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 by a wide bipartisan margin of 95-3. This legislation provides critical funding for projects that will help Illinois and the nation mitigate flood hazards as well as prepare for and respond to weather emergencies. Additionally, the Water Resources Development Act makes substantial investments in the nation’s water infrastructure system.
“The passage of the Water Resources Development Act will help ensure access to clean water for millions of Illinois families and protect those who live in areas prone to dangerous and costly flooding. It’s also good news for businesses in our state that use rivers and waterways to ship their products. This bill takes important steps to address the water contamination problems plaguing communities like Flint, Michigan that have devastating consequences for our health and the health of our children,” said Durbin. “I am pleased that we were able to work in a bipartisan manner to get this important legislation to the finish line. The investments made today will drive economic growth, create jobs, and save lives.”
Today’s Senate-passed legislation will:
·         Improve the nation’s crumbling water infrastructure by authorizing grants of up to $1.4 billion over five years to help small and disadvantaged communities in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The bill also authorizes up to $300 million over five years for communities to replace lead service lines, $100 million for schools to test for lead, and $50 million annually for innovative water technology grants.  Additionally, the bill provides $220M in direct emergency assistance to address the drinking water contamination in Flint and other communities facing similar emergencies.

·         Protect the Great Lakes from invasive species by providing $300 million per year for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which was established as an interagency task force to address Great Lakes environmental issues, including addressing invasive species.

·         Authorize a study of the Des Plaines River Project. The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 authorizes a final feasibility study on Phase II of the Des Plaines River Project, which includes flood risk management and environmental restoration on the Upper Des Plaines River and Tributaries in Illinois and Wisconsin.  The project will provide an additional two reservoirs and three levees as well as hundreds of smaller flood mitigation measures. The $310 million dollar project includes $10 million in flood reduction benefits and restores over 6,800 acres of land.

·         Increase Harbor Maintenance Funding and maintain a 10% set-aside of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for emerging harbors.
·         Establish a pathway for coal ash waste disposal by allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to approve state coal ash waste disposal programs if these comply with federal standards, cannot harm the public or environmental health of another state, and are reviewed every five years.
Additionally, the Water Resources Development Act provides funding for the following Illinois priorities:
·        McCook Reservoir Project. The WRDA includes language to expedite completion of Stage 2 of construction of the McCook Reservoir and provides federal funding through completion. The McCook Reservoir is a 10 billion-gallon reservoir designed to redirect flood and waste water from the Chicago region. When completed, the project will benefit Chicago and 36 surrounding suburbs, including 1.5 million structures and over 5 million people.
·        Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve & Prairie Bluff Preserve in Will County. The bill includes language reversing the Army Corps decision to retroactively require local cost share under the Continuing Authorities Program, which had imposed a significant—and unplanned—cost for work on Will County.