Markey, Warren Applaud Massachusetts Provisions in Water Resource and Infrastructure Bill

Several Markey-led priorities for Massachusetts incorporated into bipartisan legislation, including provisions to benefit Boston Harbor, Hanscom Air Force Base, and local municipalities

 

Washington (December 13, 2016) – Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren today commended inclusion of several key provisions benefitting Massachusetts in the comprehensive water resources and water infrastructure bill, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016, formerly the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). This bill, which passed the Senate last week, will help address the adverse effects of climate change, improve the safety of and infrastructure for our nation’s drinking water, and spur economic growth.

“This legislative package provides welcome relief and support to communities throughout Massachusetts that are working to improve the quality of their drinking water, bracing for sea level rise and more intense storms, and striving to be more competitive in the global economy,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the WIIN legislation. “I thank Senator Warren and the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation for their partnership on this crucial bill.”

“I’m very glad this bill contains several key provisions we fought for to help Massachusetts’ communities improve their water infrastructure,” said Senator Warren. “The kinds of projects supported by this bill are good for families and good for economic growth across the Commonwealth. That’s why I’m particularly disappointed that Republicans refused to require infrastructure projects funded by US taxpayers use American-made materials -- a commonsense rule that would have supported American jobs and further strengthened our economy here at home.”

 

“Senator Markey lead the charge to not only insert, but also protect this key provision in the WRDA bill,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “We are grateful that the entire Massachusetts delegation worked together to move the legislation forward, a feat few thought possible this year. We look forward to continuing to work with our federal and state representation on the Harbor dredging project.”

 

The Senators’ provisions incorporated into the legislation include:

  • Boston Harbor - Modifying the federal cost-share for harbor deepenings, which could save the Massachusetts Port Authority $16 million on the Boston Harbor Dredging project;
  • Hanscom Air Force Base - Moving the headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s New England District to Hanscom Air Force Base;
  • Towns of Salisbury and Newbury - Increasing the federal funding cap for beach erosion projects from $5 million to $10 million, which could allow the Corps to build robust beach nourishment projects for the Towns of Salisbury and Newbury;
  • Town of Sandwich - Requiring the government to pay more for studies to assess whether federal infrastructure is causing harm to Massachusetts’s shorelines, which may allow the Town of Sandwich to pay less for their shore damage study;
  • Town of Sandwich - Limiting local governments’ operations and maintenance obligations under the Corps’ beneficial use program, which would give communities like Sandwich, Massachusetts, more flexibility to use sediment dredged from federal channels for beach nourishment;
  • Essex River - Modifying the width of the Essex River Navigation Project to allow the Corps to dredge the river, improving navigation and safety;
  • Plum Island and Salisbury Beach - Authorizing the Portsmouth Harbor and Picataqua River project, which could provide a much needed source of sediment for nourishing Plum Island and Salisbury Beach; and
  • Establishing a new water infrastructure grant program for underserved and disadvantaged communities.

 

In October, Senators Markey and Warren sent a letter to WIIN Conferees advocating for Massachusetts’ water resource priorities.  Further, Senator Markey led and Senator Warren joined a letter in support of a provision modernizing the cost share for harbor deepening projects, which will dedicate more federal resources toward harbor deepening projects beyond 45 feet, including Boston Harbor.