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

Washington (September 15, 2016) – Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren today commended Senate passage of a comprehensive water resources and water infrastructure bill, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. This bill 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. The legislation included several of the senators’ top priorities for Massachusetts.

“The Senate has passed a robust water resource and infrastructure bill that will help maintain a safe drinking water supply and combat the consequences of climate change in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the WRDA legislation. “This legislative package will help communities improve the quality of their drinking water, prepare for rising seas and more intense storms, and become more competitive in an increasingly globalized economy. I thank Senator Warren for her partnership on the provisions in the legislation that will benefit Massachusetts, and look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that our water resources and infrastructure priorities are met.”

“Everyone needs safe drinking water, and the Water Resources Development Act will support key infrastructure that will help protect our drinking water and our environment. I’m glad the Senate passed this bill,” said Senator Warren. “I’m especially happy we were able to get several good provisions included in the bill that benefit Massachusetts communities and families through support for infrastructure improvements. This is an important part of how the federal government can be a strong partner for our Commonwealth’s cities and towns.”

“Massport is grateful to Sen. Markey for his persistent dedicated stewardship of the dredging project which is critical for a vibrant growing port,” said Massport CEO Tom Glynn. “We are fortunate to have the support of our entire delegation as we move forward.”

The Senators’ provisions incorporated into the legislation include:

  • Modifying the federal cost-share for harbor deepenings, which could save the Massachusetts Port Authority $16 million on the Boston Harbor Dredging project;
  • Moving the headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s New England District to Hanscom Air Force Base;
  • Increasing the federal funding cap for beach erosion projects from $5 million to $10 million, which could allow the Corps to build more robust beach nourishment projects for the Towns of Salisbury and Newbury;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Modifying the width of the Essex River Navigation Project to allow the Corps to dredge the river, improving navigation and safety;
  • Updating and improving the reporting and notification requirements for drinking water violations; and
  • Establishing a new water infrastructure grant program for underserved and disadvantaged communities.

In April, Senator Markey joined Senate Democrats in introducing a comprehensive water infrastructure bill, which includes his Contaminant and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act.  The CLEARR Act would require the EPA to establish requirements for electronic reporting of water quality testing results, updating the requirements for repeat- or serious-offender water systems, and creates a system so that residents can request in-home water quality tests from the EPA and receive the test results in an expedited manner.  Several of these provisions are included in the WRDA bill.