Graves & Rouzer Statements from Hearing on Stakeholder Priorities for WRDA 2024
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer (R-NC) from today’s hearing, entitled, “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Stakeholder Priorities”:
Chairman Graves' Statement
Thank you, Chairman Rouzer, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today.
This is our second hearing in preparation for the Committee writing and passing our sixth consecutive bipartisan Water Resources Development Act since 2014. Ensuring effective and reliable water infrastructure is vital to American families, businesses, farms, and the economic development of our country.
My district is bordered by two of the longest rivers in the United States – the Missouri and the Mississippi. These Rivers provide millions of Americans with water, provide thousands of farmers with irrigation for their farmland, and provide an extremely efficient and reliable way to move goods in and out of America’s heartland. That’s why a major priority of mine is ensuring our river navigation infrastructure on the Mississippi, Missouri, and the rest of our Nation’s waterways gets the investment it desperately needs.
In addition, we must prioritize flood control. A little too much rainfall, and too little focus on flood control, can lead to disastrous results for people who live and work along our Nation’s waterways. We learned that lesson the hard way in 1993, 2011, and again in 2019 when flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers devastated communities across my district.
I have long been concerned that current river management incorrectly prioritizes fish and wildlife over the protection of people and property. And that’s led to many of our tax dollars being wasted on supersized science experiments instead of being responsibly invested in restoring levees and increasing flood resilience. Addressing that will be a top priority of mine throughout the development of WRDA 2024.
Chairman Rouzer's Statement
Today’s hearing marks the second in a series of hearings this subcommittee is holding ahead of drafting a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for 2024. Last week, we heard from Assistant Secretary Connor and General Spellmon about the Administration’s priorities for WRDA 2024. Today, we have the opportunity to hear from stakeholders from across the nation about the importance of Army Corps Civil Works programs and maintaining a consistent two-year WRDA schedule.
WRDA is one of the most important pieces of legislation we work to draft and pass here at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and we are proud to do so regularly. Every two years since 2014, Congress has been able to pass a bipartisan, consensus WRDA bill into law, helping communities across the country. I look forward to working once again with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue the important tradition of passing a WRDA bill every two years.
As I mentioned at last week’s hearing, WRDA is a critical vehicle to meet the water resources needs in communities nationwide. Reliable water navigation systems allow for the safe and efficient shipping of cargo, fueling our economy. Levees protect homes and businesses from flooding. Dams also provide flood control for communities, along with power and opportunities for recreation. Finally, of particular importance to my constituents up and down the coast in North Carolina’s Seventh District, coastal restoration and nourishment projects mitigate erosion and damage from frequent coastal storms.
WRDA 2020 reauthorized the Coastal Storm Risk Management projects in Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach allowing these beaches to continue to receive renourishment. As sand naturally drifts away with the current over time, these coastal communities rely on a predictable renourishment cycle to ensure they are not at unmanageable risk when storms come. WRDA 2022 provided authorization for investment in other erosion mitigation efforts, such as the Shoreline and Riverine Restoration in Southport, North Carolina, which will bolster the river’s resilience against damage from storms and vessel traffic.
However, the best way to combat erosion and enhance mitigation efforts is to have a clear understanding of our coasts. To support this effort, the last WRDA also authorized the National Coastal Mapping Program in North Carolina which will map inland and coastal waterways to identify factors which increase flood risk. I was pleased to see this project addressed in the 2024 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. I was also pleased to continue support of the Wilmington Harbor deepening project as authorized in WRDA 2020 to allow the Port of Wilmington to meet increasing demand. All of these efforts are critical parts of keeping Americans safe and allowing our nation’s economy to thrive, which is exactly what WRDA does.
An important part of the WRDA process is the partnership between the federal government, non-federal partners, and stakeholders, who come together to solve local water resources needs. I am glad to see today that we have a panel of witnesses made up of diverse interests and geographic areas, but who are brought together not only by water resources issues, but also by solutions that WRDAs can provide.
I look forward to hearing from each of you here today on the importance of WRDA in assisting with flood control, inland waterway navigation, coastal restoration, beach renourishment, and ensuring safe movement of goods through maritime transportation.
Particularly, I would like to extend a warm welcome to a friend and constituent of mine, Mayor Teresa Batts of Surf City, North Carolina, with whom I have been able to work through the WRDA process to secure an important beach nourishment project upon approval from the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
Click here for more information from today’s hearing, including video and witness testimony.