St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

Big Wins for Louisiana in WRDA 2016

Big Wins for Louisiana in WRDA 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Vitter secures key reforms in water resources infrastructure, flood mitigation projects, and port maintenance for Louisiana.

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) issued the following statement regarding today’s passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) out of the U.S. Senate. WRDA 2016 will help improve flood control, water infrastructure development, and coastal hurricane protection throughout Louisiana. After today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan passage, the legislation will head to the House of Representatives, who could vote on the legislation next week. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Vitter was essential in authoring and advancing WRDA 2016.

"WRDA 2016‎ includes some huge, major wins for Louisiana. After last month’s deadly, historical flooding in South Louisiana, it’s more important than ever for us to be proactive in updating our water infrastructure so that Louisiana families and communities are better protected,” said Vitter. “Louisianians will always be facing natural disasters, so we should be taking every possible action to ensure that flood protection projects get constructed. WRDA 2016 will help facilitate those aggressive, proactive measures by holding the Army Corps accountable to delivering projects on time, giving local officials the authority they need to bypass unnecessary red tape, and creating real, good-paying jobs to complete projects – like the Comite River Diversion – that will grow Louisiana’s economy. Now I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this bill.”

Vitter was instrumental in the construction of WRDA 2016 and successfully included several important provisions that will directly benefit Louisiana, including:

  • Authorization of the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection Project and the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Hurricane Protection Project, which will provide necessary protection for residents outside the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System along the Interstate 10 corridor and throughout communities in Southwest Louisiana.
  • Authorization for reconstructing the aging Calcasieu Lock, ensuring safe, reliable transportation along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, one of our nation’s most vital shipping lanes.
  • Reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund that extend vital programs for those ports that move much of our nation’s energy commodities, modernize cost-shares to maintain our nation’s competitive advantage in the global economy, and also provide for additional operation and maintenance needs for small, agricultural ports along the Mississippi River.
  • Authority for ports to get limited reimbursement for maintenance they perform using their own equipment on federal navigation channels to help clear the bureaucratic log jam in routine maintenance and operation of Louisiana waterways.
  • Provisions that increase the beneficial use of dredged material, which is critically important for the restoration of our coast – including the placement of dredged material in a location other than the least cost alternative.
  • Provisions that allow local flood protection authorities to increase the level of protection after a disaster and rehabilitate existing levees to provide the authorized level of protection and meet the National Flood Insurance Program requirements.
  • Provisions that allow locals to get credit for money they spend for operations and maintenance of multipurpose protection structures and work they’ve already completed on coastal restoration projects.
  • Studies to look at improvements to the Mississippi River and flood protection and ecosystem restoration for St. Tammany Parish.

After the recent devastating flooding in South Louisiana, Vitter also added language to WRDA 2016 that expedites construction of the Comite River Diversion and additional flood protection measures along the Amite River and Tributaries project in East Baton Rouge. Vitter contends that had the Comite River project been completed, it would have helped reduce flooding in Baton Rouge last month. Click here to read more.

As the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Vitter successfully passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), which directly benefited Louisiana by including coastal restoration, authorization for Morganza to the Gulf, and an increase in Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund expenditures. Vitter was the lead Senate Republican and the only Louisiana delegation member to negotiate the final legislation in conference.