THE WATER RESOURCES REFORM AND DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2013
(House of Representatives - October 23, 2013)

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[Page H6687]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




         THE WATER RESOURCES REFORM AND DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2013

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Miller) for 5 minutes.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I come from the great State of 
Michigan, also known as the Great Lakes State, and I have lived my 
entire life along the shores of this national treasure. For those of us 
in Michigan and the other Great Lakes States, the Great Lakes are not 
just a source of much of our drinking water or a place that we go to 
enjoy their natural beauty or recreational opportunities or where so 
many work and make a living; they are central to our very identity. 
That is why I have made the protection of the Great Lakes a principal 
advocacy during all of the years that I have been in public service.
  The Great Lakes actually represent fully one-fifth of the freshwater 
drinking supply on the entire planet. They provide the drinking water 
supply to tens of millions in our Nation and millions more in Canada as 
well. They are also vital to our economy. Over 160 million tons of 
commercial cargo is shipped on the Great Lakes. This commerce supports 
over 227,000 jobs and contributes over $33 billion to the economy.
  The recreational aspect of the Great Lakes also builds our economy. 
Recreational boating on the Great Lakes supports over 100,000 jobs and 
$16 billion in economic activity. The secondary effect of all of that 
means an additional 244,000 jobs and $19 billion in additional economic 
activity. Of course, that includes boat manufacturers, marinas, charter 
operators, and other businesses as well. So, a healthy Great Lakes 
system is not only important to our economy in Michigan or the Great 
Lakes States, it is important for the entire Nation.
  Today, unfortunately, the use of those waters is threatened by our 
inability to maintain our ports, our channels, and our harbors. A 
decade--we have had actually a decade--of below normal water levels and 
very limited or uncoordinated Federal funding for harbor dredging and 
infrastructure repair has dramatically curtailed shipping, and it has 
made, actually, some of our recreational harbors almost inaccessible. 
In fact, this year, many of our recreational harbors were really in 
crises as low water levels made the need for dredging vital to the 
economic survival of so many communities.
  We as a Nation, Mr. Speaker, must recognize the importance of the 
Great Lakes and give this natural wonder the properly coordinated 
support that it needs. That is why I have joined with several of my 
Michigan colleagues--Bill Huizenga and Dan Benishek--to introduce the 
Great Lakes Navigation System Sustainability Act. Our legislation is 
supported by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the Great Lakes Metro 
Chambers of Commerce, the Lakes Carriers Association, the American 
Great Lakes Port Association, the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition, 
the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the United States Great 
Lakes Shipping Association, and the Great Lakes Commission, as well as 
the Great Lakes Governors Association.
  I am very pleased that the chairman of the House Transportation and 
Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster, worked with us to include 
important provisions of that legislation in the Water Resources Reform 
and Development Act, also known as WRRDA, which we will be voting on in 
this House later on today.
  The most important of these provisions will establish the Great Lakes 
Navigational System and require the Army Corps of Engineers to look at 
the Great Lakes system in its entirety rather than looking at it port 
by port when they are thinking about dredging and maintenance. This 
would really end the practice of pitting one port in the Great Lakes 
against another, and, instead, it focuses on the interdependence of all 
of them.
  The WRRDA bill also helps recognize our recreational harbors by 
providing 10 percent of all the funds authorized by the Harbor 
Maintenance Trust Fund to be directed to recreational harbors. This 
type of funding will allow recreational harbors across the Great Lakes 
to have another opportunity for needed dredging support, places like 
Port Huron, Lexington, Port Sanilac, Harbor Beach, Port Austin, 
Sebewaing, and many others--those are just in my district--but there 
are so many others throughout the entire basin as well.
  Mr. Speaker, if you travel to the State of Michigan and visit the 
shores of the Great Lakes, you will find the magnificence of what we 
call ``pure Michigan.'' But, as possessive as those of us from Michigan 
are of the Great Lakes, we also recognize that they are ``pure 
American,'' so this incredible natural wonder deserves the recognition 
and protection from our entire Nation. Today, we can take a very 
important step forward in the protection of the Great Lakes, our 
magnificent Great Lakes, by passing the WRRDA bill.
  I certainly urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this 
bill.

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