Text: S.Hrg. 115-304 — LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON S. 2800, AMERICA'S WATER INFRASTRUCTURE ACT OF 2018
(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
[Senate Hearing 115-304]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 115-304
LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON S. 2800, AMERICA'S WATER INFRASTRUCTURE ACT OF
ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
MAY 9, 2018
Printed for the use of the Committee on Environment and Public Works
[GRAPHIC NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.govinfo.gov
U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
31-136PDF WASHINGTON : 2018
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Publishing Office,
http://bookstore.gpo.gov. For more information, contact the GPO Customer Contact Center,
U.S. Government Publishing Office. Phone 202-512-1800, or 866-512-1800 (toll-free).
E-mail, [email protected]
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming, Chairman
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware,
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia Ranking Member
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland
ROGER WICKER, Mississippi BERNARD SANDERS, Vermont
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, Rhode Island
JERRY MORAN, Kansas JEFF MERKLEY, Oregon
MIKE ROUNDS, South Dakota KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, New York
JONI ERNST, Iowa CORY A. BOOKER, New Jersey
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
RICHARD SHELBY, Alabama TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
Richard M. Russell, Majority Staff Director
Gabrielle Batkin, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
MAY 9, 2018
Barrasso, Hon. John, U.S. Senator from the State of Wyoming...... 1
Carper, Hon. Thomas R., U.S. Senator from the State of Delaware.. 2
Inhofe, Hon. James M., U.S. Senator from the State of Oklahoma... 5
Cardin, Hon. Benjamin L., U.S. Senator from the State of Maryland 6
Riley, Pat, Advisory Committee Member, Family Farm Alliance...... 8
Prepared statement........................................... 11
Response to an additional question from Senator Barrasso..... 26
Sternberg, Dennis, Executive Director, Arkansas Rural Water
Prepared statement........................................... 30
Response to an additional question from Senator Barrasso..... 38
Swallow, Kristina, President, American Society of Civil Engineers 41
Prepared statement........................................... 43
Bullock, Hon. Jeffrey, Secretary of State, State of Delaware..... 50
Prepared statement........................................... 52
Response to an additional question from Senator Barrasso..... 58
Pratt, Tony, President, American Shore and Beach Preservation
Prepared statement........................................... 61
Letter to Senator Baldwin from Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage
District, January 29, 2018..................................... 105
Letter to Senator Baldwin from NEW Water, January 30, 2018....... 106
LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON S. 2800, AMERICA'S WATER INFRASTRUCTURE ACT OF
WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2018
Committee on Environment and Public Works,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:03 a.m. in
room 406, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. John Barrasso
(Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Barrasso, Carper, Inhofe, Capito,
Boozman, Wicker, Fischer, Rounds, Ernst, Sullivan, Cardin,
Whitehouse, Gillibrand, Booker, Markey, and Van Hollen.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN BARRASSO,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING
Senator Barrasso. Good morning. I call this hearing to
We are here to examine legislation titled America's Water
Infrastructure Act of 2018. This is bipartisan legislation.
This legislation is introduced along with Committee Ranking
Member Carper, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee
Chairman Inhofe, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Cardin.
The Senate Committee of the Environment and Public Works
has jurisdiction over much of our Nation's water
infrastructure, including locks and dams, inland waterways,
irrigation and water systems, and ports. These infrastructure
systems are critical to keeping America prosperous and safe
from dangerous floods and contaminated water sources.
This bipartisan legislation is a result of significant work
in negotiations among the members of our Committee, and I want
to thank each and every one of the members of the Committee for
The discussions are ongoing. We plan to add a bipartisan
manager's amendment to the bill, when we mark it up later this
month, in order to address a number of other outstanding
Water infrastructure is important to every region, to every
State, to every tribe, and to every community in America.
America's Water Infrastructure Act is going to support our
Nation's economic competitiveness by increasing water storage,
by deepening nationally significant ports, by addressing aging
irrigation systems, and by maintaining the navigability of
inland waterways across the country.
In my home State of Wyoming and across the West, water
storage capacity and supply are vital to local economies.
Sediment build up behind dams severely limits water storage.
Our bill is going to address this problem by directing the
Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers to
develop sediment management plans for Federal reservoirs.
America's Water Infrastructure Act will also expand our
Nation's water storage capability by facilitating the
permitting of additional reservoirs. For example, in Wyoming,
the bill would approve the expansion of water storage at the
Bureau of Reclamation's Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County.
Expanding water storage will give our farmers, ranchers,
and communities a reliable supply of water in order to keep
their livestock and their crops healthy. More water storage
also provides an economic incentive for new businesses to grow
and to create jobs throughout the Nation.
America's Water Infrastructure Act will also fix
deteriorating irrigation systems that are vital for growing
crops and for raising livestock.
The legislation isn't just important for rural America.
Dredging nationally significant ports and maintaining our
inland waterways will enhance our growing economy. Goods and
raw materials need to move from the heartland to the coast for
export. The bill is designed to maintain these vital arteries
of commerce. It is good for big cities and for rural
This legislation is also about health and safety. It
includes provisions to repair old drinking water and wastewater
systems, protecting communities from contaminated water
sources. The bill will make it easier for the Army Corps to
take steps to keep communities safe from flooding. It will
address maintenance needs of older dams and levees that protect
communities from dangerous floodwaters.
Finally, this bill will create an addition to the benefit-
cost ratio framework. The addition will give local stakeholders
a greater role in prioritizing Army Corps projects. Under this
new provision, more projects are likely to be built in small
rural and inland States.
America's Water Infrastructure Act is going to authorize or
reauthorize important water infrastructure programs and
projects that benefit all 50 States, so I urge my colleagues to
work with me in a bipartisan way to pass this important
legislation so we can create American jobs and promote our
Nation's prosperity, health, and safety.
With that, I would like to turn to the Ranking Member and
cosponsor of the legislation, Senator Carper, for his
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS R. CARPER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF DELAWARE
Senator Carper. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
As my colleagues know, I take the train most days down to
Washington from Delaware. Almost every day somebody on the
platform, waiting to catch the train, will come up to me and
say I wouldn't have your job for all the tea in China; you must
hate your job. I really don't at all. I feel lucky to be here.
I feel lucky to serve with the men and women around us on this
Committee and in the Senate.
I wouldn't want to spike the football too early, but this
is a day to celebrate. This is a victory, I think, in
introducing this legislation, for bipartisanship, for fiscal
responsibility. This is a victory for environmental soundness.
It is good for the economy and embraces the idea of using some
common sense, so I think we can be proud of this.
My colleagues hear me from time to time quote Lincoln. What
is the role of government? The role of the government is to do
for the people what they cannot do for themselves. Think about
One of the major roles of government is to create a
nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation,
along with a lot of other stakeholders. We try to do that, and
I think successfully with this legislation.
So, my thanks to our colleagues on my left here, Senator
Cardin, my thanks to Jim Inhofe and your staff, certainly to
our Chairman for working with us and with our colleagues on
this Committee and off the Committee to address America's water
Our bill, titled ``America's Water Infrastructure Act,'' is
an important piece of legislation, given that the authorization
law under which the Corps of Engineers currently operates
expires come December. I am proud of the bipartisan work we
have done together on this legislation. We are stronger
together, and I hope that it will serve as a model for work
that we on this Committee, along with others, can do in the
future, this year and beyond.
Before I comment on the bill, I just want to thank all the
witnesses for joining us today. I especially want to thank Jeff
Bullock, who is our Secretary of State for the State of
Delaware, who previously worked with me when I was a
Congressman and with my chief of staff as Governor, and for a
little bit as chief of staff for my first year in the U.S.
Sitting right behind in the audience is Jonathan Jones, who
worked as part of our team, who was my chief of staff. Two of
my chiefs of staff here, former chiefs of staff here.
People ask me why I have had some success. I always
surround myself with people smarter than me, and these are a
couple of them, and we are delighted that they are here.
I want to welcome back Tony Pratt, who is the President of
the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. He has
been here before. He is a senior member of our Department of
Environmental Protection in Delaware Natural Resources and
Environmental Protection, and we thank Tony for joining us, and
all of our other witnesses, too.
Coastal issues are extremely important to everybody in the
room, but especially to the lowest lying State in our country,
that would be Delaware, and the water resources bill is
critical to our State's economy as it is to many other States.
Delaware's economic reliance on the Corps' work is not
unique. I was astounded by this fact, but over 90 percent of
U.S. overseas trade volume--over 90 percent of U.S. overseas
trade volume--moves through coastal channels that the Corps
maintains. Think about that. Over 90 percent of U.S. overseas
trade volume moves through coastal channels that the Corps
maintains. They have an incredible job, incredible
responsibility for all of us.
The Corps inland waterways and locks form a freight
network. Think of it almost as a water highway that provides
access to international markets through our ports. They also
serve as critical infrastructure for the U.S. military.
Our bill authorizes investments in this system in multiple
ways, multiple ways. Most notably, it positions the Corps to be
an active partner with ports, with communities, with States,
with tribes, and other stakeholders in growing and expanding
our Nation's economy.
A reinvestment in this partnership is much needed. For the
better part of a decade now, the executive branch has
calculated water project costs and benefits in a way that has
led to a backlog of unfunded and uncompleted--but needed--
projects. Our bill works to address this problem by authorizing
new funding and project planning requirements at the Corps'
most local level, including individual Corps districts.
This legislation requires local participation in the
development of new district plans, too, and hopefully this
participation will allow for a more transparent and long-term
look at the Corps' activities and serve to build a better and
bigger groundswell of support for increased appropriations for
the agency's initiatives down the line.
Our legislation also invests nationally in both coasts and
inland waterways. I am particularly proud of a provision that
will support the selection of natural infrastructure
alternatives as a practical solution in situations where and
when the development of gray or more traditional infrastructure
alone may not work.
The Corps of Engineers also works to reduce risk to human
safety and property damage from flooding. Flooding alone
currently costs the United States billions of dollars annually.
As the 2017 hurricane season illustrated, our Nation needs
to be ready for the next extreme storm or flood event, because
it is coming. Earlier this year, NOAA, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, announced that the total cost for
extreme weather and climate events in 2017--get this--exceeded
$300 billion, a new annual record in the U.S. It is clearly not
a matter of if the next extreme weather event is coming; it is
a matter of when.
Our bill allows the Secretary of the Army to waive the cost
share for hazard mitigation related feasibility studies so that
we can be shovel ready before the next storm hits.
Additionally, the bill modifies the Corps' existing emergency
authorities to allow the agency to participate in storm damage
recovery for a longer period of time, make more resilient
infrastructure decisions, and where appropriate, cost share
infrastructure replacements so resources can go further.
The American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure
Report Card gives our country's dams, our levees, our inland
waterways a D, as in dog, as in decrepit. It gives our
country's dams, levees, and inland waterways a D, representing
an overall cumulative investment backlog of nearly $140 billion
in an authorized but unconstructed portfolio of $60 billion.
The bill reauthorizes the Corps' dam safety programs and
makes needed changes as proposed by civil engineers.
Clearly, we have a lot of important work to do to move this
bill across the goal line. However, if we continue to work, as
we have, in a bipartisan fashion, I think we will get the bill
done, and our country will be better for it.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for your leadership on this
bill and for your staff's hard work.
I also want to thank our partners. I want to thank Senator
Inhofe, who has worked in these vineyards before; Senator
Cardin, as well, and your staffs for being a part of this
I just want to briefly recognize the staff members who are
among those who worked very hard on this bill. They include
Brian, Andy, Pauline, Lizzy, Craig, May, Jennie. In addition, I
want to thank Christina Baysinger, Skylar Bayer, and John Kane
of our own staff on the minority side. All of our staff has
spent countless hours working together through provisions that
matter not just for Wyoming, not just for Delaware, but for our
Nation as a whole.
Again, we welcome our witnesses. We look forward to hearing
from each of you this morning to make this very good piece of
legislation even better in the weeks to come.
Thank you so much.
Senator Barrasso. Well, thank you very much, Senator
I would like to now recognize the Chairman of the
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Senator
Inhofe, if you have some comments you would like to share with
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES M. INHOFE,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Senator Inhofe. Well, I do. I do. I would introduce the
staff people like Senator Carper did, except they are all over
at the EPA, so they are not here today.
Anyway, I thank you and the Ranking Member, Senator Cardin,
for having this thing. I can remember the years that I chaired
this Committee. We had gone through a number of years where we
were supposed to do this, and everyone knows this, we were
supposed to do it every 2 years. We had some periods of 4 or 6,
and one 8-year period where we didn't do it. We got back on
schedule, and I applaud the leadership of this Committee for
Now, in all the people who are here today, it is important
that we keep it up, we keep it going, and we do it in the
proper way. It is one of the few things that really works well
in Government, is the way we do the WRDA bills.
In Oklahoma, our State DOT has an 8-year plan which is
updated yearly and is publicly available. Now, everybody knows,
there are no secrets in this thing. They know what we are
planning to do, they know well in advance. They participate in
The budget reforms in this bill will provide an ongoing 5-
year window of certainty and transparency, and allow for more
input from stakeholders when creating priorities within the
Corps' districts and headquarters.
The bill will also help our communities in building out
their water and wastewater systems and assist them in complying
with the many Federal mandates that are creating so many
problems for so many people.
The growing communities in my State of Oklahoma, like
Bartlesville, will be able to contract for additional water
storage without breaking the bank. We have clarified language
so that the stakeholders along the McClelland-Kerr Arkansas
Everyone in this room knows because you are all experts,
but out in the real world, how many people know that we are
navigable in the State of Oklahoma or in Arkansas? As we go
through, I remember 100 years ago, when I was in the State
Senate, someone came to me from the World War II Submarine
Veterans Association, and they said, we'd like to demonstrate
what we can do in Oklahoma. We are going to take a World War II
submarine all the way from the Gulf of Mexico up through
Arkansas to Oklahoma to the Port of Muskogee.
They said it couldn't be done. All my adversaries were
saying we are going to sink Inhofe with his submarine. All
these things were going. But we actually did get all the way up
there, and it was a great experience, so we are on the map.
With entrepreneurs in Oklahoma like Grant Humphries--I was
down at his operation not too long ago. I can remember when the
Corps didn't provide any kind of help in recreational activity.
They are doing it now, and we are doing it successfully.
I know that no bill is perfect, and I know there are some
concerns related to the Hopper dredge, and we are working on
language, working closely with those who have a personal
interest in that. We want to be sure that, if the private
sector has areas where availability is not there, a compromise
can be reached to try to accommodate those needs.
So, I look forward to continue to work with my colleagues
to improve this bill. This will be one of the major pieces of
legislation that we can all be proud of.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Inhofe.
I would now like to recognize the Ranking Member of the
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Senator
Cardin, if you have comments you would like to share with us.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN,
U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Senator Cardin. Well, Senator Barrasso, I want to join with
Senator Carper and Senator Inhofe in congratulating you for
bringing this bill to the Committee's attention in the best
traditions of our Committee. I agree we should be doing these
reauthorizations every 2 years in order to make sure that the
authorizations are contemporary with need. It is our
Committee's responsibility to do it, and you are carrying that
out in the best traditions. It is certainly bipartisan, and it
is focused on clean, safe water for our Nation, advancing water
infrastructure for both public health and our economy, and
doing it in a fiscally responsible way, so I am proud to be
part of this effort.
For our Nation, let me just mention three bills that I
worked on with other members of this Committee in the U.S.
Senate that parts are incorporated into this America's Water
Infrastructure Act. I am pleased that a good part of S. 1137,
the Clean, Safe, Reliable Water Infrastructure Act, is
included. Senator Boozman has been one of the leaders on that,
Senator Inhofe and Senator Duckworth, an important bill that
deals with drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in our
Parts of S. 692, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act,
Senator Fischer was very much engaged in that Act, along with
Senator Brown, that deals with the affordability, which is
important to all parts of our country, but particularly to my
State, in Baltimore, it is a major issue and deals with
integrated planning of our water infrastructure.
And then S. 451, the Water Resources Research Amendments,
again by Senator Boozman, that we worked on for additional
research into the effectiveness and efficiency of new and
existing water treatment works.
So, there is a lot of important work that is being done for
national strategies dealing with modernizing our water
I am proud of the impact this will have on the State of
Maryland. I know that members of this Committee may be getting
a little bit tired of my mentioning the Chesapeake Bay. I know
that Senator Carper is not, and Senator Van Hollen is not, but
others may. But the Chesapeake Bay, obviously, is a matter of
major concern. Maryland is a coastal State, and this bill will
help us deal with our coastal issues of the Chesapeake Bay and
certainly the needs of the Port of Baltimore. We have other
ports; we have a port in Salisbury, making sure that our
channels are kept dredged at the right levels.
I say that because this bill will deal with Poplar Island
and Mid-Bay Island ecosystem restoration projects, and I really
want to underscore this, because, when I first came to the U.S.
Congress, the location of sites where we could put dredge
material was extremely controversial, extremely controversial.
Hart-Miller Island is famous for congressional races based
around the future whether we could find sites to put dredge
That is no longer the case in our region thanks to Poplar
Island, which not only serves as a location for dredge
material, but is an ecosystem restoration project. Just
recently I had the opportunity to take the leadership of the
Army Corps to the site to take a look at it, and it is a model
site for what we should be doing in reclaiming lands that were
once there. This was once a habitable island that had gotten
down to about five acres. It is now being restored to thousands
of acres, and it is thriving as an environmental site.
The next location will be Mid-Bay, and this legislation
provides for the continuity of the locations for dredge sites
in Maryland in the Chesapeake Bay for keeping our channels to
the depths that are needed, because that is critically
important to our economy and the ports.
There is a provision in this bill that deals with the
Anacostia River to complete the feasibility study. That is
Last, Mr. Chairman, I want to mention the point you
mentioned, and that is the cost-benefit analysis dealing with
smaller facilities. We have, in Maryland, numerous sites that
are critically important to get Army Corps work to deal with
recreational and tourism issues, and your leadership here will
make it more likely we can get those projects on schedule to
get the work that they need.
I am proud to be part of this effort.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Cardin.
I would like to now ask Senator Boozman if he would like to
introduce one of our guests.
Senator Boozman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to take a second to give a special thanks to
Dennis Sternberg being here today. Mr. Sternberg has spent
almost 40 years in water and wastewater industry in Arkansas,
hailing from Greenbrier, Arkansas. Twenty-nine of those years
were spent working in almost all field positions, as a field
rep, EPA program manager, USDA circuit rider, and wastewater
He and his Arkansas Rural Water Association staff are truly
committed to the future of rural communities by assisting
utilities throughout the State with the many challenges rural
and small utilities continue to face.
He holds the highest water and wastewater licenses in
Arkansas: Class 4 water distribution and Class 4 water
treatment and Class 4 wastewater license in Arkansas.
In 2006 Mr. Sternberg received the Executive Director of
the Year Award from National Rural Association, and in 2009 the
United States Department of Agriculture and National Rural
Water Association recognized Dennis for leadership in emergency
Mr. Sternberg, we truly do appreciate you being here and
appreciate you bringing your knowledge of so many years, so
much experience to the Committee today.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you very much, Senator Boozman.
Well, we have a wonderful panel here to join us today.
Pat Riley is here, the Advisory Committee Member from the
Family Farm Alliance; Mr. Sternberg, who has just been
recognized, is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural
Water Association; Kristina Swallow, thank you for joining us,
the President of the American Society of Civil Engineers; and
then, of course, Jeff Bullock, Secretary of State from
I understand when you started working for him you had hair.
That's what I hear.
Senator Barrasso. And Tony Pratt, President of the American
Shore and Beach Preservation Association.
I want to remind our witnesses your full written testimony
will be made part of the official record today. If you could
please keep your statements to 5 minutes so we may have
additional time for questions.
I look forward to hearing your testimony, beginning with
Please proceed. Welcome.
STATEMENT OF PAT RILEY,
ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER, FAMILY FARM ALLIANCE
Mr. Riley. Thank you, Senator Barrasso, Senator Carper, and
members of the Committee. I am new to this, so bear with me.
My name is Pat Riley. I live near Roundup, Montana, which
is in central Montana, the Missouri Breaks country. I am a
farmer-rancher and also a consultant throughout the State that
works with farmers and ranchers to deal with water rights and
water resource issues.
I previously served as a manager of the Rivers Adjudication
in northeast and southeast Montana, which entailed working on
the Upper Missouri and the Yellowstone River Basin for a number
Prior to that I managed Montana's Irrigation Development
Sustainment Program and worked with a lot of Indian tribes, up
`til 2014, where I moved back into the private area.
I am here to represent the Family Farm Alliance and bring
perspective for the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone River
Basins, where I live and I work. The Alliance has provided
extensive testimony, written testimony, and I am only going to
address a couple of different issues. Although I do have an
interest in many other issues; it is just, with 5 minutes, I
picked three of those.
The first section that I wanted to talk about was Section
1024. This deals with the watercraft inspections on the Upper
Missouri and the Columbia Basin in regard to the aquatic
invasive species issue. Just in the last 2 years in Montana we
have had two Bureau of Rec projects where, in fact, the zebra
mussels, some sign of the zebra mussels has hit our State, and
we are in panic mode, and inspections are taking place in
Montana, and we are actually formulating that. This will
definitely help us to try to preserve our waters, even though
the Eurasian milfoil has been in our State for a number of
years, and we are trying to deal with that.
Section 3306 and 3403, these are the sections about the
reservoir sediment problems that we see day to day in our State
and throughout the United States. Siltation is a chronic
problem throughout the West. I have looked at reservoirs from
BIA, any Federal projects to State projects to local projects,
and many of the reservoirs are 70 to 100 years old.
There are some of the reservoirs that I work with that are
50 percent full of silt right now. Well, if you think of that
from my perspective as a farmer and rancher, this means that
when I had 20 inches of water to use on my crop, now I have 10.
I can't raise the crops I need to raise with 10 inches of
water. So, this is a huge issue, siltation, from the farming
side. Flood control is also a huge issue.
The biggest reservoir area is an Army Corps project, the
Fort Peck Reservoir project. It is 19,200,000 acres feet of
water. It is the upper of the three big reservoirs on the
Missouri River. Well, if you assume that say it was 25 percent
full of silt, which is 1930s vintage, that would be a likely
scenario. We are talking about 5 million acre-foot that is used
for flood control and irrigation and those sorts of things.
That is a huge chunk, and it is only growing each and every
day. I run into it all the time; we see it out on smaller
projects where that has dramatically increased. And when you
have silts of that level, your evaporation goes up because
water becomes shallower.
The final section that I want to talk about is the tribal,
one that is very near and dear to me, Sections 3807 and 3808.
These are the tribal water right projects. I work solely on
Indian water right projects in our State. We have seven
reservations and thousands of acres of irrigation in BIA
projects. Most of the BIA projects, I have to admit, are in
woeful state. If I was to compare the Bureau of Rec projects in
our State, they are probably 30 percent worse than the Bureau
of Rec projects, who we all know have 100 years of
infrastructure that has been sitting there and falling apart.
We need to deal with this. On the tribal projects, there are
some that I would call almost non-functional.
I know that was just a brief of the things that I reviewed,
but I felt like I needed to take as little time as possible,
and I would like any questions that you would like to provide
me later on. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Riley follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Barrasso. Thank you very much, Mr. Riley.
STATEMENT OF DENNIS STERNBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS
RURAL WATER ASSOCIATION
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you.
Good morning, Chairman Barrasso, Senator Boozman, and
members of the Committee. It is an honor to be here, and we are
grateful that you have included the voice of rural America in
Thank you, Senator Boozman, for consistently listening to
and helping rural Arkansas, including holding the first hearing
on Senator Wicker and Senator Heitkamp's technical assistance
bill, which is contained in today's legislation. And thank you,
as well, for sponsoring the SRF WIN with Senator Booker.
Rural and small town USA depends on this Committee to
ensure that the interests of rural communities are contained in
Federal legislation. The Great Compromise of 1787 that allows
for proportional representation of States, including very rural
States, in Federal policy is alive and well in this Committee
and in your legislation. Thank you for that, Senators Barrasso,
Carper, Inhofe, and Cardin. Rural America is very appreciative
for the very helpful and beneficial provisions in your water
legislation, America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, and we
urge its passage and enactment.
My name is Dennis Sternberg, and I am the Executive
Director of Arkansas Rural Water Association, a non-profit
association of small and rural community water and wastewater
utilities in Arkansas. But I also am here representing the
National Rural Water Association, which has over 31,000 member
We are very appreciative that your legislation includes
numerous drinking water and clean water provisions that make
the America's Water Infrastructure Act a comprehensive water
legislative package. I would like to focus my comments on the
important and beneficial provisions under Title 5.
Section 5004, Technical Assistance. Approximately 80
percent of the country's 14,500 wastewater utilities serve
populations fewer than 10,000. As you know, small and rural
communities have a much more challenging time complying with
Federal Clean Water Act permits and operating complex
wastewater systems due to the lack of technical resources in
small communities. This legislation provides a solution to the
lack of technical resources in small communities by providing
technical experts, as we call them, Circuit Riders, in each
State to be shared by small and rural communities. For these
Circuit Riders to be effective and helpful, they must be able
to directly travel to any given community to work specifically
to solve any of the specific problems.
Section 5010, the Water Workforce Investment. We welcome
this new Federal attention and emphasized mission for water
work force development. Like me, when I first started working,
not every young person entering the work force necessarily has
the option to go to college. A college degree is of value, but
it is not required. A true apprenticeship model would be a
welcome enterprise for the water worker universe. In any given
day, water workers may be operating heavy equipment to repair
broken lines, working with toxic chemicals, welding, conducting
tests, operating process controls, complying with Federal
rules, managing construction, and the list goes on.
Section 5011, Sense of Congress Relating to the State
Revolving Funds. Thank you for supporting the funding for the
SRFs. They are essential in funding water infrastructure and
projects to comply with the Federal rules, especially the small
and rural communities in our State and the country that have
more difficulty affording service due to lack of population
Section 5012, the GAO Study on WIFIA Projects. We hope the
GAO will review the WIFIA program considering it does not
require any economic needs based targeting, credit elsewhere
means testing, or focus on compliance. Small and rural
communities support Senator Boozman and Senator Booker's SRF
WIN Act, which improves WIFIA by authorizing an opportunity for
States to direct some portion of the WIFIA funding to be used
by each State's SRFs.
Section 5006, Water Infrastructure Flexibility. We support
the legislation for improving the current affordability
analysis used by EPA to make compliance reasonable on
ratepayers, especially in economically disadvantaged
populations. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA adopted a
policy that families can afford annual water rates of 2.5
percent of the median household income, which adversely impacts
rural communities that have higher percentages of people living
in poverty and the lower MHI.
This Committee is very important to rural and small town
America, and we are grateful for the opportunity to testify
today for the attention and consideration you have provided in
crafting this most recent legislation.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sternberg follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Mr. Sternberg.
Ms. Swallow, thanks so much for being with us today.
STATEMENT OF KRISTINA SWALLOW,
PRESIDENT, AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
Ms. Swallow. Thank you. Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member
Carper, and members of the Committee; thank you for inviting me
here today to testify on the importance on a long-term,
strategic investment in our Nation's water resources.
I am Kristina Swallow. I am a licensed professional
engineer, and I am the President of the American Society of
Civil Engineers, a professional engineering society
representing over 150,000 members.
It is wonderful to be back here in Washington, DC, where I
previously served for 3 years as an AAAS fellow and legislative
aide to Senator Tom Udall.
Many of you are familiar with ASCE's Infrastructure Report
Card that we release every 4 years. ASCE's 2017 Report Card
gave our Nation's infrastructure a grade of D+ and determined
that there is an investment gap of $2 trillion over the next 10
years. Our Failure to Act Economic Study found that our
Nation's deteriorating infrastructure and growing investment
deficit hurts our Nation's economy. Failing to invest by 2025
carries enormous economic costs, to the tune of nearly $4
trillion in lost GDP and 2.5 million jobs lost in 2025 alone.
It also costs every single family in our Nation $3,400 a year
in disposable income.
WRDA bills are critically important to the health of our
Nation's water resources, which in turn play a crucial role in
the Nation's economy, public safety, and the preservation of
our environmental resources. Our levees, dams, inland
waterways, and ports protect hundreds of communities, support
millions of American jobs, and generate trillions of dollars of
As you are well aware, many of these infrastructure assets
have reached or exceeded the end of their design life and need
to be repaired and modernized. Two programs that ASCE has long
championed are the National Dam Safety Program and the National
Levee Safety Program. Both are crucial components of risk
reduction and protect communities, critical infrastructure, and
trillions of dollars of property.
The National Dam Safety Program was reauthorized in WRRDA
2014 and has helped inventory nearly 90,000 dams across the
country, assessing their condition and providing training and
tools to dam safety programs.
The National Levee Safety Program, enacted in WRRDA 2014,
has helped to create an inventory of our Nation's levees. We
now know the location and condition of nearly 30,000 miles of
levees. However, there is much work to be done to further
inventory the thousands of miles of levees not yet in the data
We are pleased that America's Water Infrastructure Act of
2018, or WRDA 2018, includes a reauthorization of both
ASCE is also supportive of alternative financing mechanisms
for water resources projects, including the WIFIA program,
which can be utilized by the Corps for a variety of water
resources projects. We are pleased that this bill includes
reauthorization of WIFIA and we encourage the Corps to continue
their implementation of the program.
ASCE championed Section 5014 of WRRDA 2014, authorizing the
Corps to enter agreements with non-Federal interests to finance
construction of at least 15 water resources development
projects. We were pleased that President Trump's infrastructure
proposal included provisions to remove barriers to
implementation of this program. We urge the Committee to follow
in the Administration's lead by authorizing a user fee
collection and retention under this Corps pilot program.
Finally, we ask the Committee to include the SRF WIN Act in
WRDA 2018. This legislation offers an innovative new tool to
leverage limited Federal resources and stimulate additional
investment in our Nation's infrastructure, while safeguarding
against any cuts to the existing State revolving funds and
In conclusion, ASCE believes our Nation must prioritize
investment in our water resources infrastructure systems.
Strategic, robust, and sustained investments through long-term,
reliable Federal funding, as well as through the utilization of
alternative financing mechanisms must be made quickly if we
hope to close the growing gap and restore America's world class
I thank you for holding this hearing. ASCE looks forward to
working with you and the members of the Committee to find
solutions to our Nation's water resources investment needs, and
I look forward to taking your questions later.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Swallow follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Barrasso. Thank you so much for your testimony.
Mr. Bullock, welcome back to the Committee. Look forward to
hearing from you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
STATEMENT OF HON. JEFFREY BULLOCK,
SECRETARY OF STATE, STATE OF DELAWARE
Mr. Bullock. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, to my Governor, Tom
Carper, to members of the Committee, for the privilege of
appearing before you today and offering some brief remarks
about the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 and the
importance of this legislation not just to my State and the
Mid-Atlantic region, but to our Nation as a whole.
I am Jeff Bullock. I am the Secretary of State of the State
of Delaware, but today I am here as the Chairman of the Diamond
State Port Corporation. The Diamond State Corporation is a
corporate entity of the State of Delaware. It was established
in 1923, and it owns and operates the Port of Wilmington.
Our port, like many ports in America, touches the lives of
millions of Americans every day. The banana you had for
breakfast this morning came through the Port of Wilmington
probably Monday or Tuesday of last week, and 3 weeks ago was
growing on a tree somewhere in Central America. The grapes you
enjoyed this winter were from Chile; also came through the Port
of Wilmington. Those little clementines that we love to eat
around the holidays, came from Morocco, also through our port.
Now, Senator Carper knows we are in the process of a
planned expansion at the Port of Wilmington to provide more
capacity for our existing customers and for future businesses,
and that is one of the reasons that this bill is so important
to us as we move forward.
Just let me say that over the last couple of years I have
had the opportunity to visit a number of ports both in the
United States and around the world, and perhaps more
importantly, to talk to any number of port experts
internationally, and I can tell you for certain that many of
our ports, including my own in Wilmington, are falling behind
and not able to keep pace with our competition.
Maintaining marine infrastructure such as public ports is
essential to our Nation's economic future. Delaware and the
Corps of Engineers have long enjoyed a great relationship for
as long as I can remember and as long as I have been involved
in the port, which goes back to the Carper administration,
almost 25 years now, but the importance of the Corps as we move
forward with this expansion is even more essential.
The reasons for that are pretty clear: we are in the midst
of a rapidly changing global marketplace, and ensuring the
Corps is running efficiently is more critical now than perhaps
ever before. Ports are strong partners with the Corps of
Engineers to ensure that we can meet the trading needs of our
country and the needs of the flow of commerce and keep that
But ports are also under an increasing amount of
competitive pressure. Shippers are demanding greater efficiency
and lower costs. Increased velocity, the rate at which our
goods move through ports and arrive at their final destination,
is now the measure of our success.
WRDA is an opportunity to look at process improvements, as
well as make transformational changes in how our Nation
provides resources to our seaports. Our regional ports also
work closely with the American Association of Port Authorities
and support the recommended changes and core processes that
will make navigational projects move more efficiently and
support stronger partnerships.
The amount of freight that is going to move through U.S.
ports is going to continue to increase significantly. Our own
Port of Wilmington has seen growth of 150 percent just in the
last 8 years. I want to applaud the work of the Chairman and
the Ranking Member on the provision included in this
legislation which highlights transparency and accountability in
cost sharing for water resource projects.
The foundation to building a project or conducting a
feasibility study should always be done in good faith, and with
the provisions set forth in Section 1004, local communities and
States are now able to see the balance sheets of their
respective projects. Furthermore, any unused moneys from a
project that comes in under budget will be credited back to the
non-Federal sponsor. For States and local communities like
mine, who continue to work under tight budgets year after year,
this is a big win.
Another provision in the bill that we strongly support is
Section 1012, Extended Community Assistance to Disadvantaged
Communities. Properly identifying and understanding the
disadvantaged community greatly improves efforts to engage with
those community members.
In closing, let me say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is
a valued partner in managing States' waters and beaches through
navigation, environmental restoration, flood control, and other
projects. Without this legislation, the partnership that so
many of us count on around the country as vital to our economic
growth will be stymied.
And as for ports, I would remind us all of these things: 23
million American jobs are supported by U.S. seaports; $6
billion of goods are handled through seaports each and every
workday; $312 billion a year in tax revenue is generated by
port activity; and $4.6 trillion of economic activity is
related to our seaports annually. Very clearly, our ports are a
central part of our country's economic future.
Thank you again for having me today. I look forward to any
questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bullock follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Barrasso. Thanks so much, Mr. Bullock.
Mr. Pratt, welcome to the Committee. We look forward to
hearing from you.
STATEMENT OF TONY PRATT, PRESIDENT,
AMERICAN SHORE AND BEACH PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION
Mr. Pratt. Good morning. I want to, first of all, start by
thanking the Chairman and Ranking Member for the leadership in
bringing this bill forward, as well as the Subcommittee
leadership in bringing this bill forward. It is very important
we keep on a biennial track.
I am the President of the American Shore and Beach
Preservation Association, an organization founded in 1926 that
is intended to help care for the Nation's coastlines and
beaches through science and technology.
We want to start today by saying how happy we are looking
at the 5-year budget plan that has been proposed. It is, to me,
very reflective of the fact that when earmarks, members'
requests, were eliminated a number of years ago from a user
standpoint, non-Federal partner user standpoint, many of the
transparencies that we enjoyed in that process of having open
discussions was lost. We find ourselves in a world of a mystery
kind of black box, where the Congress is appropriating funds
for Corp of Engineers work, we wait by the sidelines in years
of continuing resolution into the mid-spring to find out what
work we are going to be seeing coming forward, and we are then,
at that time, able to come up with our matching funds and the
Corps has to conduct contractual work in a short period of
time. The 5-year budget plan opens this process up to a better
dialogue and a better vision for the future, and we look
forward to working with the Corps and you all with that.
I like the fact of the bill's incorporation of the
Integrated Water Resources Management, which is a modernization
step that will help improve services delivery to the Nation.
Looking to align authorities, improve opportunities for
information sharing, and supporting complementary and
integrated solutions to water resources challenges among
partners and stakeholders is a valuable step forward for the
Corps and its partners and project beneficiaries.
The required guidance to ensure that the 5-year budget and
work plans take into consideration a full array of Corp
business lines to maximize the return on the Federal investment
is supported. This helps put natural infrastructure investments
on par with gray infrastructure investments.
As I have stated in testimony to this Committee previously,
water and coastal infrastructure, just like manmade
infrastructure, is about assets that society depends on, and
most particularly, it is about U.S. jobs. Creating jobs and
protecting jobs that are blue collar jobs, as well as white
collar jobs, these are American jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Service industry at the coast is alive and well and abundantly
serves the Nation's economy. Investment in natural
infrastructure through multi-business line investment secures
that economic return for generations to come.
Another issue that has been a challenge in the past is how
well informed the conversation on Federal water resource
investment has been. Our observation has been that the benefit-
cost analysis has not well served that purpose; it does not
consider the return of Federal investment very well at all.
Whereas, the total cost of projects are accounted for, there
are many national benefits that are not included. This is a
disservice to the Nation, we believe.
We strongly advocate for a more informed BC process that
informs appropriators on the full return of national benefits
on the investment made. The 5-year budget plan and the
integrated water resources approach are a major step forward in
realizing this goal. We again thank you for your inclusion of
these and look forward to future discussions with you on
approving the benefits calculations. We are also very happy to
see the call for the GAO study that will examine the possible
BC calculation reforms. This is a wise course of action and
very much needed.
By the fact that the EPW Committee remains committed to a
biennial Water Resources Development Act, the Corps' Civil
Works budget remains on a forward looking track, and each
subsequent WRDA provides opportunity to continue to build
improvements and modernization of the Corps' Civil Works
ASBPA is also appreciative of the inclusion of the Great
Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study. Combined with the North
Atlantic Study, the South Atlantic Study, and Gulf Coast
studies that have gone on, we are perching our Nation very much
in a better position to have a resilient coastline when future
storms occur. This is an objective we strongly support.
Finally, the National Academy's study is endorsed. This
study will take a broad view of the way in which the Nation's
water resources development projects are delivered. The NAS
study should take into consideration how the Administration
views the Corps' mission and supports it through budget and
We strongly support an overview of how the Corps currently
operates and if there are improvements that could be made to
get projects completed as quickly and efficiently as possible,
should they be identified and pursued. ASBPA offers our
assistance in any way you may find our expertise and experience
with coastal water resources protection projects helpful in
accomplishing your stated goals.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk with you
today and look forward to any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pratt follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Barrasso. Well, thank you so much, Mr. Pratt.
Thanks to all of you for your testimony.
We have a diverse group of stakeholders who have already
provided letters and statements of support for America's Water
Infrastructure Act of 2018. They include the Family Farm
Alliance, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of
Cities, the National Association of Counties, the American
Society of Civil Engineers, the National Rural Water
Association, the American Water Works Association, the
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the National
Association of Clean Water Agencies, and the Portland Cement
I ask unanimous consent to submit all of these letters and
statements in support of the bipartisan legislation for the
Without objection, it is done.
[The referenced information was not received at time of
Senator Barrasso. Let me start with a question.
Mr. Riley, if I could ask you, please. Developing adequate
water supply for future uses in States like Wyoming, Montana,
can be difficult because of the regulatory permitting process.
We have talked about this. It can also be challenging when the
Corps disagrees with a State about the purpose and the need of
proposed water storage or to adhere to unexpected permit
conditions that come with the permit. These roadblocks often
happen later in the permitting process, upending projects after
significant time and resources have already been spent by the
Can you explain how future economic growth is impacted in
States like Wyoming and Montana when adequate water supply
storage is blocked by cumbersome Federal red tape, and can you
explain how this bill will help address this important issue?
Mr. Riley. Senator Barrasso, members of the Committee,
usually, when these red tape and these processes are blocked,
we have already spent millions of dollars of State and private
money to get to that stage. It is kind of like running into a
roadblock when the Army Corps puts their foot down, because the
only option for us at that point is to come back to you
gentlemen, and that becomes very difficult when you live a 2-
days' flight from Washington, DC.
In the proposal--sorry about the section, I don't
remember--about having the Committee or the group set up, it
gives us a second chance to lay out our facts, because
oftentimes the perspective of the man making the initial
decision, this allows us to have people in the room that
understand what we are talking about. It gives us a second
chance. Not that we will always get there, but if you kill that
momentum--I have been in many projects--when you kill it, you
kill it, and it is hard to get back. I know of some storage
projects we have done in our State that got killed, and they
Senator Barrasso. Following up, we know that adequate and
affordable water supply is critical to farmers and ranchers in
Wyoming, Montana. Our reservoirs across the West to Midwest
have lost significant water storage capacity due to sediment
build up. This legislation we are discussing today increases
water supply in existing reservoirs by developing sediment
management plans for these reservoirs through the use of
partnerships between the Corps and the U.S. Bureau of
If we restore these reservoirs' capacity by removing this
excess sediment, what will be the impact for family farmers
across the West and Midwest?
Mr. Riley. Senator Barrasso, members of the Committee, I
can address that from a personal note. I actually farmed in the
Milk River Valley, which is a Bureau of Rec project, and our
upper reservoir is about 65 percent full of silt. That stores
half of our water supply. So, if I can put that in real terms,
that $200 hay, which is kind of where we talk, that costs me
about $300, $350 an acre.
As a young farmer early in my career, it almost took me out
of the business. You can't manage on that; you can't bank on
that. That is what that storage really means, in a nutshell, to
the farmer. It could be his malt barley crop or his beet crop,
Senator Barrasso. Thank you.
Ms. Swallow, this legislation authorizes several Corps
projects for construction and encourages expedited completion
of several projects that are already underway. Each of these
projects serves an important purpose, such as providing for
navigation, for flood risk management, for hurricane and storm
damage, risk reduction, ecosystem restoration. You have seen
Can you further elaborate on why ongoing and future Corps
projects are so critical when it comes to maintaining America's
economic viability, including job creation, economic growth,
and our global competitiveness?
Ms. Swallow. Thank you for that question, Chairman
Barrasso. The Corps maintains a network of 25,000 miles of
inland waterways, 239 locks, and over 13,000 miles of levees.
All of these assets help move our goods out to other parts of
the country, as well as our international markets, they protect
our communities, and they provide access to clean drinking
water and other benefits to our communities.
Unfortunately, we have not been funding the Corps as
needed. These facilities are not just decades old, some of them
are a century old; and while they were designed with the best
information we had at the time, they are no longer meeting
their needs, they are beyond their design life, and they
weren't designed for the traffic they are seeing today. It is
critically important for our economy and for our communities
that we continue to invest in the Corps; and not just invest,
but increase that investment to really meet their needs.
Senator Barrasso. Senator Carper.
Thank you all.
Senator Carper. Mr. Chairman, I am happy to yield to
If any of you have time constraints, I am happy to yield. I
am not in a hurry to get out.
Senator Inhofe. I am good. I will wait for you. I don't
want to miss what you are saying.
Senator Carper. Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Senator Carper. All right; John, do you want to go first?
Senator Inhofe. Whoever doesn't want to hear.
Senator Barrasso. Well, I have some questions for Mr.
Senator Boozman. Thank you all so much for holding this
very important hearing.
Before I get started, I would like to take a second to
offer a group of support letters for the SRF WIN Act that we
have been talking about and some of you all have mentioned in
your testimony. This includes the National Rural Water
Association, the Council of Infrastructure Financing
Authorities, the American Society of Engineers, the Associated
General Contractors of America, the American Council of
Engineering Companies, the National Association of Clean Water
Agencies, Ducks Unlimited, the American Public Works
Association, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, the
Water Systems Council, the International Union of Operating
Engineers, the Vinyl Institute, the Hydraulic Institute,
California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Orange County
I would also like to take a second and thank the EPA Office
of Water, the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities,
American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation,
and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies for
providing us technical assistance to ensure that we preserve
the WIFIA and SRF programs for years to come.
[The referenced information follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Boozman. Mr. Sternberg, let me ask you. The SRF has
a great track record of handling SRF funding to address vitally
important water issues, wastewater projects in the State for
years. Rural States like Arkansas, though, have limited access
to funding. Across the country, SRFs have thoroughly vetted
projects from small, medium, and large communities that are
waiting to be funded.
Can you please explain what the additional funding created
by another tool in the toolbox, like SRF WIN, what would that
mean for water infrastructure in rural America?
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you, Senator Boozman. That is a great
question. Let me just say Arkansas Natural Resources Commission
is the agency in Arkansas that handles the SRF for the Safe
Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, and they have done
an excellent job, but there is still a need. With this bill,
you know, you have the SRF WIN in it, and that will allow the
WIFIA program to be much more helpful to some of the rural
communities such as we have in Arkansas, which is a very rural
State, and many of your States are rural.
But not only rural communities. We think it will steer the
WIFIA to look at the communities with the greatest economic
need and communities that each State thinks is the priority,
and giving the State the priority that handles SRF to say this
project needs to be funded. It also allows for that low
interest rate to come through with the WIFIA funding. It will
be an excellent partnership with the SRFs, and it will be
excellent to the utilities across the State of Arkansas and
many States across the Nation.
Senator Boozman. Ms. Swallow, we certainly appreciate your
leadership and the great job that your organization does in
constantly pushing us in the right direction and really
describing the situation that we are in regarding
Can you tell us a little bit about the growing shortfall in
infrastructure funding in the country?
Ms. Swallow. We could talk for days about that, Senator
Boozman. So, when we start talking about the investment gap
needed for our infrastructure systems, you can look at drinking
water alone and recognize that we waste billions of gallons of
water everyday through leaky pipes. That equates to trillions
of gallons a year. And we don't have a single drop of water to
waste, really, especially in the western portions of our
We have a growing funding gap. Currently, it is estimated,
in the next 20 years, almost three-quarters of a trillion
dollars, $750 billion is the funding gap on our water and
wastewater needs alone. We have to find a way to invest in this
Senator Boozman. So, we are all doing the best we can. We
are working away, but the current situation is not near as good
as we would like, so something like an SRF WIN type of
financing, how would that affect things?
Ms. Swallow. First, I want to thank you for your
sponsorship of the SRF WIN Act. It is----
Senator Boozman. Myself and Senator Booker.
Ms. Swallow. Yes, thank you, and Senator Booker.
It is just one more tool in our toolbox that will help our
local communities fund the infrastructure that they need to
serve their communities' needs. It is intended to take the best
parts of the State Revolving Funds and the WIFIA program and
provide that access to our local communities where the State
infrastructure financing authorities can implement the program.
It provides additional flexibility; it doesn't further tax the
EPA with another program where the State infrastructure
financing authorities are already administering our State
So, it is a great tool. It will leverage the limited
Federal funding $1 up to $50 in additional funding. It will be
just one more tool that our local agencies can use.
Senator Boozman. Good. Thank you very much.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Boozman.
Senator Fischer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Swallow, if I could follow up on some of this. As you
know, our inland waterways are critically important for moving
our abundant agricultural products to ports located along our
coasts. As the only triple landlocked State in the Nation,
Nebraska and our ag producers rely on efficient river barge
traffic and a functional inland waterway network to supply our
overseas customers with our high quality products.
As you note in your testimony, there is great need for
investments in maintenance and repair of these inland
waterways. Also in your testimony you emphasize the benefits of
WIFIA loans authorized by the Army Corps and the benefits that
they could supply to this network.
Can you elaborate on how the WIFIA loans could be applied
for inland waterway projects?
Ms. Swallow. WIFIA loans are, again, just one more tool
that we have; it is an alternative financing mechanism where we
can leverage the limited Federal investment $1 up to $50 of
additional private and alternate funding sources.
When we have insufficient funding, we have to be able to
use all the tools that we have in our toolbox, and that is just
another way that we can do it. The WIFIA program has just
recently been started by the Army Corps, and we are excited to
hear that, and we are looking forward to their continued
implementation of it.
Senator Fischer. Do you believe that private-public
partnerships are feasible when looking at inland waterways? Do
you think that there will be private enterprises step forward
to be able to access that funding?
Ms. Swallow. As long as there is a way to offset and for
them to see a revenue source, they are a great way to improve
our network. As you mentioned, so many of our products go
through that inland waterway system, so I do see that as a
Senator Fischer. Thank you.
Mr. Sternberg, I thank you for once again testifying before
our Committee. Given your career working with wastewater
infrastructure, I am sure you are familiar with unfunded
Federal mandates, specifically those communities facing
expensive Clean Water Act compliance requirements related to
stormwater and wastewater projects.
In my home State of Nebraska, the city of Omaha was hit
with a $2 billion unfunded Federal mandate from the EPA to
update its combined sewer overflow system. I was pleased to see
my Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act included as Section
5006 in the bill before us, and I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
The purpose of this section is to allow communities facing
expensive stormwater and wastewater infrastructure updates to
have greater flexibility to achieve compliance under the Clean
Mr. Sternberg, can you please discuss your experiences with
communities that are forced to comply with expensive Federal
mandates, and will this section of the bill help alleviate some
of the financial and structural burdens these communities are
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you, Senator. My experience in
Arkansas, where there are about 700 community water systems,
and then we have about 350-some wastewater systems--Arkansas,
as Nebraska, is a rural State. The majority of all systems in
the Nation, 14,500, serve less than 10,000. So, when you start
passing regulations from EPA down to comply with the same level
as a large city such as Omaha, it is harder because you don't
have the customer base to spread that cost across the board. It
is very hard financially on the system, the customers of the
system, but it has to be paid for some way or another.
That is why a grant-loan ratio. That is why we think, also,
there needs to be more technical assistance put in for Circuit
Riders. That is what we do; we go out there and work with these
small systems and larger systems with our equipment. We do the
INI studies on their collection system. There is no need in
building a brand new plant if you can fix the INI. It is kind
of like Ms. Swallow mentioned, the water loss that you have on
leaks on water systems. You know, let's identify the problems
and fix them; don't build another well or another treatment
plant because you have more leaks. It is the same way on the
wastewater side. You know, let's be reasonable. Let's look at
it. That is where the engineers do an excellent job identifying
the problems on your utility to try to come in compliance. But
we have always argued that unfunded mandates, EPA states that
you need to do this, but they don't fund it.
We have had the same problem with the EPA on our technical
assistance funding. Back in 2012 it was put out through EPA, no
more earmarks, so in 2012 they had to go out and go through the
process of bidding out all the technical assistance. Well,
there were several different pieces of legislation that was
introduced to make EPA streamlined and do it with the utilities
that is deemed the most benefit, whatever nonprofit is most
beneficial to them. They haven't done that. EPA has not done
that, and members on this Committee have wrote letters to EPA
in regard to that, about, you know, you need to go back to this
rule and do it this way, but they haven't done it, and we have
letters to back up, letters that Senators sent and EPA
Senator Fischer. We have seen a huge increase on these
bills to the people in the city of Omaha, so I am hopeful that
the flexibility provided in this bill is going to help
alleviate some of that hardship they are facing.
Mr. Sternberg. I think it definitely will.
Senator Fischer. Thank you.
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Fischer.
Senator Whitehouse. Thank you, Chairman. Let me open my
time by thanking you and the Ranking Member for the
constructive way in which this Committee is proceeding on WRDA
legislation. We often find ourselves at odds on certain issues,
but I applaud the way in which the Committee works in
bipartisan fashion on the water resources, and I want to
particularly recognize the both of you.
Ms. Swallow, one of the things that we see is that the
march of progress and innovation brings new materials to the
fore, innovative materials, often composite materials. What is
your read on how well the Army Corps engineering manuals and
other guidance provide adequate preparation for applicants to
be able to use those innovative materials in projects? Should
that be a continuing focus to try to make sure that the
standards that have been in place for concrete and steel and
other more traditional materials are updated to include
innovative and composite materials?
Ms. Swallow. Senator Whitehouse, that is a fantastic
question. Indeed, we do agree that we need to provide for all
agencies to incorporate the use of new materials. We can't
continue to design projects the way we did 50 years. We can't
afford to do that, and the projects won't be sustainable, so we
need to figure out ways to incentivize development of these new
materials, their use of the materials, and ensure that they do
get into our projects.
Senator Whitehouse. And out of date engineering manuals and
other guidance create a lag that inhibits the implementation of
projects that include those new materials, correct?
Ms. Swallow. It is natural that the standards and
guidelines do have a bit of a lag, but the intention there is
to ensure that we are protecting public safety and not
implementing them too soon, so we need to make sure that we
both incentivize the use of them, but also continue to ensure
that they are being safely used.
Senator Whitehouse. Well, I appreciate that.
In Rhode Island we have a lot of small communities, and I
see Mr. Bullock here representing another coastal State with
small communities. I have noted that the Army Corps' Flood and
Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Account in the fiscal year 2019
budget is funded at $1.49 billion. Of that $1.49 billion, we
have found only $40 million marked for coastal projects. Even
in the Flood and Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Account, the
ratio of upland and inland projects to coastal projects appears
to be about 37:1, which does not seem appropriate under
virtually any circumstances, but particularly not appropriate
when we look at the type of coastal flooding, coastal storm,
lousy FEMA mapping, and other challenges that small communities
What is your comment on that?
Mr. Bullock. Senator, I am going to not tell you how to do
your job, but I am going to yield to my fellow Delawarean to my
left who is the expert in this.
Senator Whitehouse. I accept that referral.
Senator Whitehouse. Mr. Pratt.
Mr. Pratt. And I am now retired from the State of Delaware,
but 38 years in the business, and that is why my Secretary of
State is referring over to me.
From Delaware's standpoint and from the national
standpoint, we certainly see the problem with that discrepancy
that small investment made to the coastline. I think to answer
that, I would point out something I have said to this Committee
in the past. For point of illustration, how far off we are in
the investment, and I use the fact that we are depending, in my
mind, anyway, we are depending too much anymore on
supplementals to fund coastal restoration work. We are
responding, and I certainly see a number of Senators----
Senator Whitehouse. So your recommendation would be that we
need to make a stronger focus on coastal restoration work right
into the WRDA program?
Mr. Pratt. Sixty-five billion dollars was spent for
Hurricane Sandy supplemental, $65 billion. And of that, let's
say $20 billion of that was probably very much directly coastal
related in the affected States. We take that number and we say
$20 billion over one storm and maybe 25 percent of the coasts
of the United States. If we had spent that money for 20 years
over the entire Nation, that is $1 billion investment a year to
avoid the damages and to avoid the suffering that occurred
before we had to pay that cost of recovery.
Senator Whitehouse. In my final seconds, let me make the
point that Rhode Island has not applied under the WIFIA program
for some time now. One of the reasons is that the Rhode Island
infrastructure bank is actually easier to work with; doesn't
require such a paperwork load up front and that, for smaller
projects and for smaller communities, the WIFIA project really
is not all that useful. So, I hope that as we continue to work
our way forward, we can find ways to make the WIFIA program
more amenable to smaller projects and smaller communities,
because a great number of our coastal communities are smaller
communities; we are not all New York City.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Whitehouse.
Senator Gillibrand. So sad for you.
Senator Barrasso. Senator Capito.
Senator Capito. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank all of you for being here.
And thank you and the Ranking Member for working so well
together on this.
This is really a question for anybody who wants to handle
this on the panel. For many of our constituents, how the Corps
actually deploys their funds and rehabilitates our waterway
infrastructure is confusing and ultimately a disappointing
maze. First you have a study that is authorized by Congress;
then the Corps has to complete the study, often soliciting
funds from their local stakeholders; then Congress authorizes
the study and appropriates funds to the Corps for construction
or operation and maintenance. Still, sometimes after all of
this has occurred, nothing really happens, and usually the
refrain from the Corps is that the project failed to pass
muster under the OMB's benefit-cost ratio. That standard is
$2.50 in benefits for every $1.00 in Federal investment, with a
discount rate of 7 percent for future or long-term benefits.
Projects are having trouble meeting these threshold, and we
are left to explain to our constituents that their project, no
matter how important to the local community, can't proceed,
despite all of the Federal reviews.
So, I was wondering, do any of you have experiences that
you would like to share in which otherwise worthwhile projects
have been put on indefinite hold because of this benefit-cost
OK, so maybe that is not a problem.
Yes, sir, Mr. Riley.
Mr. Riley. Senator Capito, I can only do perspective from
some of the projects in my neighborhood. When you use that
standard without looking out way into the future, there is much
of the projects in our region that would have never been built
at that time, so, yes, that is a huge one. I can tell you from
personal experience, when you get the Army Corps of Engineers
put their foot down on a project you have been working on for
10 years or longer, maybe decades beyond that, that will crush
you right there in a local led effort.
Senator Capito. Right. Well, I think this bill tries to
help answer that question by letting districts regionalize
their projects so they become larger.
Mr. Pratt. Just another perspective from the State of
Delaware. I think there are 19 or 20 federally authorized
navigation channels in the State, only 3 of which are being
maintained. It is a different metric for determining how
waterways are maintained, which ones are actually supported
through dredging and surveying work. We have had channel
markers removed within our State because the Coast Guard can't
verify the port channel is there anymore. It is a different
metric, but it gets to the same point, that the rationalization
of what projects we do has to be examined. I think this is why
the National Academy Study is so important; it should get into
that way in which the Corps does its business, see how we can
modernize it, see how we can bring it forward and better serve
Senator Capito. Good. All right, thank you.
Mr. Sternberg, in your testimony you highlighted, in
Section 5010, which contains the text of the Water Workforce
Investment bill which Senator Booker and I have worked on. This
provision establishes an EPA grant program to spur education,
job training, and apprenticeship for careers.
You mentioned this in your opening statement, but for a
rural State like West Virginia, this is a huge challenge. Many
of our folks that have been maintaining our water systems were
under the old system and are retiring, and trying to find new
and younger talent has been an issue for us. Could you speak to
Mr. Sternberg. Yes. Thank you, Senator. National Rural
Water actually started working with the Workforce Development
Department of Labor on apprenticeships for the water industry,
and this last year we just kicked it off, and each State is
working through that process, but it is the same problem in our
State, aging work force. We have an aging infrastructure for
utilities, but we also have an aging work force as far as
knowledgeable individuals that have run water and wastewater
systems for years, and getting new, young blood to come in to
One of the reasons I still believe is the pay scale is not
where it should be. It is the most important thing we do every
day. Everybody has to have good, safe drinking water. Everybody
has to have a process for disposal of your stuff. I mean, it
does not make sense to me. But I think with this it ignites and
starts the process, and with this in the bill I think it is an
opportunity for every State to start expanding out and going
into the work force and bringing new people in.
Senator Capito. Well, I have a small community in West
Virginia where the person who was charged with keeping the
water system running and providing the clean drinking water
also was the person who checked the parking meters, and you
know, took the notes at the city council meeting.
Mr. Sternberg. The dog catcher and everything.
Senator Capito. The dog catcher and everything. And the way
the requirements that we have now, you can't do that; you have
to have the professionalization that goes along with this,
which can be very complicated, so thank you very much.
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you for the addition in this bill.
Senator Capito. Thank you.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Capito.
Senator Gillibrand. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking
Member, for holding this hearing, and for your bipartisan
leadership in drafting this bill, the America's Water
Infrastructure Act of 2018.
New York, as you know, has a wide range of water resource
needs. We are a Great Lakes State and a coastal State. We have
hundreds of dams and levees that are critical to communities
across the State which must be properly maintained to ensure
those communities are protected from flooding, and we face the
threat of aquatic invasive species that, if unchecked, decimate
fisheries and result in major economic and environmental
I am pleased that this bill includes a number of our very
important priorities. This bill includes the Long Island Sound
Restoration Stewardship Act, which reauthorizes and reforms
Federal programs that are essential to reducing pollution and
protecting the Long Island Sound Watershed. It also authorizes
the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study to protect communities
like those that are experiencing devastating flooding last
summer along Lake Ontario. I am also grateful that the bill
will utilize the study for Chautauqua Lake Project to protect
communities in Westchester from flood risk.
With that, just a few questions.
For Anthony Pratt, I appreciate in your testimony you
mentioned the Great Lake Coastal Resiliency Study, which is a
priority of mine and something that is so important for
communities across central and western New York. As you may be
aware, last summer we experienced record flooding along the
shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River,
resulting in a Federal disaster declaration due to the millions
of dollars in damage of both property and infrastructure.
Can you speak a little more about why it is important to
conduct comprehensive regional resiliency studies like the
North Atlantic Study conducted after Superstorm Sandy?
Mr. Pratt. Yes, Senator. Thank you for that question; it is
one that I mentioned briefly a few minutes ago that we support,
Looking at the Nation as a whole, we have a series of
studies that are done, North Atlantic Study, South Atlantic
Study. There are two coastal studies in the Gulf Coast, and now
the Great Lakes coming onboard, which brings us to a point
where the Continental United States is going to have fairly
comprehensive plans, without the West Coast engaged yet, on
resiliency, and there are a number of forces at work for each
one of those units or sections that is very unique.
But developing a strategic plan going forward so we can
spend the money to mitigate prior to the disaster, save the
supplemental dollars that are being spent at far to a greater
rate, as you understand from the State of New York, $65 billion
spent for recovery from Hurricane Sandy. That was after the
destruction of property, after the human suffering occurs.
Let's avoid the human suffering, let's avoid the disruption;
let's get out in front of it and invest in that infrastructure
that is going to protect the infrastructure that is behind it,
and I think the coastal infrastructure is very important in
Senator Gillibrand. Do you see any projects the Corps could
be looking at to improve the resiliency of coastal and Great
Lake communities? And a follow on, in your view, what are the
barriers that hold the Army Corps back from investing more in
natural infrastructure projects like wetlands restoration, and
what more should Congress be doing to address those barriers?
Mr. Pratt. Well, I think this bill addresses that pretty
well. In looking at the full suite of benefits across business
lines that accrue from the investment made, looking at green
infrastructure and nature-based infrastructure. In the Great
Lakes region there is a lot of bluff erosion because beaches at
the bottom of the bluffs are eroding. Great Lakes levels
fluctuate over time because of a difference in weather
There are a variety of different forces at work there, but
that said, if we can invest in green infrastructure to avoid
the damages up front, that is good, and the suite of benefits
that accrue, by enumerating the solutions that have multiple
benefits, I think the benefit-cost analysis is the area where
we are not doing a good job on the benefit side, what comes
from that investment. There would be many more values achieved
through the investment of nature-based protection than we are
counting, and that is an important step forward.
Senator Gillibrand. Thank you, Mr. Pratt.
Ms. Swallow, addressing the massive backlog of dam and
levee safety projects is another important priority. We have
approximately 400 high hazard dams in New York. What are the
consequences if we fail to take this problem seriously and
allow aging dams and levees to continue to fall into disrepair,
and how can the Corps provide better assistance to States and
localities that are responsible for maintaining this
infrastructure, but are faced with strained budgets and limited
Ms. Swallow. Senator Gillibrand, that is a great question.
What are the consequences? The consequences are devastating if
we fail to maintain our levees and our dams. The challenge with
that is that we are not even aware of the full spectrum of
levees that we have. We are underfunding our National Levee
Safety program. We are only spending $5 million to $10 million
a year, where it is authorized at $79 million a year. And some
of those authorized funds actually would go to the repair of
those levees. So, first we have to identify their locations.
Once we know their locations and their condition, then we can
start to repair them.
In terms of high hazard dams, the number of high hazard
dams is increasing annually as more and more people continue to
move into areas that are protected by these dams. Roughly 17
percent of our 90,000 dams today are high hazard, and should
that dam fail, it will result in a loss of life, so the
consequences are devastating.
Anything the Corps can do to help increase that investment
in dams and levees, but really, it ultimately comes down to
ensuring that we are appropriating the funds that are already
authorized and making sure that we get those funds to the
Senator Gillibrand. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you very much, Senator Gillibrand.
Senator Inhofe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have three areas, as I listened to the opening statements
and heard the responses to questions, that I think could use a
little more elaboration.
Mr. Sternberg, I wanted to tell you you have a real
champion of rural water in Senator Boozman. He is one that is
always on that ball, and we agree with the problems. After all,
Oklahoma and Arkansas are both rural areas. We are both
impacted by how we do treat that.
What I would like to have you do is anything you want to
add to how this bill is going to be helpful specifically to the
rural areas, give you the chance now to elaborate on that,
should you want to.
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you, Senator Inhofe. We appreciate all
your work from Oklahoma for rural water. My counterpart, James
Gammell, talks about you all the time, so thank you for the
opportunity to add some additional stuff.
My last comment on this bill would be, again, 14,500
wastewater systems throughout this Nation in every State
represent 10,000 population and under. They are the ones that
rely on rural water technical assistance in the field,
troubleshooting problems that they have because, again, they
don't have the expertise as larger systems where they have----
Senator Inhofe. We are the resources. I know it is not any
different in Arkansas than it is in Oklahoma, and when this
hits them, they have no way of responding to it as it might in
a major metropolitan area.
Mr. Sternberg. Exactly. So, the technical assistance
funding for the clean water Circuit Riders is essential. It is
essential. The Safe Drinking Water Act has the Circuit Rider
technical assistance provision of $12.7 million. That is the
issue that I have; EPA is a stumbling block because of how they
have appropriated that money and put it out.
Senator Inhofe. OK. That is an excellent statement. I just
want to make sure we had everything in the record that referred
Mr. Sternberg. I have a letter that the Senators here sent
to EPA requesting that they----
Senator Inhofe. I think it would be appropriate to ask
unanimous consent that that letter be made a part of the record
at this point.
Senator Barrasso. Without objection.
Mr. Sternberg. Thank you.
[The referenced information was not received at time of
Senator Inhofe. Ms. Swallow, really, 150,000 civil
engineers? Did I hear you right?
Ms. Swallow. Yes.
Senator Inhofe. And you are in charge of all of them?
Ms. Swallow. I am not so sure I am in charge. I represent
Senator Inhofe. Well, in your statement, toward the latter
part of your statement, you did address the SRF WIN Act, and I
just want to remind everyone that not only myself, but also
Chairman Barrasso is with Senator Boozman on this legislation.
Now, from your very unique position, is there anything you
have not said concerning that that you would like to get in the
record? You are the head of the civil engineers. What do you
Ms. Swallow. Thank you for the opportunity. We are really
excited that this bill is being advanced in a bipartisan
manner. We are excited to hear that you are working on the SRF
WIN Act. Ultimately, when we talk about our infrastructure,
anything we can do to increase the investment, that is the
biggest challenge, is increasing the investment. We are
woefully underfunding it.
Senator Inhofe. OK. Well, I appreciate that very much.
Mr. Riley, you responded to Chairman Barrasso's statement
when we talked about local participation. You know, there are
some people who really don't think a good decision is made
unless it is made in Washington, and there are those of us who
believe, who have served in the private sector, as well as the
public sector, at local levels, we don't agree with that.
In your testimony you say the best decisions on water
issues happen at the State and local level, and I would agree
with that. The decisions made in Montana are just not the same
as they would be made in my State of Oklahoma, in eastern
Oklahoma versus western Oklahoma. That is why local decisions
in control are so important.
Is there anything you would like to expand on the
advantages of the local participation that you have not yet?
Mr. Riley. Thank you, Senator Inhofe. I guess the proof is
in the pudding, in fact, the local effort. That means that we
have spent our money before we come to see you, and it is our
idea; and I believe that sells it in itself, that we have come
to you, we have spent a lot of money. In our State I have
worked on rural water tribal-State irrigation projects. We are
coming to you; that means that it has already been originated
on our side of the ball, looking for help from you.
Senator Inhofe. That is a great reminder, and we will all
remember that. Thank you very much.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Inhofe.
Senator Carper. Mr. Chairman, I received a number of
letters of support from various outside shareholders and
stakeholders. I would like to enter these into the record. They
include the League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife
Federation, Audubon, American Rivers, American Shore and Beach
Preservation Association, National Association of Realtors, the
Environmental Defense Fund.
I would just ask unanimous consent that those letters of
support be entered into the record.
Senator Barrasso. Without objection.
Senator Carper. Thank you.
[The referenced information was not received at time of
Senator Carper. I just want to say this has been a great
hearing. I mentioned to the Chairman. On issues, and usually
water resources issues, we are very good at working together,
and frankly on other issues as well. Some of our issues that we
discuss are more contentious, as you might imagine, but this is
just a great example of where we can, I think, make progress by
setting aside our differences and focusing on what Mike Enzi,
the Senator from Wyoming likes to say--and the Chairman has
mentioned this before--but Mike Enzi likes to say the reason
why he and Ted Kennedy used to get along so well on issues
before the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Commission
when Ted Kennedy was senior Democrat, and Mike Enzi, a very
conservative Republican, was the Republican leader on the
Committee, I used to say to Mike Enzi how do you guys get so
much done, and he once said to me, he said, Ted and I agree on
about 80 percent of the stuff, and we disagree on about 20
percent of the stuff. He said, what we do in the Health,
Education, Labor, and Pension Committee is we focus on the 80
percent where we agree, and we set aside that 20 percent to
And I think what we are doing today is focusing on the 80
percent, and you are helping us in this, and we are deeply
I want to ask the first question, if I could, of Secretary
Bullock, if I could, with respect to ports and then the Corps'
budget in that regard. By 2020 I am told that the total volume
of cargo shipped by water into and out of this country is
expected to be double that of 2001. Think about that. By 2020
expect the cargo shipped into our country and out of our
country to double by 2021.
As the ships continue to get bigger, we see more congestion
at the docks, and we see larger ships require deeper navigation
channels. We are deepening right now the channel that goes from
the Atlantic Ocean through the Delaware Bay, Delaware River up
into New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Only a few ports have that
kind of deep navigational channels.
How do we ensure that ports can effectively distribute and
receive goods as ships continue to grow in size? How do we
ensure that ports can effectively distribute and receive goods
as ships continue to grow in size?
Secretary Bullock, in your opinion, how does the America's
Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 bill before us support our
ports' needs; not just in Delaware, but beyond, well beyond?
Mr. Bullock. I appreciate the question, Senator. So, I
would start out by sort of reiterating what you said earlier
about partnerships and figuring out how to work together on the
80 percent where you can agree, because I think that is the key
to success here.
We know that our need for port capacity is going to
continue to grow, and probably grow, hopefully grow
significantly over the course of the next 10 or 20 years. As
has been said here today, the role of the Corps of Engineers in
all that is just critical.
I will take the example that we are involved in right now
as indicative of that. Even before we decided that we were
going to try to build a new port, and we are trying to build,
as you know, a new facility not too far from where you and I
live on the Delaware River, and it is about a $600 million to
$750 million project to build this new terminal. Even before we
made the full decision that we were going to go ahead with
that, we had to start working with the Corps of Engineers to
determine whether or not the site was going to be suitable for
that. And even before we bought the piece of property, in fact,
we had environmental studies underway to determine whether the
property was suitable for dredging, for example.
And now that we are a couple years into it, we are already
1 year into our partnership with the Corps of Engineers in the
dredging piece of that, which is supposed to be, I think a 2-
or 3-year process all told, and who knows what happens in
So, as has been said several times by this panel in a
number of different contexts, a well supported, well funded,
well devised plan by the Corps of Engineers is just absolutely
critical to us being successful.
If we can get that port up and running by 2024, 2025, that
is a pretty good accomplishment, right, to build a new port. It
is also 6 or 7 years ago, which strikes many people as being a
long time, but that is how long it takes to do all of this
To the extent that we get a well resourced Corps of
Engineers, we can minimize that amount of time, at least from
the regulatory perspective, in getting the approvals that we
need, so that is critical.
To the other part of your question, about the ships getting
larger and the changing nature of the businesses as it relates
to that, we know that ships coming up the Delaware River are
only going to be so large, and because of the deepening of the
channel, we can now handle larger ships. We can't handle the
largest ships, but it is a sort of spoke and wheel business
practice on the part of most of our customers, anyway, so that
is not going to hold us back.
Making sure that channel deepening is completed, making
sure that it is then maintained after it is completed, making
sure that we accommodate things like where we put dredge
spoils, for example, which is going to be a very big issue for
us, maybe not in the short term, but certainly is going to be
in the long term, these are the things that will allow us to
maintain our commercial development and will make us successful
in the longer term.
So, the overall message, I think, from me, and I heard it
from others, I know we all have our budget constraints, we
certainly do in the State of Delaware, but this is not a place
to cheat. This is not a place to cheat the budget. This is a
place where not only will you facilitate things like what we
are doing in Delaware, but you will be doing the exact same
thing around the country; you will grow jobs, you will grow the
kinds of jobs that we need to be developing in our country
right now, blue collar jobs that we so desperately need to
increase, and you are going to promote more economic
development in our country.
Senator Carper. Thank you for an excellent and thoughtful
Mr. Chairman, I have another question to ask of Tony, but
Senator Barrasso. Please, go right ahead.
Senator Carper. Are you sure?
President Pratt, as the President of the American Shore and
Beach Preservation Association with a long, rich history with
coastal issues, and as a former non-Federal project manager for
the State of Delaware, you know the importance of pairing
natural infrastructure improvements with engineered flood
control solutions and how they can complement each other. How
can gray and green infrastructure work together? How can gray
and green infrastructure work together? In what ways does the
bill before us actually support that hope, that aspiration?
Mr. Pratt. Thank you. Good question. Gray infrastructure at
the coastline refers to the kind of practices that were done in
the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, perhaps, where seawalls were built,
bulkheads were constructed, breakwaters were constructed and
became a way of trying to tame the forces of nature that were
impacting the coasts.
Over time, we began to look at it from a broader
perspective. If you stop and think just for a minute what
attracts so many Americans to the coasts, it is not a wall and
a sea on the other side of it; it is a beach, it is a dune, it
is a wetland, and those beaches, dunes, wetlands, the vistas
that they provide for people, the recreational benefits, but
also the protection of estuaries, which is vitally important.
We have seen the collapse of protection in the Delta in
Louisiana, for instance. The Chandeleur Islands and their
collapse created devastation of wetlands, losses of wetlands,
more exposure of New Orleans to coastal storms.
So, looking at systems that bring back those natural
features is why we went to the coast; we didn't congregate at
the coast because it is a solid wall, and then there is sea on
the other side. Those amenities, those resource values are very
important to people, so bringing those back into the fold, they
can perform very well. We think in our minds about the Dutch
and the way they protect country, which is below sea level. I
used to think there were probably giant walls everywhere. I
have seen photographs--I have not been to Holland to examine
them, but I have seen photographs, and their protection, their
dikes, as they are called, are dunes and beaches, massive dunes
and beaches that are providing recreational amenities, natural
resource amenities, but also do the job of keeping the sea
So, combining the two I think is a way forward that
accomplishes many goals, and I think the National Academy Study
and the GAO study looking at the benefit-cost analysis should
pick up on some of those values that come from that investment.
Senator Carper. Thank you.
Would you just mention what is going on at the Prime Hook
National Wildlife Refuge with respect to transforming a
freshwater marsh into a saltwater marsh in order to sort of
raise it up and really to save it and preserve it?
Mr. Pratt. Certainly. The National Wildlife Refuge at Prime
Hook is one that is a Delaware Bay fronting resource. For a
number of years, because of mismanagement of the streams and
creeks that went through that wetland system back in the early
part of the last century, Phragmites took over, dominated the
coastline. There was a beach, and there were seas of
Phragmites, the tall reed that we see all over Delaware.
To reverse that non-productive land, the Department of
Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, created impounded
freshwater wetlands back in the 1960s and 1970s. Those provided
tremendous benefit to migratory waterfowl for quite a number of
years, until the beach and dune system broke down and seawater
got into that system and created a tidal anomaly that didn't
allow those wetlands to flow out.
Bottom line is that, through Hurricane Sandy relief, $38
million was appropriated to the Department of Interior to
rebuild the beach and dune, and to create a wetland system that
was based on tides again. Again, entirely valued by benefit-
cost analysis was strictly on the environmental improvements
that would come, and the benefit would provide to migratory
waterfowl, which is the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
So, the values are there. They are very high values, and
Department of Interior looked at it closely and said, yes, it
is very much in our favor to go ahead and make that investment,
$38 million to restore a complete system to its original
Senator Carper. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, let me go back, but if I have a question I
would like to ask later on, a very short question of Ms.
Senator Barrasso. No, please go on.
Senator Carper. I was sitting next to Tom Udall in a
meeting earlier today, and I am sure he would want to convey
his warmest regards and his thanks for all the help you
provided when you were a member of his staff.
Ms. Swallow, do you believe that the Corps' current
budgetary funding is sufficient to accomplish its mission for
inland waterways, and how does this bill assist on this front?
Ms. Swallow. Thank you for the question, Senator Carper. Is
the budget sufficient? No, it is not. We have infrastructure on
our inland waterway systems that dates back not just decades,
but in some cases, as I mentioned earlier, a century, and that
infrastructure is struggling to meet the needs of our Nation.
If we don't fully restore our inland waterway system, we
will see the impact of that product, instead of being shipped
on the inland waterways, it will hit the rest of our surface
transportation system and cost us a lot more not just in terms
of the cost for the producers who are trying to get their
products to market, but will cost every single American citizen
as we buy that product, so we need to find a way to further
improve the investment in our inland waterway network.
One of the things that we really like about this bill is
that it enables the Corps to charge and collect fees on their
facilities that they can then use to leverage the WIFIA
program. We will not attract private investment unless they
know that they can see a return on their investment, so that is
one of the steps that we are excited to see in this bill, is it
allows the Corps to start collecting and retaining fees for
operations and maintenance.
We, of course, like that the bill is reauthorizing WIFIA
and the dam and levee safety programs as well.
Senator Carper. Thanks.
When we say dam safety program, I always think is that with
Senator Carper. We will note here for the record today it
is just d-a-m.
This has been great. Mr. Chairman, thank you again for
pulling this all together and for our witnesses that are here
from Delaware and other places far and wide.
Again, I just want to say to our staffs, deeply grateful
for the great work that is being done not in the light of day
so much, certainly not here under these lights, but very good
work is being done, and we know we have a lot more that needs
to be done, so we look forward to that journey. Thanks so much.
Senator Barrasso. Well, thank you very much, Senator
Carper. You were kind enough to mention so many of the staff. I
think Richard's name was left out, so, Richard, we apologize,
but are grateful for your great work.
Senator Carper. I would like to say something about
Senator Barrasso. If there are no more questions, members
may submit follow up questions for the record, so the hearing
record is going to be open for 2 weeks.
I want to thank all of the witnesses. Thanks so much for
your insight, for your time, for your testimony.
Senator Carper. Just an observation. I mentioned earlier
that Secretary Bullock was once my chief of staff when I was
Governor, and later for a while as a United States Senator, and
he was succeeded as chief of staff by Jonathan Jones, who is
sitting immediately behind him. And immediately behind Jonathan
Jones is a fellow who looks very much like Alan Hoffman, who
used to be chief of staff to Joe Biden as Senator and as Vice
President. I don't know who the rest of you are.
Senator Barrasso. Would people like to stand and introduce
themselves? We can work our way through the crowd.
Senator Carper. This is one heck of a Delaware lineup right
here. Thank you.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Senator Carper.
Thanks to each and every one of you who have attended, as
well as those who have participated by testifying.
With that, the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m. the Committee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]