Bipartisan Water Resources Development Act Advances to House Floor

July 15, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted unanimously to advance the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 to the House Floor. The bill, which includes several priorities championed by Representative Tom Malinowski, will help to address the local water resource and flood mitigation needs of communities throughout New Jersey. 

The legislation includes an amendment introduced by Representative Malinowski to push back against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision last year to terminate the Rahway River Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study. For years, homeowners and businessowners near the Rahway River have lived under the near-constant threat of flooding from heavy rains. In Cranford, for instance, after Hurricane Irene, water from the Rahway poured into thousands of homes, caused millions of dollars in damages to local schools, and left thousands of residents without power, including many seniors. Other towns in the 7th District, such as Millburn, Union, and Springfield, face similar risks. Representative Malinowski’s amendment directs the Corps to expedite completion of the study, rather than walk away. It follows his tough questioning of the Corps’ leadership over the course of the past year about its level of commitment to the region, and a letter to the Corps that noted “the need to protect these communities is evident” and “the Army Corps must not walk away from their responsibility in finding an acceptable solution.”

“The Water Resources Development Act will modernize our nation’s water resources infrastructure, which will in turn help reduce flood damage and protect and restore our ecosystems,” said Representative Malinowski. “As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee I am proud to advance this bipartisan bill to the House Floor, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Corps and local leadership to address the ongoing flooding challenges my constituents face.”

Among other provisions, the WRDA 2020 bill: 

  • Creates a demonstration program to determine the causes of harmful algal blooms and to effectively detect, prevent, treat, and eliminate harmful algal blooms associated with water resources development projects—New Jersey is designated as a focus area for the program.
  • Reaffirms the commitment to greater use of natural and nature-based projects by ensuring natural alternatives are fully evaluated by the Corps and are provided the same cost-share as structural alternatives.
  • Requires the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake an inventory of water resources development projects that are or may be contaminated with PFAS, and to develop a plan to remediate and limit potential human exposure to the contamination.
  • Authorizes construction of the Hudson Raritan Estuary Ecosystem Restoration project, which will restore 621 acres of habitat and reduce long-term and large-scale degradation in the Hudson Raritan Estuary. 
  • Authorizes construction of the Rahway River Basin Coastal Storm Risk Management project to reduce the risk of damages from flooding in northeastern New Jersey.
  • Authorizes a reevaluation study of the Upper Basin and Stony Brook portions of the Green Brook Flood Risk Management project to determine what features of flood risk management should be implemented in areas that continue to face flood risks.
  • Authorizes construction of the New Jersey Beneficial Use of Dredged Material for the Delaware River project, which will use sand dredged from the Delaware River and Bay to construct beach berms to reduce coastal storm damage. 

Additional information about WRDA 2020, including the bill text, fact sheet, and section-by-section, can be found here.