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Phyllis Harden

Legislative & Special Projects, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel
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Water Resources Investment

Increase Funding for Water Resources Programs of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation

Background:

  • Our nation's water resources are critical to our economy, our infrastructure, public safety, and the preservation and enhancement of our environmental resources. Much of our water infrastructure is aging, compromising its ability to meet the needs for which it was created. With a commitment from Congress to a plan that increases funding for its civil works program over the next five years, critical water resources projects could be executed at levels that will eliminate the backlog of projects and meet the nation's water resource needs.

AGC Message:

  • Preserve the Increase Civil Works Funding to at Least $7.0 Billion for FY 2011. With each passing day, the inability of our nation's aging infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing population further threatens our economy. To complete ongoing infrastructure projects in a timely and efficient manner and to save future costly repairs by adequately addressing the existing backlog of critical deferred maintenance, Civil Works funding must increase to at least $7.0 billion for FY 2011. In subsequent years, annual increases of at least $400-600 million will be required to reduce the "benefits foregone," keep the Civil Works program on schedule and save the nation the costs of paying for more expensive "crisis" repairs in the future.
  • Increase Funding For Bureau of Reclamation to at Least $1.2 Billion for FY 2011. The Bureau has a broad portfolio of responsibilities for natural resource management. Additional funding would allow the agency to address aging water resource facilities and to make significant progress on environmental restoration, irrigation structures, water recycling, and rural drinking water systems. As with providing additional funding for the Corps of Engineers, additional funding for the Bureau of Reclamation could be put to use over the next two years to put shovels in the ground, fortifying critical pieces of infrastructure and creating good-paying construction jobs that would stimulate the economy.
  • Eliminate the Infrastructure Investment Gap. In recent years, national investment in water resources projects has not kept pace with the level of economic and social expansion. Over the last 30 years, the U.S. population has increased more than 40 percent while GDP has grown from $2.5 to $7.5 trillion. Capital investment in public water resources infrastructure, however, has decreased by 70 percent. The combination of an expanding population and economy coupled with a decline in infrastructure investment has created a substantial investment gap.
  • The Need for Investment. In 2009, ASCE estimates that $2.2 trillion needs to be invested over five years to bring the condition of the nation's infrastructure up to a good condition - an increase of more than half a trillion dollars since the 2005 Report Card's estimate of $1.6 trillion. This number, adjusted for a 3% rate of inflation, represents capital spending at all levels of government and includes what is already being spent. Current spending amounts to only about half of the needed investment, which means the U.S. must invest an additional $1.1 billion over the next five years.
  • Restructure Continuing Contracts To Improve Project Delivery And Reduce Costs. Congress should agree to fully fund all Civil Works projects under $40 million in FY 2011 and $60 million in FY 2012. Absent fully funding all navigation and waterways projects, a fair and equitable continuing contracts clause is necessary to finance multi-year projects.
  • Allow New Construction Starts. We urge the removal of the prohibition on "new starts" in future Appropriations bills. We believe this is not in the best interest of the Corps' work on our waterways, flood control needs and ecosystems restoration. The Congress took a strong stand and made a serious commitment to the American people when it voted to override President Bush's veto of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act and authorized over $23 billion in new projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is time to meet that commitment by addressing this backlog of funding needs and provide additional funding for this critically important program. However, not moving on new projects, that have been authorized, will stop the Corps from addressing pressing needs.
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