The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on January 12 with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to discuss current and future water infrastructure projects and priorities. The hearing focused on oversight of the 2022 Water Resources Development Act, which provides funding for a majority of USACE’s civil water projects.
The USACE is the nation’s leading water resource agency operating water supply, hydropower, and drought and flood risk programs. While the USACE is expected receive more than $80 billion in funding for projects in the next five years, its current backlog of projects is valued at much more than $100 billion.
In his opening statement, Delaware Senator Tom Carper (D) stated, “While the additional funding offered by the bipartisan infrastructure bill will not completely wipe out this back log of projects, it is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Prior to the meeting, NGWA submitted a letter to committee leadership and the USACE advocating for the support of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) funding, especially in western reclamation states. In 2020, the USACE issued a report highlighting the growing importance MAR projects will play in national water security and resilience.
From the NGWA letter: “By investing in underground water storage, you create the opportunity to use safe natural resources to store and protect water supplies in a more resilient way with a fraction of the environmental impact and cost of conventional surface water sources such as dams. Additionally, further investment in MAR projects ensures that our nation’s agricultural industry remains strong and productive, given its significant reliance on groundwater.”
During the hearing, Carper reinforced this message speaking on the importance of utilizing natural infrastructure — such as aquifers — to address climate issues.
“Incorporating natural infrastructure into resiliency efforts has been and continues to be a critical element of long-term water solutions,” Carper said.