WCI hails passage of waterway improvements act

The following is the text of a news release from the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):

(WASHINGTON) — The Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) on Saturday commended the work of Congress to pass the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, of which the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 2016) is included, by a vote of 78 to 21 during the lame duck session. WIIN/WRDA authorizes Army Corps of Engineers' work on locks and dams, dredging and other water resources projects.  

WCI applauded the efforts of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led by Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and ranking member Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., along with House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Chairman Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, and ranking member Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif. WCI also praised the leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. David Vitter, R-La.​

WIIN/WRDA 2016 includes WCI’s key request to authorize inland navigation projects based on final chief’s reports for Calcasieu Lock (Louisiana), the Upper Ohio Navigation System (Pennsylvania), and deepening of Brazos Island Harbor in Texas (Brownsville Ship Channel). The bill did not contain a public-private partnership (P3) provision that could have allowed for the collection of tolls or lockage fees on tributary waterways. WCI stakeholder resistance successfully helped to defeat this onerous proposal from becoming part of WIIN/WRDA 2016. The return to a regular, biennial process for water resources legislation was also hailed by WCI. 

“An efficient, modern, reliable inland waterways transportation system is critical to our nation’s towboat operators, shippers, farmers, ports, and labor and conservation groups. The passage of the strong policy recommendations in WIIN/WRDA 2016 will help to create and sustain American jobs, increase exports, and strengthen the United States’ competitiveness in world markets,” said Michael Toohey, WCI president and CEO.     

Waterways Council Inc. is the national public policy organization advocating for a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways. The group is supported by waterways carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor and conservation organizations, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups from all regions of the country.

By Professional Mariner Staff