An awful lot of economic activity takes place on America’s waterways and Congress came together last week to make sure it continues by passing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Properly maintaining and investing in America’s water infrastructure is critical considering that each year:
- More than 600 million tons of cargo valued at more than $236B move on our inland waterways; and
- Approximately $1.4T worth of goods move through American ports.
The Partnership actively advocated for the passage of WRDA through its work with the Great Lakes Metro Chamber Coalition. This legislation allocates $1.5 billion over the next 5 years for water and shoreline projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Locally, the GLRI has spent more than $40 million in federal funding to Western New York to support projects since 2010.
WRDA also ensures funding remains stable for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). Money from this fund typically finances commercial and recreational harbor dredging projects, including recent work along Lake Ontario’s shoreline. In addition, WRDA makes permanent the allocation of 10% of annual priority HMTF spending for the Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS), the system of five Great Lakes, their connecting channels, and the St. Lawrence River.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for completing much of the infrastructure work funded through WRDA, and now this same legislation is also funding a new Buffalo District headquarters office for the Army Corps. The Buffalo office, with a staff of 275, covers a territory that stretches from Messena, New York to Toledo, Ohio. Currently located on Niagara Street, the new Buffalo District office will remain along the Blackrock waterfront.