Washington Update

National Waterways Conference News Alert 
6 June 2014

WRRDA Update

President Obama is expected to sign WRRDA into law in a ceremony in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning.  This marks the first comprehensive water resources law in 7 years.  Our focus will now turn to the development of implementation guidance.

America’s Watershed Initiative Webinar

Yesterday, the America’s Watershed Initiative held a webinar for NWC members on its efforts to develop a report card for the Mississippi River watershed.  Thanks to all of the participants for their thought-provoking comments and questions which will assist in the development of the draft report card.  The powerpoint presentation used in yesterday’s webinar is attached for your reference.  We will keep you apprised of additional workshops on this initiative. 

EPA/Corps Rulemaking on the Waters of the United States

NWC’s Legislative Policy Committee, led by Steven Burns of Balch and Bingham representing Alabama Power, is preparing comments in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking which would expand the jurisdictional reach of those waters covered under the Clean Water Act.  In addition, NWC’s May meeting of the Waterways Alliance featured guest speakers from the Corps and EPA to discuss this topic.    

At this time, the deadline for filing comments is July 21.  We will transmit NWC’s comments to you in sufficient time to allow you to file comments as well, which is strongly recommended.   Several requests to extend the time period by 45 days have been filed with the agencies, and it is likely that an extension will be granted.  We will keep you updated on this proceeding.

Maritime Administration – Marine Highways

The Maritime Administration has issued a notice in the Federal Register, attached for your reference, inviting interested parties to submit Marine Highway project applications to DOT for review and consideration.

The purpose of the call for projects, from June 30 to September 30, is to seek eligible Marine Highway projects that may establish new or enhance existing Marine Highway services. Eligible projects may be designated as Marine Highway Projects by the Secretary of Transportation. Being designated a Marine Highway Project allows Department of Transportation resources to be used to assist public project sponsors, ports, and other local transportation or economic development agencies in the development of Marine Highway projects.                       

Since the last call for Marine Highway projects in 2010, the scope of the Marine Highway Program has been expanded to include all of the United States domestic marine transportation system. The attached notice provides additional background and information.   

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