Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act – $558 Million Bill Approved by Senate

S. 612 Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation (WiiN) Act, S.612, with a vote of 78-21 drew a mix of Republications and Democrats on each side. A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then signed by the President to become law.

As expected, “yea” votes included the Michigan delegation, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters, along with 29 other Democrats.  Other yea votes came from Cory Booker (NJ), Dianne Feinstein (CA) Al Franken (MN), Clinton vice-presidential running mate Tim Kaine (VA), Claire McCaskill (MO) and Barbara Mikulski (MD), among others.

Significant Republican votes for the bill included outgoing New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins (ME), Ted Cruz (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), and Rob Portman (OH).

Among the “nay” votes, in addition to Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were the following Democrats:  Barbara Boxer (CA), Maria Cantwell (WA), Dick Durbin (IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY),  Mazie Hirono (HI), Jeff Merkley(OR), Patty Murray (WA), Jack Reed (RI), Harry Reid (NV), Chuck Schumer (NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI ) and Ron Wyden(OR).

Republicans who voted against the bill were Jeff Flake (AZ), Mike Lee (UT), John McCain (AZ), Rand Paul (KY), Ben Sasse (NE), President-elect Donald Trump’s attorney general pick Jeff Sessions (AL), and Richard Shelby (AL).

 

 

Summary of Provisions S. 612 Water Infrastructure Improvements Act 

Title I: Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

  • Restores certainty to the WRDA process by returning to the two-year cycle of Congressional consideration.
  • Authorizes $10 billion in investment in ports, channels, locks, dams, and other infrastructure that supports the maritime and waterways transportation system and provides flood protection for communities, and authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Reports for water resources infrastructure investment.
  • Strengthens the process for greater local participation in project selection, and empowers non-federal participation in construction and operation and maintenance activities.
  • Requires timely approval for non-federal modifications to Corps of Engineers projects
  • Fully offsets any new authorizations, reduces the inventory of projects, and sheds excess property that is no longer needed

Title II: Water and Waste Act of 2016

  • Empowers small and economically disadvantaged communities to improve their drinking water services, and equips communities to reduce concentrations of lead in drinking water
  • Empowers states by providing flexibility to incorporate underserved communities into drinking water systems, and aids smaller, lower-income communities in water quality testing and compliance
  • Authorizes $170 million (fully offset) for drinking water disaster relief, infrastructure investments and public health responses
  • Requires all public water systems to notify customers if federal drinking water lead levels are exceeded (Similar to HR 4470, which passed the House 416-2)
  • Creates a voluntary program for testing for lead in school and childcare center drinking water
  • Creates a clearinghouse of public information on the cost-effectiveness of alternative drinking water delivery systems
  • Authorizes research on innovative water technologies
  • Establishes state and EPA permit programs for coal combustion residuals and provides states the flexibility for states to develop incorporate the EPA final rule or develop other criteria that are at least as protective as the final rule

Title III: Natural Resources

  • Expedites water storage and delivery and alternative water supply programs in the West to support drought-stricken communities
  • Provides regulatory flexibility to capture more water in existing reservoirs during the wet months in California without changing the Endangered Species Act
  • Authorizes a non-regulatory program for watersheds in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
  • Enhances environmental restoration and forest management activities in the Lake Tahoe Basin and improves initiatives to benefit fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes
  • Limits the increase of permit fees for cabins and trailers on certain Bureau of Reclamation lands and enhances recreational opportunities in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Improves flood mitigation and dam safety needs for Indian communities
  • Settles water rights disputes with the Pechanga Tribe, the Choctaw Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, and the Blackfeet Tribe.

 

FEB 27, 2015
Introduced

This is the first step in the legislative process.

APR 29, 2015
Reported by Committee

A committee has issued a report to the full chamber recommending that the bill be considered further. Only about 1 in 4 bills are reported out of committee.

MAY 21, 2015
Passed Senate

The bill was passed in a vote in the Senate. It goes to the House next. The vote was by Unanimous Consent so no record of individual votes was made.

DEC 8, 2016
Passed House

The bill was passed by both chambers in identical form. It goes to the President next who may sign or veto the bill.

DEC 8, 2016
Text Published

Updated bill text was published as of Passed the House (Engrossed) with an Amendment.

Signed by the President

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