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Senators To Keep Rolling on the Water Bill

Action continues Tuesday on Senate bill to streamline waterway projects

Published on: May 14, 2013

The Senate on Tuesday continues its consideration of the Water Resources Development Act, a bill that would authorize Army Corps of Engineers projects and overarching river and waterways infrastructure improvements.

Last week, Senators considered several amendments to bill, including one amendment that alters the EPA's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure.

The SPCC rules, which took effect May 10, require farmers storing more than 1,320 gallons of fuel in above-ground tanks and more than 42,000 gallons in below-ground tanks to prepare written storage plans and have them certified by a professional engineer.

Action continues Tuesday on bill to streamline waterway projects
Action continues Tuesday on bill to streamline waterway projects

The WRDA amendment, which was approved unanimously, creates a temporary 6,000 gallon aggregate aboveground oil storage exemption threshold for farms for up to 30 months, pending the completion of a joint EPA - USDA study to set a permanent exemption threshold for farms between 2,500 and 6,000 gallons, based on what constitutes a significant risk of discharge to water and a subsequent rulemaking by EPA, ASA said.

The amendment also permits farms to self-certify their spill prevention plans if their aggregate aboveground oil storage is between 6,000 and 20,000 gallons, ASA added. A professional engineer must certify the plan if the farm has an individual storage tank greater than 10,000 gallons, an aggregate aboveground oil storage greater than or equal to 20,000 gallons, or a reportable oil discharge history.

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Senators also approved an amendment that includes provisions to increase the capacity of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund by taking the Olmsted Lock and Dam project out of the trust fund account. This action would enable funding to go to other waterways infrastructure, including locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River, according to the American Soybean Association.

Additionally, the adopted amendment includes compromise language on the streamlined process for Corps projects, as well as a compromise on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund that would provide, under certain circumstances, increased funding annually for port maintenance and dredging, but not wall-off the trust fund entirely.

Though not yet considered, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is planning to offer an amendment to add provisions of his Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act (S. 565) to WRDA. Much of S. 565 has been incorporated into the WRDA, but Senator Durbin's amendment will add a study of the Mississippi River Basin to the bill. It is intended to help better understand how the Basin functions and how it can be managed to maintain safe and reliable navigation and protect lives and property, especially during times of extreme flooding and drought, ASA said.

Overall, the underlying bill as reported out of committee also includes provisions to wall off the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, thus providing additional funding for port and harbor maintenance and dredging, according to the American Soybean Association.

Neither the underlying bill nor the manager's amendment includes provisions to increase Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues.

News source: ASA