On Wednesday, September 11th, U.S. Congressman and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) released the House’s version of a water infrastructure bill that could include projects vital to development in Georgia, including the deepening of the port of Savannah. To see a copy of the bill, click HERE.
Representative Shuster released an informational video this past week explaining the House version of the bill and why it is so crucial to the daily lives of Americans. To see the video, click HERE.
Georgia survived a nail biting fight in the United States Senate this past May with the passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The Water Resources Development Act is important to the state for several reasons, most importantly the language allowing the deepening of the Savannah Harbor to begin. Congress has a set price in which project costs must fall under in order to be authorized, but the price ceiling for projects of this nature was mandated years ago and has not been adjusted for inflation. The WRDA bill passed by the Senate increases accessibility and if passed with current language regarding the port, will allow for the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the harbor deepening.
The House version of the bill added the word “Reform” to the bill’s name, making its title the “Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013” (WRRDA). Representative Shuster and other Republicans have expressed some concerns over the Senate bill, particularly the amount of authority given to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to select investment projects. Despite these concerns, however, the introduction of a House version of a water infrastructure bill is a great step forward towards necessary progress in the nation’s water infrastructure, including the deepening of the Savannah harbor.
If the Savannah Harbor, currently 43 feet deep, is dredged to 47 feet – a depth more conducive for super sized container vessels – the deepening project will account for an estimated 352,000 jobs annually, $66.9 billion in revenue, $18.5 billion in income, and $2.5 billion in taxes. The deepening of the harbor has been regarded as a crucial element to greater efficiency and economic growth for the state of Georgia by policymakers and elected officials. The project was approved by the Federal Government last year, but has yet to receive adequate funding. The passage of the WRDA in the Senate and the introduction of the WRRDA House bill brings Georgia two steps closer to completing the project, which has been named a top priority by Republican Governor Nathan Deal and Democratic Mayor Kasim Reed.
Georgia Congressman Doug Collins (R) expressed his support for the House bill, stating: “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass a WRRDA bill that streamlines the approval process for our nation’s critical infrastructure progress. Cutting the red tape and removing the backlog of projects is important and Chairman Shuster has presented a bill that allows Georgia to move forward with long-term plans for our water resources as we continue to invest in our future. Along with water supply planning, the improvements to the Port of Savannah in WRRDA will help Georgia remain among the nation’s leaders in economic development.”