(Washington) -- Legislation impacting future flood control measures has made its way through the U.S. House.
Recently, the House unanimously passed the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA of 2020. Among other components, the bill authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood prevention projects, and addresses water management issues. Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne was among the bill's supporters. Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program recently, the West Des Moines Democrat says the measure includes numerous priorities.
"Some of the key provisions include new authority for the corps of engineers to address the needs of communities facing repeated flooding--like Hamburg," said Axne. "It increases funding authority for a levee here in the Des Moines area that's consistently flooding a community along the Des Moines River. It increases adjustments for federal cross share of inland waterways projects to help us develop critical infrastructure that's necessary, and it directs the army corps of engineers to complete the comprehensive lower Missouri River Basin study that will benefit the state of Iowa."
Also included is a provision allowing the corps new authority to provide federal funds for levees in communities devastated by past flooding--including in 2019. Axne, along with Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, pushed for the amendment's inclusion.
"We're not going to have to deal with red tape bureaucracy of tearing down a levee that's protecting a town, just because it doesn't meet some authority," she said. "We're going to keep people say, and overcome some of those--I'll be honest--stupid rules that have been created. And, that helps us address that. So, I was thrilled to see as a piece of it."
Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves was another key supporter of the bill. Ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Graves recently told KMA News the measure would help spur the resiliency of communities still recovering from the Missouri River flooding of 2019...
"Now, we're in the situation where they build back to the same levels every time," said Graves. "Then, they have to turn right back around, and do it again. This is going to allow us some latitude on this. It prohibitions the construction of what we call Interception Rearing Complexes--or IRCs. These are habitat development experiments that have been proven not to work, and they create problems when it comes to management of the river for us as individuals. So, we have put a prohibition on any more of those being constructed."
Graves says the bill also contains provisions allowing for the construction of stronger levees, providing more protection for areas struck by floodwaters last year.
"We've allowed for non-federal levees, the corps to be able to come in, and provide assistance in fixing those levees," he said, "because it is a system up and down. And, if you only have part of our levees in, and part of them aren't in, because they're not federal levees, then you're still going to flood. It's going to flood right behind the non-federal levees, and create the same problems."
The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.