Farrell Says New Waterways Bill Is 'Major Step Forward' Toward Rebuilding Nation's Infrastructure
Following Congressional passage of The Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 6), on October 17, Joe Farrell, president of The American Waterways Operators (AWO), said that "This first omnibus waterways bill in 16 years is a remarkable achievement. The development of this legislation is the result of a constructive compromise between a large number of parties that have traditionally been warring with one another for many years.
"It is a major step forward when the House, the Senate, the Administration, municipalities, states, the Army, environmentalists, shippers, water carriers, ports, agricultural interests, and many others, can put together a viable and historic piece of legislation that will affect the future of this country for years to come," he said.
"Not only is this legislation vital to rebuilding the infrastructure of this nation, but its passage is symbolic recognition that the 'pork barrel' image of the waterways industry is dead and buried—forever," Mr. Farrell said.
Mr. Farrell said that the House and Senate conferees on the legislation deserve particular praise for seeing this legislation through what he described as "sometimes very sensitive and difficult negotiations." He singled out for extraordinary praise Rep. Robert A. Roe, Sen.
James Abdnor, respective Chairmen of the House and Senate Water Resources Subcommittees, and Robert K. Dawson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
The result of four years of work, this historic measure authorizes construction of a number of new Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects, and requires that the non-federal beneficiaries of those projects pay a considerable share of the cost of building, operating and maintaining them. The bill authorizes construction or study of a number of new Army Corps of Engineers water projects, including 41 for ports, 7 for '.nland waterways, 113 for flood control, 21 for shoreline protection, and 77 water resource conservation and development projects such as fish and wildlife mitigation projects.
The bill authorizes a total of $16.3 billion for water resource projects, of which $12 billion will be paid by the federal government and $4.3 billion by non-federal interests such as states, localities, port authorities, and commercial navigation companies. Under the bill, the inland waterway lock and dam projects authorized in the legislation will be partially funded with revenues from a user tax on diesel fuel paid by commercial waterway operators. The current user tax on inland waterway operators, which has been in place since 1979, is 10 cents for each gallon of diesel fuel. Under the new bill, this tax will gradually double to 20 cents per gallon.