The House today unanimously passed the final Water Resources Development Act of 2020, which contained several provisions to benefit Arizona that were championed by Rep. Greg Stanton – including $150 million for a new Arizona-centered environmental infrastructure program that the first-term congressman has been pushing for more than 18 months.
The new measure is based off of Stanton’s bill H.R. 2206, the Environmental Infrastructure Assistance Act, and will help local governments better meet their infrastructure needs and protect water supplies by providing financial assistance for water-related infrastructure projects. Local projects could include water supply, storage, and treatment; surface water protection, and wastewater treatment and related facilities.
The legislation has earned widespread support from communities across the state, water associations, and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
“In Arizona, water is essential to our way of life, and the Water Resources Development Act ensures we have the resources we need to invest in our desert state’s future,” said Stanton. “I’m especially proud that this bill includes an initiative that will lift small and rural communities across Arizona that lack the financial resources in their budgets to make much needed repairs or replace their aging infrastructure—and help them get the resources they so desperately need.”
The larger bipartisan legislation authorizes funding for water resources projects through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is the result of months of negotiations between the House and Senate.
Stanton, the only member representing Arizona on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, fought hard to include projects of significance to Arizona communities in the House-passed version as well as the final negotiated agreement. This final legislation includes several Stanton-backed projects that will make a difference in the state:
- Directs the Corps of Engineers to expedite completion of a report needed to continue construction of the Tres Rios ecosystem restoration project. The Tres Rios Wetlands are a part of Rio Reimagined, an ongoing green infrastructure project along the Rio Salado spearheaded by the late Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ed Pastor. Specifically, the project is designed to provide flood control protection and the use of treated effluent from a regional wastewater treatment facility to restore hydrological connectivity and sustain fish and wildlife habitat.
- Authorization for construction of a flood control project for the Little Colorado River, consisting of new and reconstructed levees to protect the community of Winslow and other parts of Navajo County. The current levee system is at risk of overtopping or failing in a 100-year flood, leaving approximately 2,700 properties and 1,600 structures, including almost all of the community’s critical public facilities—hospitals, schools, nursing homes and utilities—vulnerable. This important project significantly reduces the threat to the community and surrounding areas.
- Directs the Corps to expedite completion of the flood study for the Lower Santa Cruz River. The basin, which includes parts of Pinal County, the City of Maricopa, and the Gila River Indian Community, is one of the fastest growing regions in Arizona. Despite a long history of flooding in the area, no flood control projects have been constructed. Repeated flooding could result in $186 million in damages, according to Army Corps of Engineers estimations.
The package now heads to the Senate for passage before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Full text of the conferenced bill is available here.