Building on Recent Momentum, Congress Sends Major Water Infrastructure Package to President’s Desk

Sullivan: “Improving our inadequate and deteriorating infrastructure should not be a partisan issue, it should be an issue that unites us”

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), is applauding the Senate’s passage of S. 3021, the America's Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, the fourth major piece of bipartisan legislation to make its way to the President’s desk in recent days. The bill was approved today by vote of 99-1 and now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“Improving our inadequate and deteriorating infrastructure should not be a partisan issue, it should be an issue that unites us,” said Senator Sullivan. “In Alaska, these types of investments and reforms are critical not only for the health and well-being of our communities, but also for important economic activities and areas of national security. This comprehensive water resources bill builds upon previous efforts in Congress to rebuild and expand America’s infrastructure, including clean water systems, port maintenance and development, and so much more. Importantly, it includes several key provisions vital to Alaska, including relief for the community of Saint Paul, new authority for tribal consortiums in Alaska to develop water infrastructure projects as non-federal sponsors, language to expedite completion of a feasibility study for the Deep Water Arctic Port at Nome, and other provisions to ensure the federal government realizes its responsibility to provide basic infrastructure for its citizens.”

AWIA 2018 provisions championed for Alaska by Senator Sullivan include:

  • Saint Paul Harbor: A resolution to a longstanding cost-sharing error against the City of Saint Paul, AK.  Following completion of construction of the St. Paul Harbor in 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers failed to administratively close out the project in a timely manner.  This resulted in a retroactive change to the local non-federal match from 10% to 35%.  The error threatened the viability of the community and undermined close to four decades of coordinated federal, congressional, state, private, CDQ, and local efforts to develop a fisheries-based economy on Saint Paul Island.  
  • Alaska Native Authorities: Ensures tribes, tribal consortiums, as well as Alaska Native Corporations, are on equal footing with tribes in the lower 48 for participation as non-federal sponsors on projects.
  • Seward’s Lowell Creek Flood Diversion System:  Expedited completion of the Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study to replace the Lowell Creek Flood Diversion System in Seward, and a report on the maintenance responsibility until a viable alternative is constructed.
  • Continuing Authorities Program: Increases total amount of funding authorized for the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP), a national program designed to undertake small localized navigation projects without being encumbers by the lengthy study and authorization phases typical of most Corps projects. Due to the high cost of construction in remote areas of Alaska, and the high demand for navigation projects, the CAP is critical to future projects.
  • Non-Federal Cost Share Agreements: Requires the Corps to provide a report to Congress within one year that considers ways in which the Corps can improve and expedite the waiver process for non-Federal cost share agreements. This will be especially important for communities with no economic base, where it can be difficult or impossible to raise this non-Federal match.
  • Mahoney Lake Hydroelectric Project Licensing Act: Includes legislation authored by the Alaska delegation to allow for a stay of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hydroelectric license for the Mahoney Lake hydroelectric project near Ketchikan for up to 10 years. This extends the ability of the project sponsor to consider and complete the hydroelectric development.

Read the text of America’s Water Infrastructure Act here and a section-by-section of the legislation here.