Bipartisan Water Resources Bill Headed to the President's Desk; Barrasso provisions included in bill will help prevent floods in Wyoming, cuts wasteful spending and protects Wyoming’s water rights.

May 22, 2014 WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, praised the Senate for passing the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) by a vote of 91 to 7. WRRDA authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to improve and maintain dams, inland waterways, ports, and projects to prevent flooding and ensure water delivery to communities. “The Senate and House came together this week to pass a strong, bipartisan bill that helps rural water users in Wyoming and across the country,” said Barrasso. “In addition to saving lives and property from flood and drought, this bill cuts wasteful spending and protects Wyoming’s water rights.  I’m proud to have been a part of this bipartisan process and I look forward to the President signing this important piece of legislation into law immediately.”Barrasso, a member of the Conference Committee on WRRDA, successfully included provisions to the final bill that will:cut waste in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget, restore important stream gauges that monitor flooding and drought, provide funding for rural communities to comply with federal regulations,and protect Wyoming water rights and give communities and tribes access to water project financing.  

The House of Representatives passed WRRDA on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 by a vote of 412-4. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Background on the Barrasso Provisions Included in Final WRRDA Agreement:Deauthorization Process – Senator Barrasso authored and secured language that will set up a process that will allow for an up or down vote in Congress on cutting $18 billion in projects supplied by the head of the Army Corps after a public comment period. $18 billion is more than enough to offset the total, entire authorization of this piece of legislation.Upper Missouri Basin Flood and Drought Monitoring – Senator Barrasso secured language that authorizes the Secretary, in coordination with NOAA, NRCS, USGS, and the Bureau of Reclamation, to restore the stream gauges and snow pack monitors through the Upper Missouri Basin.  These gauges are used to monitor snow depth and soil moisture to help inform agencies like the Corps as to potential flooding and drought. Rural Water Technical Assistance – Senator Barrasso authored and secured technical assistance funding to help rural communities comply with environmental regulations.  Rural communities often do not have the expertise or funding to make important upgrades to their water systems as a result of environmental mandates.  It also reauthorizes a regional program in Idaho, Montana, rural Nevada, New Mexico, rural Utah, and Wyoming to provide water infrastructure assistance to communities in these states.  Protecting Wyoming Water Rights – Senator Barrasso secured language to protect Wyoming water rights in the Northern Rockies Headwaters Extreme weather title.  This section allows environmental groups to apply for funding to manage “instream flows restoration projects” and do “floodplain restoration” along the headwaters of the Columbia, Missouri, and Yellowstone Rivers and their tributaries. Barrasso secured language that states that “Nothing in this section invalidates, preempts, or creates any exception to State water law, State water rights, or Federal or State permitted activities or agreements in the States of Idaho and Montana, or any State containing tributaries to rivers in those States.”Helping Communities Secure Water Project Financing – Senator Barrasso secured language to make communities and tribes eligible for loans that can go to repairing and replacing of an aging water distribution facility or a community water system.