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DeFazio-led Bipartisan Water Resources Development Act Passes House of Representatives

Dec 8, 2020
Press Release
Bill provides funding for improvements to SW Oregon ports & waterways

Today, the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA 2020), legislation led by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio, unanimously passed the House.

This legislation provides for improvements to Oregon and the nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources infrastructure.

“I am pleased that today the House once again passed a bipartisan WRDA bill,” said Chair DeFazio. “One of my top priorities in Congress has been strengthening the small ports and harbors that are the lifeblood of Oregon’s coastal communities. By increasing funding for small harbors, WRDA 2020 makes sure that maintenance dredging and other projects like the Coos Bay North Jetty repair project are well-funded, ensuring the safety of our mariners and preserving the viability of our ports. Additionally, this bill takes serious action to protect and restore the habitat of endangered salmon and steelhead by directly investing in habitat restoration, protecting water in the Willamette Basin exclusively for conservation purposes, and finding ways to restore salmon access to pristine spawning territory above Cougar and Detroit Dams. This important legislation will help unleash the full potential of our nation’s ports and harbors, protect our communities and environment, sustain U.S. jobs, and provide critical authorizations and improvements to Corps projects.”

WRDA 2020 includes numerous provisions that benefit southwestern Oregon including:

  • Increasing by 50% funding to small harbors, like the Port of Gold Beach and Port of Siuslaw, and allowing harbor maintenance funds to be used for the dredging of adjacent marinas and the repair of breakwaters and jetties;
  • Directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide further information on design solutions for the Port of Port Orford Breakwater, which has contributed to shoaling at the port;
  • Expediting a study of siltation at the Port of Bandon to improve navigation and safety;
  • Authorizing a new program for ecosystem restoration to benefit salmon and steelhead and giving these projects equal priority to other ecosystem restoration projects;
  • Expediting the completion of the 42nd Street Levee project in Springfield;
  • Studying the removal of power generation at Detroit and Cougar Dams to reduce costs to public power agencies and potentially open miles of pristine salmon habitat upstream of the dams;
  • Allocating water stored in the Willamette Basin dams to meet the needs of agriculture, municipal, and conservation uses for the next 50 years; and
  • Transferring ownership of the Leaburg Fish Hatchery on the McKenzie River to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As Chair, DeFazio successfully negotiated a provision that ensures the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will expedite much-needed repairs to the Port of Coos Bay North Jetty system, a critical waterway in southwest Oregon.

Full bill text, a section-by-section, and a fact sheet can be found here, here, and here. For video of Chair DeFazio’s floor speech on WRDA 2020, click here.