House Passes $20B Water Projects Bill

After seven years of deliberation, the House passed a landslide vote approving a $20 Billion dollar water bill that will be devoted to the nation’s water resource needs.  This bill will fund the restoration of wetlands in New Orleans, the addition of wastewater treatment plants, improved stormwater management and overall restoration of environmental damage, among other goals.  The bill promises to organize water policies and get them in place and on track after a history of neglect.  The 381-40 vote sent a resounding message regarding the need for improvements in the system.

Read on below for the full story courtesy of the Raleigh News & Observer.

House passes $20B water projects bill

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The House overwhelmingly passed a $20 billion water projects bill Wednesday night despite a promised veto by President Bush, who complains the bill is laden with costly pet projects and shifts new costs onto the government.

“I regret that we’re in this situation. But we’re going to have to do what we have to do,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., rallying support for a bill loaded with Army Corps of Engineers projects such as restoring wetlands in coastal Louisiana, improving hurricane protection in New Orleans and adding new drinking water and wastewater treatment plants.

Shepherded by Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the bill was seven years in the making and finally passed the House on a 381-40 vote after it was agreed upon by House-Senate negotiators. He said he expected Congress would quickly override any veto by the president.

“There is urgent, pent-up demand to address the nation’s water resources needs,” Oberstar said. “Divide the cost by the number of years that have passed since we last passed this critical legislation, and the cost is understandable.”

Earlier Wednesday, administration officials said Bush will veto the bill if it isn’t pared down. “Indeed, it seems a $14 billion Senate bill went into a conference with the House’s $15 billion bill and somehow a bill emerged costing approximately $20 billion,” complained White House budget director Rob Portman and Assistant Army Secretary John Paul Woodley Jr.

This year’s bill includes some $3.5 billion for Katrina-damaged Louisiana, plus more than $2 billion for projects in California and $2 billion for Florida, mostly for restoring the Everglades. Another $1.95 billion is included for seven new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers and $1.7 billion for repairing the region’s ecology. Any restorations at your household may be done via Water Mold Fire Restoration of Houston.

To read the full article on the N&O website, please click here.