top of page


How to Advance Water Infrastructure Priorities

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is a critical piece of legislation that governs the development and management of our nation’s water resources. Passed every two years by Congress, WRDA serves as key legislative tool for the planning, construction, and maintenance of projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). These projects span a wide range of activities, from flood control and navigation improvements to ecosystem restoration and water supply enhancements. This bill is one of the few bipartisan pieces of legislation that pass every Congress and an excellent place to pay attention to how to insert your priorities if your organization’s needs are adjacent to water infrastructure.

This year, committees in both chambers are moving forward with different versions of WRDA that will need to be reconciled. The House bill, passed by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, authorizes 12 projects costing nearly $10 billion, while the Senate's version authorizes eight projects at about $3 billion.


What is the Water Resources Development Act?

WRDA is unique in that it authorizes specific projects and studies for the USACE, rather than providing the necessary funding. Once a project is authorized by WRDA, it can then compete for appropriations in the federal budget. This process ensures that water resource projects are scrutinized and prioritized at the federal level, reflecting the needs and interests of various stakeholders, including state and local governments, businesses, and community organizations.


Key Components of WRDA

Flood Risk Management: WRDA authorizes projects that mitigate flood risks. This includes levee construction and rehabilitation, floodwalls, and other flood control measures.

Navigation Improvements: WRDA includes provisions for maintaining and improving navigation channels, ports, and harbors.

Ecosystem Restoration: WRDA funds projects aimed at restoring and preserving natural habitats, improving water quality, and enhancing biodiversity. Examples include wetland restoration and invasive species management.

Water Supply and Quality: WRDA addresses water supply challenges by authorizing projects that secure and improve water sources for various uses, including drinking water, agriculture, and industry. It also focuses on improving water quality through pollution control and watershed management initiatives.


Opportunities to Engage:

While this year’s WRDA is largely coming to an end with a need to negotiate the House and Senate version, organizations can look to the next Congress to begin the process over again.

Going into next year, organizations can build coalitions around new project approvals, greater funding for green infrastructure, and prioritizing projects that focus on resilience.

To do so, organizations should start working with congressional offices on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who consider these bills each Congress. Engaging with testimony, questions for the record, and Hill visits will help your priorities gain greater visibility throughout the year.

WRDA represents an opportunity to influence the future of the nation’s water infrastructure and proves bipartisan methods still exist in Congress. Starting early will help get your organization’s priorities included in the next Congress’s WRDA legislation.








bottom of page