President Obama signs the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act

Posted in: Environmental, Infrastructure, Water

wiin-act-300x279pxPresident Obama has signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act (S. 612) into law. The WIIN Act includes three Titles: Title I – Water Resources Development Act of 2016, Title II – Water and Waste Act of 2016, Title III – Natural Resources, and Title IV – Other Matters.

I spent some time over the past couple days going through the WIIN Act. It has many items of interest for dam safety, hydropower and water resource engineers.

Title I (Water Resources Development Act of 2016) returns some certainty to the WRDA processes of two-year cycles between water resources development acts. In addition to numerous general provisions, WRDA authorizes numerous studies including a flood risk management study in my own hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Title I also contains numerous specific project de-authorizations and modifications. The modifications include land and easement transfers. The overall intent of these provisions is to reduce the inventory of projects that are not needed for the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ missions, to offset new authorizations, to reduce backlog and to save taxpayers’ money. Finally, Title I contains numerous new project authorizations, including eight new navigation projects totaling $3.84 billion, eight flood risk reduction projects totaling $3.26 billion, six hurricane and storm damage risk reduction projects totaling $1.41 billion, and numerous ecosystem restoration and other projects.

Title II (Water and Waste Act of 2016) makes changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act and Solid Waste Disposal Act to help communities, especially in economically distresses areas pursue better quality drinking water and protect the environment and public health.

Title III (Natural Resources) is focused on policies to improve water storage and addresses drought-stricken communities in California and the West. Other provisions of this title address long-standing water settlement agreements for the benefit of Native Americans, conservation, recreation and overall management of water resources. In particular, Subtitle J – California Water, provides regulatory flexibility to capture more water in existing reservoirs during the wet months in California while not changing the Endangered Species Act.

Finally Title IV (Other Matters) contains a variety of miscellaneous provisions including the rehabilitation of state-regulated non-federal high hazard potential dam. Under this Title, FEMA is directed to establish a program to provide technical, planning, design and construction assistance in the form of grants to non-federal sponsors.

Overall spending a few hours reviewing the WIIN Act of 2016 is worth the effort for the dam or water resources professional interested in identifying future opportunities.

Miro Kurka, PE, PMP

About the Author

Miro Kurka, PE, PMP, knows water is an incredible resource. “I help resolve issues that prevent us from engineering water infrastructure that would make our citizens safer, wealthier and happier.” A retired US Army officer, he managed the Corps of Engineers’ program in Tulsa, Portland and Afghanistan for 30 years, bridging gaps, overcoming obstacles and tackling large challenges. He loves traveling and meeting people.

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