Bipartisan bill includes Klobuchar’s priorities to provide critical resources and funding to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes, require the use of American iron and steel in all projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and to establish a voluntary school and child care lead testing program
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that several of her key priorities passed the Senate today as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016. The bipartisan bill includes Klobuchar’s provision to provide critical resources and funding to conserve fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes, and priorities that require the use of American iron and steel in all projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and establish a voluntary school and child care lead testing program, among others.
“Our 21st century economy demands 21st century infrastructure, and that requires investments in our waterways, like the all-important Great Lakes,” Klobuchar said. “That’s why I fought hard to include provisions that will protect and restore fish and wildlife habitats in the Great Lakes. This bill supports water infrastructure projects that will boost our economy and help ensure that our children’s drinking water is safe and free of lead. Now, the House should quickly pass this bill so that it can be signed into law.”
Klobuchar’s priorities in the bipartisan water infrastructure bill agreement include:
• Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act: The legislation, which Klobuchar introduced along with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), would reauthorize the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. It would allow grant recipients to use the value of donated land and conservation easements as part of the non-federal cost share.
• Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Klobuchar’s provision authorizes $300 million a year for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021, for a total of $1.5 billion, for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
• Buy American: Adds a requirement for the use of American iron and steel in all projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
• Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for Great Lakes Ports: Klobuchar’s provision makes permanent priority funding from the HMTF, including priority funding for Great Lakes ports.
• Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Funding: Removes the pilot designation for WIFIA, which provides loans and loan guarantees for flood control, water supply, and wastewater infrastructure projects. It would also provide $70 million in WIFIA credit subsidies with the goal of obligating at least $700 million in secured financing for water infrastructure projects across the country. WIFIA is a new financing mechanism for water infrastructure projects created in the 2014 WRDA bill but never funded. It is modeled on the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
• Lead Testing in School and Child Care Drinking Water Grant Program: Authorizes $20 million a year for fiscal years 2017 through 2021, totaling $100 million, for grants to carry out a voluntary school and child care lead testing program.
As one of the vice-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Klobuchar is a leading advocate for the protection of the Great Lakes. She has worked to bolster pollution clean-up efforts in the Great Lakes, prevent diversions of Great Lakes water out of the region, and establish new water conservation and environmental protection standards in the Great Lakes area. She has also fought to keep aquatic invasive species out of Minnesota’s river and lakes, including authoring legislation to help fight the spread of invasive carp that was signed into law in 2014.