Capito Says WIIN Act Addresses Water Infrastructure in Commonsense Bipartisan Way

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) says recent passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation will modernize water infrastructure and address flood prevention.

“Of particular importance to West Virginia, this bill gives states authority and certainty when regulating coal ash, calls for a study of flood-risk management projects within the Kanawha River Basin, authorizes funding for the high hazard dams across West Virginia that are important to the state’s economy and addresses drinking water infrastructure issues,” Capito told The West Virginia Record.

Specifically, The WIIN Act includes several bipartisan provisions that include the authorization of $445 million over 10 years to fund a Federal Emergency Management Agency program for the rehabilitation of high-hazard potential dams, including 422 dams in the state.

“The WIIN Act invests in critical water infrastructure, including waterways, flood protection and other resources, in a commonsense, bipartisan way,” Capito said.

In addition, the act also directs the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct studies on the feasibility of implementing projects within the Kanawha River Basin for flood risk management and other water-resource related purposes. Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) authored this provision.

Under the act, the Environmental Protection Agency has authorization to review and approve state permitting programs for coal ash disposal units. The agency currently cannot approve these programs, but the Water Resources Development Act “fills that gap, benefiting utilities, states and the environment by authorizing state oversight of coal ash disposal,” the senator’s office said in a statement.

Also, the WIIN Act prevents delays in other inland waterways projects while other projects are completed and requires studies by the Army Corps of Engineers to include a review of the economic and recreational significance and impacts at the national, state or local levels, the statement reports.

The full impact of Army Corps of Engineers facilities must be understood before making any decision to dispose of them under the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act.

“These important projects will bring vitality to our economy and support needed improvements in communities across the country,” Capito said.

The bill passed the Senate on a 78-21 vote on Dec. 10 and includes the Water Resources Development Act, which passed the Senate earlier this year.

The Water Resources Development Act, passed in September, modernizes water infrastructure, addresses flood prevention and mitigation and meets environmental restoration needs.

“(The bill) will bring short- and long-term gains to our economy and support needed infrastructure improvements in West Virginia and in communities around the country,” Capito said in a statement released following passage of the Water Resources Development Act.

The provisions included in the Water Resources Development Act include a study of flood-risk management projects within the Kanawha River Basin, funding to address the high-hazard potential dams, an amendment recognizing the importance of recreational use of locks along the Monongahela River for recreation and a provision addressing drinking water infrastructure, which examines issues like those that followed a 2014 Elk River spill.

By:  Carrie Salls
Source: West Virginia Record