Portman Secures Bipartisan Reforms in Water Resources Development Act

December 5, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced today that bipartisan language he co-authored was included in The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) report released today. These Portman-led reforms aim to end Flint-like water crises, prevent inappropriate disposal of dredged materials from the Cleveland Harbor, and renew the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“We must protect Lake Erie and ensure access to clean drinking water around the country, and this bill makes important progress on both goals,” said Portman.I’m glad my bipartisan initiatives were included in the final package that was announced today. I look forward to the Senate passing this important legislation and the President signing it into law as quickly as possible so we can protect our Great Lakes and ensure that every American has access to clean water.”

The Water Resources Development Act conference report includes the following Portman-led initiatives:

  • The legislation includes language that would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from determining that dredged material is safe to dump into Lake Erie from the Cleveland Harbor dredging project unless the Ohio EPA agrees. It ensures that the Army Corps of Engineers complies with state water quality standards when determining the Federal Standard for disposing of dredged material. 
  • The measure reauthorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). GLRI is a results-driven program to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination. The legislation authorizes GLRI to receive $300 million a year, which is $50 million more than President Obama requested in his budget.  Portman helped develop this legislation with Senator Mark Kirk.
  • The legislation includes a bipartisan compromise to end the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which will provide $170 million for states, including Ohio, to address lead in our water supply, improve all forms of water infrastructure, and fund health programs to treat lead exposure. Portman helped developed this bipartisan compromise with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Gary Peters (D-MI). 
  • The legislation requires the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study on the final flood control, ecosystem restoration, and recreation components of Cincinnati Riverfront Park. This will authorize an additional $30 million to complete the park if the study determines the components are feasible.
  • The final bipartisan Portman reform included is the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which he worked on with Senator Amy Klobuchar. This legislation provides critical resources to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes. The legislation would authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to partner with other federal agencies, states, and tribes to develop and execute proposals for the restoration of fish and wildlife resources in the Great Lakes Basin. The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act serves an important role in implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and will renew continued cooperative efforts to address impacts associated with invasive species throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

NOTE: Portman has championed numerous pieces of legislation to protect and preserve clean drinking water and the health of Lake Erie. Portman, received a Clean Water Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for his efforts, and has worked diligently to make drinking water safe for all Ohioans, protect Lake Erie from dredged materials, harmful algal blooms, harmful plastic microbeads and invasive species, and more