News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) voted to address critical water resource needs in Washington state by supporting reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) H.R. 1495. WRDA authorizes the projects and policies of the Civil Works program of the Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation has a significant impact on the economy, public safety, infrastructure and environment of Washington state. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 91-4.

"This bill addresses critical water resource and infrastructure needs in Washington state," said Senator Murray. "As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, addressing our nation's infrastructure can be a matter of life and death. I've worked to ensure this bill meets the needs of our region by lifting restrictions on hopper dredges, addressing the growing backlog of permit applications, and including a study on the seismic needs of the Elliot Bay seawall."

Hopper Dredges

"In the Northwest, our waterways play a critical role and keeping them properly maintained and dredged is a top priority. Unfortunately today, an outdated federal restriction prevents us from dredging our channels when they need to be dredged. This bill will lift the antiquated and arbitrary restrictions on the West Coast hopper dredges so they can operate more than 200 days each year. The current policy ignores the regional differences on the West Coast. We should dredge our channels when they need to be dredged, not freeze our work because of outdated federal limits. The public paid for these dredges, their job is to keep public channels clear, and we should use them as they're needed. I'm pleased that by lifting the artificial restriction we'll be able to use the two West Coast dredges to their best economic use."

Permit Backlog (Section 214)

"As we work to address the flood control, navigation, public safety and economic needs of the Northwest, we are hampered by long delays in reviewing permits. This backlog costs local governments millions of dollars and delays needed improvements. This bill takes a provision from the last enacted WRDA and makes it permanent. Known as Section 214, the provision allows an Army Corps of Engineers district to hire additional personnel to review specific and time-consuming permit applications. This frees up the existing Army Corps staff in that district to focus on the growing backlog of permit applications."

Elliot Bay Seawall

"In Seattle, the Elliot Bay Seawall is a critical part of our region's infrastructure and has a direct impact on public safety and transportation. Over the past 70 years, the seawall has become vulnerable because of erosion and earthquake damage. Currently, we're in the process of rehabilitating the seawall. This bill authorizes a study to examine the feasibility of reducing future damage to the seawall from seismic activity."

In addition to the major projects listed above, WRDA also:

  • Removes restrictions on the use of the Lower Granite Pool in Whitman County and the Port of Clarkston;

  • Authorizes siltation study at the Ports of Chinook and Ilwaco;

  • Helps reduce flood damage on the Chehalis River near Centralia, Washington;

  • Protects Puget Island in the Columbia River, and Allows tribes to use in-kind contributions for the Walla Walla Basin study.