The Daily Gazette
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Bipartisan love for water in the House

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly on Wednesday.

Described in a news release from U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, as the water equivalent to the better known surface transportation bill, the act is responsible for providing the oversight and authorization for various projects across the country, which are mostly conducted by the Army Corps of Engineer. There are efforts to mitigate flooding risks, improve drinking water, support water transportation, and protect wildlife, while also strengthening the country's water transportation network.

Included in the proposal are dam safety reforms that Gibson advocated to include. “In a district with significant water interests, this legislation is critical to help prevent flooding and institute important safety improvements and infrastructure projects," he said in a statement.

"My Congressional District is compromised of three watersheds, one of the country’s most important rivers, and communities inside and near flood plain," Gibson said. "All of these interests will benefit from the critical reforms included in this legislation, which also enjoys strong support from the Governor’s office, our family farms, small businesses, and many labor groups."

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, touted the bills positive reception from businesses and labor groups all over the country. He said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated a $32 billion contribution to the state's economy from its waterways and ports, which support more than 150,000 jobs.

“This legislation directly supports thousands of New York jobs and speeds long overdue infrastructure rehabilitation projects that will help grow our economy.” Owens said in a statement. “I am pleased the House has come together in a bipartisan manner to advance legislation that invests in our nation’s aging infrastructure.”

Gibson described the bill as an example of effective bipartisan work.

The Senate still needs to act on this proposal.

More from the Gibson release

· Levee Safety: Authorizes federal technical assistance to states for levee safety programs as long as the state in question provides a minimum level of matching funding. These funds are tied to the requirement for federal levee safety guidelines.

· Flood Control: Allows the Corps to put into place a non-federal plan, at the request of a non-federal interest, to provide greater flood risk protections, if economically and environmentally favorable, to be funded by the non-federal interest.

· Dam Safety: Reauthorizes the National Dam Safety Program, including authorizing representatives from non-governmental organizations on the Dam Safety Board and requiring that board to develop and implement a comprehensive dam safety hazard education and public awareness initiative to assist the public in mitigating against, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from dam incidents.

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