Understanding the Water Resources Development Act, (WRDA), and the Indian River Lagoon

Congressman Patrick Murphy speaking, Kiwanis luncheon, 4/15/14, 2014.
Congressman Patrick Murphy speaking, Kiwanis luncheon, 4/15/14, 2014. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippsich)

One of the nicest things lately is spending time with my father. He is a long time member of Kiwanis and has invited me to be a guest three times this year. Yesterday, he invited me because Congressman Murphy was speaking, and my dad  knows I like politics, especially “river politics,” of which Congressman Murphy has been very supportive.

In the relatively small group I had the opportunity to ask a direct question. One thing I am very aware of is that even though I study this water “stuff” all the time, I literally understand the only “tip of the iceberg.” This is confusing and I know if I don’t know, there  are plenty of others who don’t know either.

So today, I am going to try to explain what I think I know, and what Congressman Murphy explained yesterday about the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that we keep hearing so much about.

First of all, the federal government is a black hole and just because they vote on something does not insure it will happen. As in “authorizing”–or agreeing to spend money on projects. Let’s keep this in the back of our minds….

So WRDA is a bill that is only passed ever so often, in which Congress “authorizes” (kind of promises to give money, over time) to the Army Corp of Engineers, so the Army Corp can do their work. So far, there have been a number WRDA acts since 1974-2007, but none lately. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Resources_Development_Act)

The proposed WRDA bill that is being worked on right now, for 2014, (it was  2013), “promotes critical investment in the nations water infrastructure:”,  (http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=1db8714f-ac01-4253-8c9f-367d09d6f573). The projects referred to in this bill are mostly structural and not environmental, as in improving ports and the moving agricultural product. Nonetheless, we can benefit from this bill.

From what I understand CEPP, or the Central Everglades Planning Project, that the South Florida Water Management District just voted 5-0 last week to “recommend,” (a big deal), can now go to the Army Corp of Engineers to be included the Corps “final report,”  to hopefully be included in WRDA 2014. CEPP is the first part of “moving more water south” from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and is critical to the beginning betterment of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.


So this was my question to Congressman Murphy yesterday: ” You just now said WRDA passed, but whenever I hear the ACOE talking about it, it sounds like they are still waiting  for it and hoping to “tag on,” as it is possible to still “get in…?”

Congressman Murphy explained that WRDA passed the US HOUSE with flying colors, (he serves in the House), and then later passed the US Senate, but that the language although similar was not the same, so the bills, together, had to go “to committee” and are still being hashed out–blending House and Senate language and goals for a final bill.

So WRDA  2014 is not yet passed or final…

OK….that makes sense but what is confusing to the public and to me is when they say “it passed.” I guess this is not too much different than in municipal government when an ordinance “passes first reading,” but it still has to go through “second reading” to  “really” pass….

It’s  all very confusing, but WRDA is one of our greatest tools to fix the lagoon, so don’t give up. Keep pushing for WRDA and CEPP’s inclusion, and if you really want to help, write Congressman Murphy to thank him for WRDA passing just the House.  Then egg  him on for Easter and Passover to keep pushing for WRDA, and our river, in ways bigger than he already has.  (FLMurphyPatrick@mail.house.gov)

3 thoughts on “Understanding the Water Resources Development Act, (WRDA), and the Indian River Lagoon

  1. I am really enjoying your blog posts!

    Good to see you the other day at land trust event. I enjoyed speaking with Mr. Fairbanks, and I spoke with Ken about him. I am not sure they know exactly what they need right now…but he at least has his hat in the ring.

    Keep up the great work!

    Janet Alford

    Sent from my iPad


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