05.22.14

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Supports Investments in Wisconsin's Water Infrastructure

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today voted to strengthen America’s waterways and ports, make critical investments in our nation’s infrastructure and support our economic recovery. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), authorizes funding to renew the nation’s locks and dams, provides harbor and river maintenance, assists with flood protection, and restores key environmental areas. The legislation passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support, 91-7. Having passed the House earlier this week, the legislation will now go to the President to be signed into law.

“In order for us to grow the economy and create jobs we need to make sure we build a 21st century Wisconsin infrastructure that includes renewing our commitment to our ports, locks and dams,” said Baldwin. “Rebuilding our water infrastructure will not only put people to work and create jobs, it will provide businesses with the quality infrastructure they need to move their goods to market.”

Surrounded by two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin’s waterways are an important transportation source and economic resource. Understanding the need to make important investments in this critical infrastructure, Senator Baldwin worked to insert key reforms in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. They include:

  • A Buy American provision to ensure our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs use products made in the U.S., benefiting American industry and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. taxpayer jobs that they support – including 900 jobs at Neenah Foundry in Neenah
  • Provisions to allow the City of Milwaukee to move forward on restoring the Burnham Canal and transforming it into a wetland
  • Supporting increased harbor maintenance funding through administrative changes in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund – directly impacting all of Wisconsin’s harbors, including those in Duluth and Superior, Green Bay, Milwaukee
  • Acknowledgement of the Great Lakes dredging crisis which will divert 10 percent of all new maintenance dredging funds to the Great Lakes
  • Implementation of measures to prevent aquatic nuisance species from dispersing into the Great Lakes
  • Changes to benefit inland waterways which will benefit waters in western Wisconsin along the Mississippi River, including in Cassville, Prarie du Chien and La Crosse

“We are pleased at the passage of this bill,” said Scott Hoffman, Neenah Foundry Vice President - Municipal Products Group. “I am confident that the taxpayers of America want to have their dollars spent on products produced in the USA with American talent.  The Buy American provision of this law ensures that not only are tax dollars spent wisely, but that the castings and fabrications used for our infrastructure are produced with the highest quality, durability and reliability.”

In addition, the bill establishes two new programs to finance water infrastructure including the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority pilot project to provide credit assistance to state or local governments, agencies, tribal government as well as corporations and partnerships for drinking water, wastewater, and other water resource infrastructure projects.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act also significantly impacts Wisconsin’s agriculture industry as agriculture products and commodities are a large part of what gets shipped through our ports and inland waterways.

“This is a long-sought legislative priority for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. As such, we are very pleased that Senator Tammy Baldwin supported the Water Resources Reform and Development Act,” said Jim Holte, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President. “The health of Wisconsin’s $59 billion agricultural economy hinges on us being a reliable supplier of agricultural products to domestic and foreign markets, but also access important inputs to grow their crops and livestock.”

“This bill takes commonsense steps to create good-paying jobs here at home and makes smart investments that will help Wisconsin businesses grow,” Baldwin said.