U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., hailed the final Senate passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, S.612, which includes the Water Resources Development Act of 2016. The legislation, which includes several provisions that benefit Georgia, passed early Saturday morning by a bipartisan vote of 78-21.
The legislation provides additional resources for Georgia’s ports, promotes our nation’s infrastructure and commerce, and invests in the safety and reliability of our drinking water. It returns the water project authorizing process to a two-year cycle, which will allow for better, more productive long-term planning.
“Ensuring better funding for the deepening of the Port of Savannah is good news for Georgia,” said Isakson. “Keeping this project on track has required a nonstop effort from countless leaders to ensure we are progressing, and this law will help to save the state of Georgia millions of dollars towards this project. This project is a win for trade, a win for the economy and a win for the hundreds of thousands of jobs supported by the Port of Savannah.”
The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act allows for a 75 percent federal share on harbor deepening projects up to 50 feet.
Isakson has fought for Georgia’s water interests throughout the legislative process, including for the federal share of the cost of port deepening.
With ever-larger ships entering U.S. ports, a top priority for ports within the legislation was to officially require a 75 percent federal share of costs of new construction, up to a depth of 50 feet. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 1999 to deepen the Savannah River from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 48 feet. Prior to today’s legislation, the federal share dropped to 50 percent when new construction went deeper than 45 feet.
Additionally, each year the revenues that will go to harbor maintenance will be at least 103 percent of the previous year’s amount. The last Water Resources Development Act set a timetable for ports getting all the revenues collected from the harbor maintenance tax. Today’s legislation ensures that money collected in the harbor maintenance trust fund will be used to continually improve our nation’s waterways going forward.