Shaheen & Hassan Include NH Priorities in Bipartisan Infrastructure Water Bill that Clears House, Calls for Senate Vote

December 08, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) issued the following statements after the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, biennial legislation that authorizes water infrastructure projects around the country.

WRDA contains several New Hampshire priorities Shaheen and Hassan helped secure that would:

  • Direct the Secretary of the Army to provide a status update on the completion of the Portsmouth Harbor and Piscataqua River Navigation Improvement Project after the WRDA of 2018 included specific language urging the Corps to expedite the project;
  • Expedite authorized activities to address shoaling impacts at Rye Harbor, the dredging of which is currently underway; and
  • Extend the use of the Cape Arundel Disposal Site, which has long been a site for the placement of dredged materials from the harbors of New Hampshire and Maine, to ensure continuation of a regional disposal site for dredging projects.

“This legislation includes important provisions that will address serious concerns about New Hampshire’s waterways,” said Senator Shaheen. “The prioritization and completion of these navigation improvement projects is necessary to protect Granite State fishermen, as well as strengthen the safety and economic vitality of our coastal communities and businesses that rely on these critical waterways. I’m pleased by the bipartisan support that allowed the Water Resources Development Act to pass the House and urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit.”

“New Hampshire’s coastal communities and our commerce depend on clear and safe passage through our waterways. We must continue efforts to keep them safe for navigation and in turn, support our Seacoast industries and fishermen,” Senator Hassan said. “I am glad that this bipartisan legislation includes critical improvement projects for New Hampshire, including measures that prioritize and expedite dredging projects on our Seacoast. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important, bipartisan legislation without delay so that we can send it to the President’s desk for a signature.”

The Portsmouth Harbor and Piscataqua River Navigation Improvement Project would widen the uppermost turning basin of the Piscataqua River from 800 feet to 1,200 feet, which would improve navigation safety. Due to its current narrow width, vessels navigating the river – including liquefied petroleum gas tankers and other bulk shippers – face significant safety risks and transit restrictions. Shaheen first secured authorization for the Portsmouth Harbor and Piscataqua River Navigation Improvement Project as part of the 2016 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Since then, Shaheen and Hassan have worked with the rest of the New Hampshire congressional delegation to prioritize the project, specifically including language in the 2018 WRDA urging the Corps to expedite the project. During a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in March, Shaheen received assurance from R.D. James, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, that this project would be a priority for the Corps.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen helped procure and Hassan supported more than $7 billion for the Corps to complete necessary infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and across the country in fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding legislation that the President signed into law. This is $651 million above last year’s funding level and included the funding necessary to dredge Rye Harbor. In February, the Corps released their fiscal year 2020 work plan, which provided $4 million to complete dredging work at Rye Harbor – a direct result of the Shaheen and Hassan’s legislative efforts to secure the funding and support needed for the project. This followed Shaheen and Hassan’s successful efforts to address the need for emergency dredging at Hampton-Seabrook Harbor by directing the Corps to prioritize off-cycle, emergency dredging in its Work Plans. Following calls from Shaheen and Hassan, the Corps included $4.6 million in their 2019 Work Plan to dredge the harbor, which has since been completed.

 

The bill text of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 is available here.