Hoeven: Senate WRDA & Water Funding Legislation Will Help Advance Comprehensive Flood Protection in the Red River Valley

Senator Outlines Provisions to Resolve Easements on HMGP Land, Implement Corps’ WIFIA Low-Cost Loans, Support P3s & Fund Corps Project Construction

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today convened a roundtable with local leaders from the Fargo-Moorhead region on efforts to advance comprehensive flood protection in the Red River Valley. Hoeven outlined provisions he recently secured to support flood control efforts, including in the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water funding bill, which was passed by the Senate in June, and the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, also referred to as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is expected to be considered by the full Senate before Labor Day. Hoeven is working to ensure these two pieces of legislation address the following priorities:

  • Resolve easements on land purchased with Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding and allow construction of flood protection.
  • Implement the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide low-cost loans and loan guarantees for water infrastructure, helping to reduce project financing costs.
  • Ensure fair treatment of public-private partnership (P3) projects and others that use alternative financing methods during the Corps’ cost-benefit analysis, including flood protection in the Fargo-Moorhead region.
  • Increase the Corps’ construction account to ensure priorities like flood protection in the Red River Valley continue to receive funding.

“We are bringing the pieces together that will allow continued progress on building comprehensive flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead region,” Hoeven said. “Our legislation in the Senate’s water infrastructure bill will help ensure we are ready and able to construct the realigned control structures under the updated flood protection plan. Further, we’ve included provisions both in this bill and the FY2019 funding legislation to support the Army Corps’ implementation of WIFIA and to advance the use of P3 projects, while also increasing the Corps’ construction account. The funding bill is currently in conference committee, and I am hopeful we can pass the Senate’s WRDA bill by Labor Day.”

Water Resources Development Act

            Hoeven secured the following provisions in the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act:

  • Hoeven-sponsored legislation to address easements on land purchased with HMGP funding. The senator’s provision grants the authority needed to implement the changes recommended by the joint task force convened by Governors Doug Burgum and Mark Dayton.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ method for estimating a project’s cost-benefit ratio. 
  • Requires the Army Corps to report on the remaining obstacles to establishing its WIFIA program.

Water Infrastructure Funding Legislation

Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, where he works to ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the funding it needs to deliver flood protection to North Dakota’s communities. To this end, the senator included the following priorities in the Fiscal Year 2019 funding legislation:

  • A $76 million increase for Army Corps construction projects.
  • Directs the Corps to complete a detailed plan for implementing WIFIA and provides $1 million to support WIFIA program implementation. This aligns with Hoeven’s legislation to extend the WIFIA program.
  • Requires the Corps to issue policy on the consideration and incorporation of P3 projects into its budget.
  • Continues reforms to accelerate the Corps’ section 404 and 408 reviews that experienced significant delays in prior years. Last year, Hoeven secured similar language in the bill to expedite processing of Section 408 packages that affected several North Dakota projects, including those in Minot and Cass County.