House Passes Watershed Rehabilitation Bill

Jul 18, 2000

House Passes Watershed Rehabilitation Bill

(July 18, 2000)

Washington, D.C. — Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives, by voice vote, passed legislation (H.R. 728) responding to the maintenance and improvement issues involving a large number of water projects originally authorized by the federal government.

More than 10,000 small flood prevention dams, mainly located in Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas, have provided conservation and other economic benefits to much of rural America since 1948.  The infrastructures of many of these projects, however, are at or near their designated life spans and need to be rehabilitated.

"Water resources have always played an important role in the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers and in rural economies," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) said.  "Many of these dams are in desperate need of rehabilitation, but the local communities just don't have the financial resources to repair them.  Common sense dictates that the federal government should play a role in protecting its own investments."

Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced the Small Watershed Rehabilitation Amendments of 1999 (H.R. 728) as a federal response to this situation.  Under this legislation the federal government would provide financial assistance of at least sixty-five percent of total costs to local communities for making improvements in their projects.

"After three full committees, two subcommittees and months of working to craft the right bill, I am pleased that the U.S. House passed H.R. 728 today," Lucas said.  "We must ensure the safety of the more than 10,000 small flood prevention dams because the impacts of dam failures on communities and local economies would be devastating."

H.R. 728 also requires the Army Corps of Engineers to assess the status of several hundred dams built by the Work Projects Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps during the late 1930s.

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