A bill that the US House of Representatives just passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, has Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) seeing possible benefits for recreational boaters.
One item in the boater-friendly Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 directs the US Army Corps of Engineers to assess the operation and maintenance needs of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
'We have national highway and air transportation systems,' said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Coordinator David Kennedy. 'This is the first time since 2007 that Congress is moving forward with a much needed transportation bill for our waterways, and boaters stand to gain from it.'
Recreational boaters will benefit from language in the bill directing the Army Corps of Engineers to target funding to emerging harbors, or those that ship less than one million tons of cargo annually. H.R. 3080 allocates 10% of the total amount of expenditures that go to waterway operation and maintenance costs to be used at these emerging harbors. While these harbors and waterways may not carry the millions of tons of cargo of the bigger ports, they play a vital role in supporting recreational boating and commercial fishing.
The bill also takes some innovative approaches to waterway development policy such as streamlining project studies and looking at all of the individually authorized projects in the Great Lakes Navigation System as a single comprehensive system that recognizes the interdependence of the projects. Additionally, the Corps is directed to assess the operation and maintenance needs of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, taking into consideration their benefits to recreation, commercial fishing and navigation.
'We'd like to thank the bill's sponsor, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.; Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV; Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-OH, and Rep. Tim Bishop, D-NY for their leadership in moving this legislation forward. We truly appreciate their understanding of the vital role that emerging harbors and shallow draft channels play in thousands of communities across the nation,' stated Kennedy.