Westerman Opening Statement from Water Resources, Environment Hearing
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) gave the following opening statement during a Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing, titled, “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Implementation and Assessing Future Needs”:
“Thank you Chairwoman Napolitano for holding this important hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today to discuss the important work of the Army Corps of Engineers.
I’m proud to be able to work on this committee that has been able to pass three major, transformational WRDA laws in the last three Congresses to improve our nation’s water resources infrastructure. With this tremendous accomplishment, I want to urge the Corps to expeditiously implement some of the great reforms from these three laws.
“As we look forward to future water resources legislation, one issue that cannot be overlooked is the flooding that has occurred across the nation. While the Arkansas River was swollen to historic levels, flooding homes, breaching levees, and devastating farmland, Arkansas is by no means alone in these experiences. Our neighbors in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and beyond have all been affected by heavy rains this year. Unprecedented flooding such as this should serve as a catalyst for us to re-examine infrastructure, to ensure it is updated and capable of protecting life and property.
“These disasters beg an important question: what can Congress do to prevent future flooding? Or more importantly, how can we improve infrastructure within our states to reduce the risk of dam and levee breaches?
“In Arkansas alone, we’ve seen an estimated $23 million in daily economic loss along the Arkansas River as barges and boats can no longer navigate our inland waterways. Much of this waterborne commerce is dependent on infrastructure that was initially constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, and is quickly approaching the end of its shelf life.
“So as the flood waters recede across the nation, it is important for this committee to continue its bipartisan commitment to work and pass critical water resources legislation. We can’t afford another year of flooded homes and washed out farmlands. The American people deserve better than this.
“I look forward to hearing about the Corps’ implementation of the recent WRDAs, and hearing constructive ideas from our witnesses across both panels on addressing our future water resources infrastructure needs."