Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives late Wednesday night passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen America’s ports, locks, dams, and water infrastructure. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which now heads to the Senate for further consideration, also included an amendment offered by U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) to facilitate the repair of Len Small Levee in Alexander County.
“This vitally important legislation helps local communities, like those in Alexander County, recover from flood disasters,” said Bost. “Several thousand acres of infrastructure and agriculture land were destroyed when Len Small Levee gave way 2 years ago. Residents were left in bureaucratic uncertainty as federal agencies calculated whether fixing the levee was worthwhile. This legislation gives a lifeline to rural communities struggling to rebuild after a disaster.”
“After the Len Small Levee breached in 2016, land owners dealt with months of flooded land, lost crops and lip service from the Army Corps of Engineers before it became evident that the levee wouldn’t be fixed,” said Richard Guebert, Jr., president, Illinois Farm Bureau. “That’s why we’re pleased to see Rep. Bost’s amendment to the Water Resources Development Act pass today. It gives businesses, farmers and residents some hope that what they’ve spent many years building may be rebuilt in the event of a flood, instead of being washed away and given little thought by the government.”
“Rural communities face many unique challenges compared to more urbanized communities, including eligibility for recovery funds following natural disasters,” said Amy Larson, President of the National Waterways Conference. “Congressman Bost’s amendment provides these communities with enhanced options to address the repair and rehabilitation of damaged flood protection works.”
Under current law, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can only repair a non-federal levee if the flood protection benefits outweigh the costs. The Bost Amendment allows local sponsors to pay the difference between the cost of repairing a levee and its projected flood protection benefits. The amendment does not increase the federal government’s share of the costs for repairs and is supported by the American Farm Bureau, National Waterways Conference, and the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA).