Senator Collins Hails Passage of Major Bipartisan Water Infrastructure Bill with Key Provisions for Maine

At Senator Collins’ request, bill greenlights important navigation project for Portsmouth Harbor and Piscataqua River, and keeps Cape Arundel Disposal Site open

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins released the following statement after the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 this afternoon 95-3. 

“This bipartisan water infrastructure bill will help create good jobs, ensure our nation’s ports and waterways remain competitive and clean, and provide urgent aid for communities across our country that are suffering from excess lead levels in their drinking water systems.

“More than 99 percent of our country’s trade passes through our nation’s ports and harbors, which serve as crucial economic engines for communities in Maine and those across our country. I am pleased to announce that, at my request, this legislation greenlights an important navigation project for the Portsmouth Harbor and the Piscataqua River. At present the Portsmouth Harbor handles nearly 3.5 million tons of shipping each year through a turning basin and waterway that are far too narrow for such a large volume of commerce. This project would increase both safety and efficiency by constructing a wider turning basin that will serve the terminals on the upper section of the Piscataqua River, as well as by widening the waterway at several bends and bridges.

“In addition, this legislation includes a provision I requested that will keep the Cape Arundel Disposal Site open for an additional 5 years. Keeping this site open would help allow sufficient time for the region to obtain a permanent designation by the EPA for this site or another to replace it. Disposal sites in close proximity are crucial for successful dredging projects along the Maine coast that keep our ports and harbors clear, safe, and open for business.”

This bipartisan legislation authorizes: more than $9 billion in funding for major water infrastructure improvements nationwide; $220 million in aid to alleviate the drinking water crisis in Flint and other cities with excess lead levels in their drinking water systems; and nearly 30 new Corps water infrastructure projects.

The Senate will now await action from the U.S. House of Representatives.

Senator Collins cosigned a letter in June urging Senate leaders to bring the bill to the floor.