December 07, 2022

Manchin Secures West Virginia Priorities in Water Resources Development Act

WDRA 2022 will provide significant investments throughout West Virginia for innovative opportunity and economic growth

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced several West Virginia priorities that he fought for were included in the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022. The text was released on Tuesday evening by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Senator Manchin applauds the Committee’s strong bipartisan work. The critical legislation authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct flood control, navigation and ecosystem restoration projects and creates a path forward for new hydropower development at existing dams in West Virginia.

“I am thrilled the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is continuing its bipartisan efforts to advance the Water Resources Development Act of 2022, which contains several priorities I fought to include for West Virginia. This vital legislation addresses many of our concerns in West Virginia, including authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to take additional measures to prevent flooding and explore building new hydropower facilities at existing dams, including at R.D. Bailey Dam in Wyoming County and Bluestone Lake in Summers County. Along with the investments made possible by my Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this legislation will enable innovative projects to diversify and strengthen our economy, create new jobs and make our communities safer. I’m pleased this critical bill was the result of a regular order committee process with strong bipartisan support, and I look forward to seeing the bill come before the full Senate,” said Senator Manchin.

West Virginia priorities championed by Senator Manchin include:

  • Authorization of Hydropower Construction: In 2020, Senator Manchin secured a report to identify existing Corps facilities in Appalachia that could be updated or enhanced for hydropower. WRDA 2022 authorizes USACE to conduct feasibility studies for the potential future construction of hydropower at R.D. Bailey Dam (Wyoming County), Sutton Dam (Braxton County), Hildebrand Lock and Dam (Monongahela County), Bluestone Lake (Summers County), Stonewall Jackson Dam (Lewis County), East Lynn Dam (Wayne County) and Burnsville Lake (Braxton County).
  • Realignment of Section 340 and 571 Environmental Infrastructure: West Virginia’s two major environmental infrastructure programs currently cover 35 counties throughout Central and Southern West Virginia. Senator Manchin secured the realignment of the two West Virginia programs to have a north and south split along West Virginia’s new congressional districts and cover all counties in the state. This allows West Virginia counties to compete for this funding, which is traditionally used for water and wastewater projects.
  • USACE Military Personnel Augmentation Act of 2021WRDA 2022 includes Senator Manchin’s bipartisan bill to expand the eligibility pool within the Army for USACE historically underfilled billets was included in the base text. This would expand eligibility for the positions to Army Reserve Engineer warrant and noncommissioned officers and Army National Guard Engineer commissioned, warrant and noncommissioned officers.
  • Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection: The Continuing Authorities Program (CAP), Section 14, known as Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection, allows the Corps to shore up and protect critical public facilities from streambank and shoreline erosion. Senator Manchin secured a provision that would increase the allowable federal investment to $10 million from its current cap at $5 million to allow more vital, emergency projects to move forward.
  • Recreation Fees and Credit Card Only Machines in West VirginiaWRDA 2022 asks the Secretary of the Army to consider broader options for payment of day fees at Corps recreation sites in West Virginia and report back to the committee within a year. WRDA 2022 also encourages the Army Corps to distribute an amount of no less than 80% of fees collected on site back to the sites for operations and maintenance costs.
  • Lower Mud Flood Protection Project (Milton, WV): The bill changes the federal cost share from 65% to 90% for this project.
  • Bluestone Dam (Summers County): This request is carried from the 2020 WRDA to continue encouraging the Corps to move as quickly and as safely as possible through phase 5 of construction at the Bluestone Dam.
  • Encourages the USACE to expedite the Kanawha River Basin Flood Risk Management Study, which was fully funded as a result of Senator Manchin’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.