Cantwell Secures Important Wins for Water Projects Across Washington State, Including Ports, Puget Sound Clean-Up

Bipartisan legislation includes more funding for Puget Sound restoration, harbor deepening projects at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, projects that benefit Tribes and the Columbia River

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed the bipartisan American Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 by a vote of 99-1. The bill includes a number of provisions secured by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to help Washington state’s environment, economy, and Tribal members.

“Infrastructure investment, when it comes to our waterways, means jobs,” Senator Cantwell said. “It will help make our ports more competitive and help protect our salmon habitat in the state of Washington.”

The bill includes more funding for critical environmental and habitat restoration work in Puget Sound. It increases the funding for the Puget Sound Adjacent Waters Restoration Program from $40 million to $60 million and doubles the per-project funding authorizations to $10 million. Projects funded by the program include juvenile salmon habitat restoration and efforts to improve shore access and recreational opportunities.

Another important piece of the bill provides operations and maintenance funding for large and small ports, inland waterways, locks and dams throughout Washington state, including two critical harbor deepening projects at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. As some of the largest container ships have nearly doubled in size in the last five years, these harbor deepening projects will allow the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to remain competitive with Canadian ports and continue as top North American gateways for international trade, driving Washington state’s trade economy forward. Every year, marine cargo operations at these two ports generate $4.3 billion in economic activity and support 48,000 jobs. Statewide, Washington ports annually move $94.8 billion in exports and $91.5 billion in imports.

“Our ports are essential to our economic growth in the Northwest,” Cantwell continued. “The fact that this legislation helps us on important maintenance and operations for both large and small ports, for locks and dams and waterways, is so important to our future.”

Other provisions in the bill would:

  • Provide $30 million annually for Columbia River watercraft inspection stations, which help prevent destructive invasive species like the Quagga and Zebra mussels from entering Washington state’s waterways;
  • Require the Army Corps of Engineers to finish Tribal Village Development Plans for the Yakama, Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Warm Springs tribes, who were displaced by the construction of dams on the Columbia River;
  • Incentivize power utilities to make proactive investments in hydropower upgrades to increase the efficiency of power generation, keep rates for consumers low, and help the environment by giving FERC the authority to consider these investments in the hydropower relicensing process.

After passage in the Senate today, the legislation now moves on to the President for signature into law.