Senate passes America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

The U.S. Senate voted 99-1 to approve the House amendments to S.3021 — America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, meaning it now goes to the U.S. President for signing.

This bill — sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) — was introduced in Senate in June 2018 and was first passed in Senate in early September without amendment by unanimous consent. The House passed the bill with amendments nine days later.

The National Hydropower Association says the bill will “facilitate a more efficient licensing process for proposed projects at existing non-powered dams and for closed-loop pumped storage; shorten the approval timeline for projects utilizing existing conduits; provide regulatory incentives for investments at existing hydropower facilities; and modernize preliminary permit terms and deadlines for starting construction of newly licensed projects.”

This water resources development bill includes several sections of interest to those working with hydropower or dams:

  • 1132, rehabilitation of Corps of Engineers constructed dams
  • 1151, on the operation and maintenance of navigation and hydroelectric facilities
  • 1163, dam safety
  • 1171, restricted areas at Corps of Engineers dams
  • 1206, identification of nonpowered dams for hydropower development
  • 1220, McMicken Dam, Arizona, and Muddy River, Massachusetts
  • 1311, Green River and Barren River Locks and Dams, Kentucky
  • 3001, modernizing authorizations for necessary hydropower approvals
  • 3002, qualifying conduit hydropower facilities
  • 3003, promoting hydropower development at existing nonpowered dams
  • 3004, closed-loop pumped storage projects
  • 3007, J. Bennett Johnston Waterway hydropower extension
  • 3008, stay and reinstatement of FERC License No. 11393 for the Mahoney Lake Hydroelectric Project
  • 4303, GAO audit of contracts and tainter gate repairs of Harlan County Dam
  • 4314, Indian dam safety reauthorization

“The U.S. Senate reaffirmed its commitment to clean, renewable hydropower, as these provisions will assist our industry growth, support investments in the existing system, and strengthen the resiliency of our nation’s grid,” said Linda Church Ciocci, NHA President and CEO. “Just two years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy released a landmark report demonstrating that U.S. hydropower has immense growth potential. However, that growth has been stifled by outdated licensing and regulatory policies. The measures included in AWIA are meaningful steps forward. With these legislative improvements, we now have an opportunity to more efficiently develop new projects that add generation to non-powered dams, closed-loop pumped storage, and conduit power projects.”

In a recently released statement, U.S. Conference of Mayors President Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin said, “The nation’s Mayors applaud Congress’s bipartisan efforts to pass America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, a bill that addresses the pressing needs of the country’s water infrastructure. The bill marks a positive step forward and will bring much-needed investment to key water infrastructure projects, including harbors, locks, dams, and flood protection, all of which are critical to the safety of our communities and the strength of the nation’s economy.”


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