Kobayashi, Hawaii First Water, 29 May 2014:
The new Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) is heading for the President’s desk for his signature as of the end of May. An initial reading of the conference report makes clear that a number of provisions will be financially beneficial to Hawaii’s harbor and water infrastructure. The bill passed with strong support from both houses of Congress. A link to the conference version of the bill is here: http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3080/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22water%22%5D%7D
- On 14 May, Hawaii Senator Schatz said,” This agreement authorizes funding for Hawai’i’s harbors and water projects, which are important to jobs here and will help protect our precious water resources.” According to his office, the new law will allow small projects to avoid a cumbersome approval process in which they had to compete for funding with much bigger ports. Under the agreement, small harbors, such as found in Hawaii, can receive funding up to $15 million per project.
- On 22 May, Hawaii Senator Hirano’s office reported that she had also worked on the bill to assist the Army Corp of Engineers in prioritizing remote and subsistence harbor projects, which include certain small harbors in Hawaii, such as Hana harbor on Maui and Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island.
The WRRDA also makes several important changes to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program, according to Senator Schatz’s office. The bill allows for more flexible loan terms, including lower interest rates and principle forgiveness. More relevant for Hawaii, it expands eligible uses to include implementation of watershed plans, water conservation, stormwater recapture, and technical assistance to small and medium treatment works.
- Since 1988, the Hawai’i Department of Health has used funding the CWSRF to issue over $675 million in low interest loans to Hawai’i’s four counties to construct high priority drinking water, wastewater and storm water systems, according to Senator Schutz’s office.