WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today attended the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing: Water Resources Needs and the President’s Budget Proposal. At the hearing, Senator Inhofe stressed the importance of passing the long overdue Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for Oklahoma and the nation. In addition, Senator Inhofe discussed his public-private partnership provision included in last year’s WRDA bill as a way to provide for more recreation opportunities in Oklahoma. The Corps of Engineers is the largest provider of outdoor recreation - larger than both the National Park Service and the Forest Service.
“Passage of the long overdue WRDA bill is a top priority for me and the entire EPW Committee,” Senator Inhofe said. “The WRDA bill provides numerous project authorizations and policy improvements that are vital to Oklahoma and the nation’s economy, public safety and environment. As the Ranking Member of the EPW Committee, I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to build on the progress made last year in order to enact WRDA as soon as possible.
“As we move forward with the WRDA bill, I look forward to further exploring public-private partnerships as a means of providing better and more abundant recreation opportunities to our citizens. Last year’s WRDA bill that passed the Senate included a provision allowing the Corps to experiment with certain policies to see what options are available at Oklahoma’s many lakes to maximize the recreation benefits of public-private partnerships.”
The following provisions were included in last year’s WRDA bill, and Senator Inhofe intends to advocate for inclusion again this year.
Lake Texoma – Local plans for further recreational development on land previously conveyed to the State of Oklahoma at Lake Texoma are being hindered by reversionary interest language included in that conveyance. The WRDA bill would remove the reversionary interest language, thereby allowing local development plans to move forward.
Lake Eufaula - This provision establishes recreation as a project purpose and creates a lake advisory committee that will allow citizens to give recommendations to the Corps regarding the operations of the lake. This section would also authorize a reallocation study.
Oklahoma Lake Demonstration - The WRDA bill creates a program in Oklahoma that would encourage development on Corps lakes through public-private partnerships.
Arcadia Lake – The City of Edmond has been in dispute with the Corps of Engineers over whether the city owes additional money as interest on water payments. The WRDA bill clarifies that the city is not liable for interest during the time when the city was not using the water.
Waurika Lake Project – The Corps of Engineers and the Waurika Project Master Conservancy District completed the lake project in the 1980s. Well after completion of the lake, the Corps discovered an accounting error and claimed it had undercharged the Conservancy District. Language in the WRDA bill clarifies that Waurika is obligated to pay only the amount that was originally agreed to when the project was completed.
Link to Senator Inhofe’s Opening Statement