U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, praised the Senate passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 and noted provisions in the legislation that will directly benefit Oklahoma.
“Today we’ve passed the third consecutive biennial water resources bill, which allows us to ensure America has modern, updated water resources and infrastructure to maintain our economic competitiveness. By passing this bill, Congress is taking bipartisan action on infrastructure to support states and local communities across the country.
“I’m pleased this bill supports Oklahoma by giving state and local stakeholders greater say in which projects get funded. We also cut needless red tape in this bill by allowing for greater transparency into Corps permitting and real estate processes. I fought to secure provisions in this legislation that will promote economic development in Oklahoma by further advancing the MKARNS priorities, as well as provide certainty in water storage pricing for Bartlesville—saving taxpayers over $100 million over 10 years. I also worked to include language that could extend the authorization for the Booster Pump Station in Midwest City and provide for the Altus-Lugart dike rehabilitation.”
McClellen-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS)
Because of Sen. Inhofe’s leadership, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 authorizes the Three Rivers Chief’s report, allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on the long-term viability of the MKARNS system.
“Chairman Barrasso and Senate EPW Subcommittee members deserve high praise for their attention to America’s inland waterway infrastructure needs, ensuring the competitiveness of America’s farmers, manufacturers and energy producers. On behalf of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System stakeholders, I applaud the efforts of Senator Inhofe, Senator Boozman and Senator Moran to protect the public and private investments already made and to capture additional benefits for future generations,” said Scott Robinson, Director of the Port of Muskogee.
Limitation on Water Storage Costs
In 2016, Bartlesville learned purchasing additional water supply from Hulah and Copan lakes could cost over $100 million over 10 years based on the current pricing structure for purchasing water from the U.S. Army Corps lakes. Sen. Inhofe secured a provision that would make it affordable for municipalities, like Bartlesville, to contract with the Corps for water supply.
"On behalf of the City of Bartlesville, I would like to thank Sen. Inhofe for his tremendous work and leadership in securing language in the 'America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018' that will help ensure needed and affordable water supply for Bartlesville and its surrounding communities," Bartlesville Mayor Dale Copeland said. "This language is vital to the over 50,000 people in the region who depend on access to reliable water storage in order to keep up with regional growth and to foster economic development."
Midwest City Booster Pump Station
The Water System Booster Pump Station and Storage Reconstruction project for the City of Midwest City, Oklahoma, was authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. Unfortunately, this project has never been appropriated and is at risk of being deauthorized at the end of this fiscal year. Sen. Inhofe secured language in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act to allow for Midwest City to extend their current authorization, if funding is not made available before September 30, 2018.
“The City of Midwest City would like to thank Senator Inhofe for inclusion of his provision to extend the authorization for the City’s proposed Booster Pump Station and Storage Tank Reconstruction Project in the recently Committee passed WRDA bill,” stated Midwest City Mayor Matthew Dukes. “We continue to work with the Tulsa District Corps of Engineers to ensure this project is funded and comes to fruition in the near future.”
Corps Real Estate Transparency
When various projects are in need of right-of-ways, it can be difficult to ascertain where the Corps has real estate holdings. Sen. Inhofe included a provision to establish a publically available database so all stakeholders can see where the Corps’ land holdings exist, signaling to likely applicants the need to obtain special authorization and streamline the permitting process within the Corps of Engineers, as well.
This provision was supported in a joint letter by the American Petroleum Institute, Associated General Contractors, the National Waterways Conference and the Waterways Council. The letter reads in part: “We support the provision to establish a publicly available central portal for those disclosures so that all stakeholders can more easily view the depth and breadth of the Corps’ holdings. This public database would alert potential applicants of the need to obtain special authorization in a given area and would relieve the Corps of the need to enumerate its real estate interests every time a prospective applicant requests this information. The establishment of a Corps real estate database reflects good Government and optimizes resource requirements for applicants and the Corps. We look forward to continuing to work with you on S. 2800, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.”
Altus-Lugart Dike Rehabilitation
In 2015, the Bureau of Reclamation completed a Corrective Action Study of the W.C. Austin Project within the Altus-Lugart Irrigation District. The study identified several modifications needed to reduce the probability of dam or dike failure. Sen. Inhofe has provided for the modifications to be done at 100% federal cost share, saving the users of the system possible rate increases to comply with the required upgrades.
Allow Remote Survey Data for Permitting Process
Many vital infrastructure projects, like pipelines, can span hundreds of miles, making time-consuming and expensive to manually collect survey data. Sen. Inhofe worked to include a provision in the legislation that would allow aerial survey data to ensure the necessary permits are processed in a timely manner, upon verification on the ground at a later time.
“Williams appreciates Senator Inhofe’s leadership on this important issue. Using remote sensing technologies to ensure pipeline companies and regulators have the best data available ensures that new infrastructure can be evaluated using solid scientific information,” said Alan Armstrong, President and CEO of Williams.