Tricia Braid

Sep 20, 2013  |  Today's News

Waterways infrastructure legislation will soon come to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, but it’s missing a vital piece, according to Illinois corn farmers.

WRRDA, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, does not include an increase to the so-called user fee, a funding mechanism supported and requested by industry stakeholders so that this vital work can be funded in a more expeditious manner.

“Although we’re certainly supportive of the House moving some version of WRRDA legislation so that it may conference with the Senate’s WRDA bill passed earlier this year, we’re troubled that an increase in the user fee is not in the current legislation,” explained Paul Taylor, Illinois Corn Growers Association President.

“Illinois Corn Growers Association appreciates the yes votes from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, Congressman Daniel Lipinski, and Congressman Rodney Davis that moved this bill out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today. Now it can advance to the next step of adding the user fee language,” Taylor said.

“From a procedure standpoint, the additional increase of the user fee should originate in the House Ways and Means Committee. Without increased funding, we’re looking at two more generations of waterways users dealing with this crumbling infrastructure,” Taylor continued.

Recent analysis shows that without the industry-approved user fee, it will be 2070 before many repairs and upgrades could be complete at the LaGrange lock and dam, for example.

“We already are dealing with locks and dams that are now 80 or 90 years old. There’s no way they can last another 50 years,” Taylor added.

ICGA remains committed and supportive of new legislation to authorize these types of improvements with the appropriate funding mechanism and has signed a letter to the Ways and Means Committee, along with some 75 other groups, encouraging the addition of the user fee to the WRRDA.

“We hope that the Members of the House Ways and Means Committee work to include the user fee increase in the WRRDA bill that passes the House,” concluded Taylor.