September 15, 2016

Hirono Secures Hawaii Priorities in Wide-Ranging Bill to Improve Water Resources

Creates Program to Repair High Hazard Dams, Promote Green Infrastructure, and Support Public-Private Partnerships

Senator Mazie K. Hirono successfully included several Hawaii priorities in S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which passed the Senate today. The bill authorizes over $12 billion in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, and supports water infrastructure projects across the country.

“Hawaii residents know too well the dangers that flash floods present to life and property. It’s critical that we upgrade our water infrastructure to ensure that families are protected,” said Senator Hirono. “I’m proud to have successfully fought for programs to keep another Kaloko Dam disaster from occurring, support projects like the Ala Wai Flood Mitigation Program, and dedicate funding to maintaining rural harbors.”

The Water Resources Development Act includes several Hawaii-specific priorities that Senator Hirono fought to have included in the bill, including:

$435 Million for Repairing High Hazard Dams

Ten years after the failure of the Kaloko Dam on Kauai, Senator Hirono advocated to create a new program to repair or remove high hazard potential dams across the country. The bill establishes the program and provides up to $435 million for projects across the country. Funding will be allocated based on interest and also need. There are over 100 high hazard dams in Hawaii.

Promoting Green Infrastructure

Senator Hirono worked to include provisions that direct the Environmental Protection Agency to promote green infrastructure projects, which use natural features to reduce stormwater runoff.

Growing Collaborative Public-Private Partnerships

This legislation makes it easier for the federal government to use public-private partnerships for water infrastructure projects, such as the Ala Wai Flood Mitigation Program. S. 2848 clarifies the Secretary’s authority to enter into these agreements.

Funding for Emerging Harbors

Senator Hirono supported successful efforts to dedicate funding within the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to maintaining harbors where less than 1 million tons of commercial cargo moves across the docks per year. Harbors on Hawaii Island, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, and Oahu could benefit from this program.

Prioritizing Coastal Resilience

This bill directs the Army Corps of Engineer’s Coastal Resiliency Program to prioritize projects in communities threatened by sea-level rise.

Improving Pacific Territories’ Water Infrastructure

Senator Hirono successfully included a provision to make it easier for American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to undertake water infrastructure projects.