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Senate passes Water Resources Development Act

Washington, DC - Idaho communities may soon see new projects related to water, flood control and recreation now that the Senate has approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA). Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig included a number of Idaho projects in the legislation, which was approved on a vote of 91 to 4. Craig is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which crafted the bill.

The WRDA legislation authorizes priorities for projects under the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including flood control, ecosystem improvements and recreational projects. Idaho's senators included language expediting permits and for repair work at Lower Granite Dam. Specific projects named in Idaho include:

• Boise River - Studies on flood control, ecosystem restoration and water supply;

• Little Wood River - Rehabilitation of the Gooding Channel Project for the purposes of flood control and ecosystem restoration;

• Dworshak Reservoir - Improvements for recreation near Orofino including improved boat ramps, fishing access and campground upgrades;

• Port of Lewiston - Allows for port officials to consider increased recreational and commercial opportunities;

• Drinking and Waste Water Infrastructure - An increase from $25 million to $55 million for the purposes of assisting rural communities in constructing drinking and wastewater infrastructure;

• Eurasian Milfoil study - Eurasian Milfoil is an invasive aquatic plant that is particularly troublesome in North Idaho. This study covers Vermont and other Northern tier states;

• McNary Lock and Dam, McNary National Wildlife Refuge, Washington and Idaho - Directs the transfer of administrative jurisdiction over the land acquired for the McNary Lock and Dam Project and managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service;

• Snake River project, Washington and Idaho - Modifies the Snake River Project, Oregon and Washington to amend the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Plan for the Lower Snake River, Washington, and Idaho and authorizes the Secretary to conduct studies and implement ecosystem restoration and improvements for fisheries and wildlife; and

• Columbia and Snake Rivers waterway projects - Numerous water improvement projects on the Snake and Columbia Rivers will assist North Idaho farmers in getting their products to market.

"The future use of and the amount of water available in the Boise River drainage is a critical issue for immediate study and the WRDA legislation addresses this issue," Crapo noted.

"Improvements will also be made at two of Idaho's premiere recreation areas, Dworshak Reservoir and Lake Pend Oreille." Craig said, "Idaho wouldn't be the great State we know without developing our water resources. It isn't a one-time effort, which is why enacting this bill is so important. Idaho, and our country, will benefit with the improved infrastructure." The U.S. House passed similar legislation in April. The bill now must be reconciled with the House version before becoming law.

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