Floor and Committee Statements

Monday, September 24, 2007

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Floor Statement on the Water Resources Development Act
Remarks as Delivered on the Senate Floor

I thank the Senator from Oklahoma and Chairman Boxer and Subcommittee Chairman Baucus for their outstanding work on the WRDA bill. I urge my colleagues to support the conference report and point out the critical need for the infrastructure we have in this country.

Historically, every 2 years we have passed the WRDA bill. Now we have gone 7 years without that. What happened in the last 7 years? We have had significant droughts, we have had Katrina, and we have had other great tragedies. It is about time that we came back to the floor and passed a comprehensive bill.

I know there has been criticism of the amount of the bill. I saw a CBO score of about $23 billion. I remind my colleagues that this is an authorization, No. 1. No. 2, it is 7 years in the making, not 2. No. 3, we have had significant tragedies and have significant threats in our own States that need to be addressed and need to be prioritized.

I will take my own State as an example. I represent a State with a major metropolitan area, Atlanta. That city has 5 million people whose water source is Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River. We don't have aquifers in the north to draw from, only the surface water that we retain. Through the leadership of a visionary Governor a few years ago, we passed the Metro North Georgia Water Planning District to take the consolidated area of north Georgia and put it into a singular planning district for water purposes, management of storm water, to see if we could maximize the return we get on the investment we make in the most precious thing we have, our water.

This legislation has money for conveyance systems. Local water authorities joined together with a regional plan to cooperate and build a solid water infrastructure.

Secondly, the Big Creek Water Management and Restoration Program is in here, which I started 9 years ago with the city of Roswell, which was developed to manage storm water, its runoff, and control water better in a major urban area. It was cited by the EPA as one of the most outstanding projects of its type in America.

Also in here is a very visionary agreement between the Governor of Georgia and the Governor of South Carolina, who signed a bistate water compact for the construction of a port to be operated jointly by the State of Georgia and the State of South Carolina in Jasper County, SC, on the Savannah River. The Ports of Charleston and Savannah are two of the major ports on the east coast of the United States. With this planned agreement and the funding that pays for the study put up by those States, and the study authorized in this legislation, these two States will set a historic precedent to reach out together and form partnerships so as to make the maximum use of the port capabilities and facilities of our States on the Atlantic Coast.

A lot of work has gone into this legislation. Senator Inhofe has worked tirelessly, as has Chairman Boxer, but I want to mention the ones who don't get much credit: Mike Quiello and Caroline McLean, on my own staff; Angie Giancarlo; Let Mon Lee; Jeff Rosato; Ken Kopocis; Tyler Rushforth; Paul Wilkins; and Jo-Ellen Darcy, all who spent countless hours to make this legislation come to pass.

I thank the ranking member for the time. I commit my vote to passage of the conference report and ask my colleagues to join me and show a significant vote for the WRDA conference committee report.