WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. David Vitter, top Republican on the Senate committee that oversees the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, today said he’s still extremely confident that the Morganza to the Gulf project will be in the final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Vitter is one of four top negotiators on the bill, which is currently being reconciled between the U.S. House and Senate versions of the bill.
“We’re keeping Morganza moving forward on the right track, and we’re very close to producing a final version of this major hurricane and flood protection bill,” Vitter said. “Many Louisianians are under threat of flooding each hurricane season, and the Morganza project would give them much needed relief.”
Vitter ensured that WRDA included the ability for Morganza to get authorization under this bill when he passed the bill through the Senate. On May 15, 2013, WRDA, S. 601, was agreed to in the U.S. Senate with a vote of 83 to 14. Currently, WRDA is being worked out in a conference committee to produce a final version between the Senate and the House of Representatives. Vitter is the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over WRDA, and is the lead sponsor along with Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif).
In December 2013, Morganza’s Chief’s Report received concurrence to move forward with Congressional authorization by the Administration after nearly two decades of delays. The Corps completed the report in July, and it has been waiting for approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Chief’s Report is a major step in achieving authorization. The last hurdle was for this 120-day review to be approved by the Assistant Sec. of the Army for Civil Works and OMB. OMB did not object to the report, therefore allowing it to move forward.
WRDA provides critical hurricane and flood protection for communities across the country and particularly in Louisiana. Projects like the Morganza to the Gulf and Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration Projects will be able to get authorization under this bill.
Morganza is a system of levees, floodgates and a lock on the Houma Navigation Canal aimed at protecting residents of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes from storm flooding. The Corps has been working on the federal project since 1992.