Water Resources Development Act of 2007 – Law via Override

Domestic infrastructure, in all its glory! 

Today, the U.S. Senate joined the House in overriding a Presidential veto of the Water Resources Development Act.  The override represents the President’s first and is covered well in this article in the New York Times and this one in the Washington Post. 


Following the 79-14 vote to pass the $23 billion water bill over Presidential veto, the Senate passed a $151 billion health, education and labor spending bill.  And as the Post article notes, House and Senate conferees reached agreement on a transportation and housing investment bill.  The adjacent map represents the override vote in the House yesterday; U.S. States are sized in proportion to population and hence representation in Congress.  

Coverage in the next few days will focus on the overall cost of the bill and the override politics, but for those of you interested in some of the contents of the legislation, below is a sampling of significant provisions.  Gluttons, reach the full text of the bill here. 

(Sec. 2004) Directs the Secretary to prepare a compilation of U.S. laws related to water resources development enacted after November 8, 1966, and before January 1, 2008.

(Sec. 2009) Directs the Secretary to expedite any authorized planning, design, and construction of a flood damage reduction project for an area that, within the preceding five years, has been subject to flooding that resulted in the loss of life and caused damage of sufficient magnitude to warrant a declaration of a major disaster by the President.

(Sec. 2013) Authorizes the Secretary, at the request of a governmental agency or nonfederal interest, to provide technical assistance in managing water resources, including the provision and integration of hydrologic, economic, and environmental data and analyses.

(Sec. 2017) Directs the Secretary to provide public access to water resource and related water quality data in the custody of the Corps of Engineers. [Ed:  Currently exploring whether this could represent a GIS bonanza].

(Sec. 2032) Directs the President to report to Congress describing U.S. vulnerability to damage from flooding, including: (1) an assessment of the extent to which programs relating to flooding address flood risk reduction priorities; (2) the extent to which those programs may be encouraging development and economic activity in flood-prone areas; and (3) recommendations for improving those programs.

(Sec. 3177) Authorizes the Secretary to undertake research on water quality issues affecting the Mississippi River and the development of remediation strategies.

(Sec. 4050) – The Secretary shall conduct a study and prepare a report to evaluate the integrity of the bulkhead system located on and in the vicinity of Duluth-Superior Harbor, Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, including determination of the causes of corrosion to the bulkhead system and an estimate of the cost of addressing the problem and making necessary repairs.

(Sec. 5158) Authorizes additional assistance for projects including the following samples:

CENTRAL IRON RANGE SANITARY SEWER DISTRICT, MINNESOTA – $12,000,000 for wastewater infrastructure for the Central Iron Range Sanitary Sewer District, Minnesota.

CENTRAL LAKE REGION SANITARY DISTRICT, MINNESOTA – $2,000,000 for sanitary sewer and wastewater infrastructure for the Central Lake Region Sanitary District, Minnesota.

GOODVIEW, MINNESOTA – $3,000,000 for water quality infrastructure, Goodview, Minnesota.

GRAND RAPIDS, MINNESOTA – $5,000,000 for wastewater infrastructure, Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

WILLMAR, MINNESOTA – $15,000,000 for wastewater infrastructure, Willmar, Minnesota.

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA – $3,000,000 for stormwater upgrades, City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA- $20,000,000 for the planning, design, and construction of water related infrastructure for Santa Monica Bay and the coastal zone of Los Angeles County, California.

(Title VII) – Provisions related to the Louisiana Coastal Area.

Placemaking requires dependable, quality infrastructure for wastewater, drinking water, and river navigation, among others.  In their most recent report card for U.S. infrastructure (released 2005), the American Society of Civil Engineers graded each these categories of U.S. infrastructure with a D-.  Making places differently will need to be an increasingly prominent part of the infrastructure solution, and so is investment.  Today’s override is a good step. 


  1. Notwithstanding continuing concern over the flood protection afforded storm-vulnerable cities like New Orleans, Galveston, Miami, and Biloxi, as well as the need to rebuild and strengthen existing but inadequate flood protection systems, this Congress appears intent on diverting taxpayer dollars from core responsibilities to water-sports and other low-priority schemes. Indicative of this bill’s misplaced spending priorities is the authorization of more money for one of Representative Don Young’s (R-AK) infamous Bridges to Nowhere (Section 4005).