Vitter Announces Improved Levee Vegetation Policy in Final Water Resources Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. David Vitter, lead Senate Republican negotiator for the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA), announced that the final bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers to revise its new levee vegetation policy and take into account regional variation. Without the change in WRRDA, the Corps’ policy would have forced local interests to remove vegetation from levees – at 100% local costs – regardless of whether it damaged the structural integrity of the levee.

“The integrity of our levees is obviously a huge priority in Louisiana, but the Corps’ current policy doesn’t work for every levee or every community,” Vitter said. “By reforming this policy, we’ll take some of the burden of levee vegetation removal off of local communities.”

U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), on which Vitter serves as the top Republican, expressed concerned that the Corps’ vegetation management policy failed to accommodate for regional variation. Under WRRDA, the Corps will be required to consider regional and watershed variances based on a variety of factors including soil conditions, hydrology, environmental resources, and levee performance history.

The Secretary must revise the vegetation management guidelines no later than two years after the date of enactment of this Act.

The final bill includes other provisions that directly benefit Louisiana including:

Authorization for Morganza to the Gulf

Authorization to deepen the Port of Iberia

Coastal and ecosystem restoration through the authorization of six Louisiana Coastal Area projects

Critical reforms to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that expedite project delivery and penalize the Corps for missing deadlines

Authorization for the Corps to perform future levee lifts for the hurricane protection system

Increase in Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund expenditures, prioritization for funding for high-and medium-use ports, and an increase in the threshold for 100% Corps operations and management responsibility from 45-ft to 50-ft

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