The Pittsburgh Engineer District received new and increased authorizations to support water infrastructure and civil works projects within its 26,000 square-mile region with the approval of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, signed into law by President Joe Biden.
“Through WRDA, Congress provides our district with the opportunity to address critical water issues, environmental challenges, and authorization to conduct studies that can lead to improvements in the way we do business,” said Col. Adam Czekanski, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District.
WRDA, typically updated every two years, grants the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorization to address critical water resources and support water-related developments and concerns across the Nation.
“This is a fantastic way to start the new year because WRDA gives our district the authority to help the public,” said Vince DeCarlo, the acting deputy district engineer for the Pittsburgh District.
The authorization became public law Dec. 27 after President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, which includes WRDA 2022.
For the Pittsburgh District’s region, WRDA 2022 authorizes wastewater infrastructure and stormwater management projects to include a new $20 million program for the city of Pittsburgh, $30 million for Allegheny County, an increase of $10 million; $410 million for the South-Central Pennsylvania environmental infrastructure program, an increase of $10 million; and realigns the existing Section 571 to authorize up to $120 million for northern West Virginia.
The nearly 400-page act authorizes projects and studies that add hydropower capacity, improve aquatic ecosystem restoration, initiate a dredging projection pilot program, and combat harmful algal blooms.
However, WRDA is strictly an authorization legislation. Therefore, it does not include funding. Instead, Congress provides funding through the Energy and Water Development Act and supplemental appropriations.
WRDA 2022 further impacts the Pittsburgh District’s operations in the following sections:
Section 8305 adds hydrilla to the list of invasive species corps researchers can investigate. Within the Pittsburgh District’s boundaries, harmful algal blooms have impacted the Allegheny Reservoir and reservoirs and lakes in the state of Ohio. In addition, hydrilla has been harmful by choking out aquatic life and causing damage to recreational boat motors.
Section 8201 renews authorization for a feasibility study and a flood risk-management project for the Chartiers Creek watershed in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Section 8225 allows the corps to pursue federal and non-federal modifications to add hydropower generation and energy storage capacities in West Virginia. The list of authorized projects includes the district’s Hildebrand Lock and Dam on the Monongahela River and Stonewall Jackson Dam in Weston, West Virginia.
Other authorizations the Pittsburgh District received under WRDA 2022 include planning assistance to states, research and development, and funding to process permits.
Pittsburgh District’s 26,000 square miles include portions of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland, and southwestern New York. The district’s jurisdiction has more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose flood-control reservoirs, 42 local flood-protection projects, and other projects to protect and enhance the Nation’s water resources, infrastructure, and environment.