Editorial: Water resources bill is important to Great Lakes
Battle Creek Enquirer
Published November 13, 2007
Strong bipartisan support for the Water Resources Development Act led Congress last week to override President Bush's veto of the $23 billion measure. It was the first time Congress has overridden a veto during the Bush presidency. The House voted 361-54 and the Senate voted 79-14 for the bill, despite the president's claims that it was too costly and contained unnecessary projects.
We're glad that Congress understood the importance of the legislation, which is the first water system restoration and flood control authorization passed by Congress since 2000.
The measure is especially important for the Great Lakes region. The bill funds hundreds of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration. It includes $35 million to help resolve the problem of sewage overflows into the Great Lakes, which increasingly have led to beach closures.
The bill also is an economic stimulus for the region, specifying $342 million for a commercial shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie.
Elsewhere in the nation, the legislation will help hasten recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina; support restoration of the Florida Everglades; and fund navigational improvements and ecosystem restoration for the Upper Mississippi River region.
It is indeed a mammoth venture, costing $11.2 billion over the next four years and $12 billion in the decade after that. But it will help address a backlog of $58 billion in projects facing the Army Corps of Engineers and will help improve both the economic and environmental value of our nation's waterways. Such natural resources need to be protected and enhanced.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, was among House members who voted to override the president's veto. While he usually sides with the president, Walberg was clear in why the country cannot afford to delay the water resources legislation: "Every day we wait to address these problems, they get worse and the solutions get more costly."
Investing in our waterways today will help ensure their economic viability into the future. That is a price worth paying.