Gossett, Rawl: Federal water resources bill a big win for South Carolina

October 31, 2013 

— As representatives of South Carolina’s business and manufacturing communities, we commend our state’s congressional delegation for its unanimous vote in favor of House bill 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. This is critically important to business, manufacturing and economic growth throughout our state.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill with a 417-3 vote. At a time when it seems Congress can agree on little, this vote represents a moment of bipartisanship that will modernize our nation’s water infrastructure in an effort to keep the United States competitive in the global marketplace. Our delegation’s unified support helped ensure that the bill included provisions that benefit our state ports’ infrastructure in Charleston and Georgetown.

The bill allows projects such as deepening the Charleston Harbor to move forward if they have a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief’s report and non-federal funding. This new flexibility is significant to the Port of Charleston, because currently new projects have to wait for Congress to pass a new water resources bill, which it is supposed to do every two years but hasn’t done in seven years.

The Port of Charleston should receive its chief’s report in about 18 months, and the new flexibility eliminates the possibility that congressional inaction would bring Charleston’s dredging to a halt, endangering South Carolina’s economy as other countries move forward with infrastructure projects while we were mired in red tape. Fortunately, our House delegation understands how critical it is that the deepening project move forward without unnecessary delays.

When our General Assembly acted in 2012 to set aside the full projected cost of construction to deepen the harbor, it prepared our state to take full advantage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Both our General Assembly and our U.S. House delegation deserve tremendous thanks for putting South Carolina in a position to grow with the global marketplace by improving a vital piece of our infrastructure.

We are hopeful that this language will be included in the conference committee report. Infrastructure must be a priority if we are to continue to grow our economy through private-sector job creation. We look forward to the final passage of this bill and to the deepening of the Charleston Harbor as quickly as possible.

Lewis Gossett

President and CEO, S.C. Manufacturers Alliance

Otis Rawl

President and CEO, S.C. Chamber of Commerce

Columbia

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