Press Release

Welch Priorities for Vermont’s Flood-Impacted Communities Included in Water Resources Development Act, Advanced by Committee with Bipartisan Support

May 23, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced several of his legislative priorities included in the biennial Water Resources Development Act of 2024 were advanced by the Environment and Public Works Committee with bipartisan support. The legislation will now be considered by the full Senate.  

The Water Resources Development Act of 2024 (WRDA 2024) authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform vital projects including flood control, water navigation, and ecosystem restoration.

“Investing in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ work is vital, especially in states that have experienced the devastating impacts of climate change firsthand, like Vermont. The Water Resources Development Act of 2024 will invest in Vermont’s water infrastructure and protect our watersheds. This bipartisan bill includes provisions I fought for that will support communities impacted by last summer’s catastrophic flooding, invest in infrastructure repairs and development, and combat invasive species,” said Sen. Welch. “I’m thankful my colleagues advanced these provisions with bipartisan support, and urge the full Senate to support this bill.” 

WRDA 2024 advanced out of the Committee with bipartisan support. Senator Welch’s priorities for Vermont in the bill include:

  1. Lowering the Non-federal Cost-Share of the Lake Champlain Watershed Environmental Assistance Program for Vermont: With this legislation, the cost share will be 10% non-federal for underserved communities, down from 35%. This change will make the program more affordable to the towns that most need it. 
  1. Lowering the State of Vermont Cost-Share for work on the Wrightsville and East Barre Dams: The cost share for the two dams would be lowered to roughly 7.1% non-federal, down from 35%. Wrightsville’s dam was nearly breached in the July 2023 floods. This change will make projects on these three dams more affordable for the state of Vermont in the future. 
  1. Authorizing $100 Million for the Waterbury Dam Rehabilitation Project: Previously authorized for $60 million, the project cost estimate was recently increase to approximately $100 million. This bill would provide authorization for the funds needed to complete the project.  
  1. Authorizing a New Flood Control Study of the Winooski River: This bill will authorize a new flood control study of the Winooski River watershed, which would examine how to make the Winooski River and the communities along the river more resilient to future floods and other climate change-fueled natural disasters.  
  1. Reauthorizing the Aquatic Plant Control Program: The Aquatic Plant Control Research Program is valuable to Vermont’s efforts to combat the spread of water chestnut, a nonnative plant that has threatened to disrupt ecosystems and water access in Lake Champlain. Reauthorization ensures the state can continue using the program in years to come.