PANEL APPROVES WATER PROJECTS

PANEL APPROVES WATER PROJECTS

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a slightly expanded version of legislation authorizing construction of over $1 billion in various navigation and flood control projects.

During a markup session Tuesday, the panel added five projects to the measure that originally contained 11 water development plans.The committee's action keeps the bill on track for consideration of the bill on the Senate floor sometime next month.

The five additions include four flood control projects and a proposal to deepen the Port Sutton Channel at Tampa Bay from 34 feet to 42 feet at a cost of $2 million.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., explained the new projects were justified for inclusion in the bill because they have completed the Corps of Engineers' planning and application process and cleared all other environmental and engineering hurdles.

When he and three other senators introduced the legislation earlier this month, they referred to it as an experiment to see if Congress can return to a tradition of regular, biannual authorization bills for corps projects.

Sen. Moynihan, Sen. Quentin Burdick, D-N.D., Sen. Robert T. Stafford, R- Vt., and Sen. Steven D. Symms, R-Idaho, also said it would be a test to see if Congress could keep the bill at its relatively modest level.

We are attempting to re-establish a regular cycle of water resources development, Sen. Moynihan said Tuesday.

The measure now authorizes six navigation, eight flood control and two environmental projects.

Committee members noted the bill includes two procedural reforms:

* A cost ceiling - projects may not exceed their current cost estimates.

* Automatic de-authorization in five years if no further funds are spent for construction or planning during that period. The provision is designed to prevent an ancient backlog of authorized projects sitting on the books.

One provision of the Senate bill would deepen the existing channels in the lower Schuylkill River near Philadelphia, and the Delaware River in the vicinity of Camden, N.J., to 40 feet at a cost of $17 million.

Another proposal would spend $775 million for a new lock and dam structure on the lower Ohio River near Olmstead, Ill., to replace existing locks and dams 52 and 53.