Policy Priorities

The Water Protection Network advocates for federal water policies, projects, and permits that are environmentally and economically sound. Our policy priorities focus on increasing protection for our nation’s waters to improve fish and wildlife habitat, protect communities from storms and floods, increase resiliency to climate change, and reduce wasteful government spending.

Read Highlights of WRDA 2018: A fact sheet that highlights WRDA’s progress on Water Protection Network priorities, along with a summary of provisions that are both helpful and harmful for sound water resources planning.

The Water Protection Network works to:

Climate change has increased the frequency and severity of floods and storms while aggregating stress on fish and wildlife. These impacts make it even more important that we ensure federally-subsidized water projects do not harm the nation’s rivers, coasts, and wetlands and their ability to help mitigate these climate change impacts. The Network works to ensure that federal water policies compel the use of non-structural and restoration solutions that preserve our natural systems whenever feasible.

Inappropriate federal policies promote floodplain and coastal development, putting more people in harm’s way and destroying natural systems that protect communities from storms, floods, and climate change impacts. The Network works to modernize the National Flood Insurance Program and federal planning pre-disaster to reduce flood risk by protecting ecosystems and natural floodplain functions.

The Network obtained critical reforms to Corps of Engineers planning in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which require:  modernization of the Corps’ project planning guidelines; external independent peer review for costly or controversial Corps project studies; and full mitigation for the adverse impacts of Corps projects based on detailed mitigation plans. WRDA 2007 also requires that all federal water projects protect and restore the environment. The Network works to ensure effective implementation of these important reforms.

Many federal water projects are operated in a manner that causes extensive and avoidable harm to the environment, wildlife, public safety, and the economy. The Network works to require the Corps of Engineers to regularly reevaluate and update the operation of its projects and decommission those projects that are no longer in the public interest.

Legacy projects – federal water projects authorized decades ago yet never constructed – remain major threats to the environment and compete for limited federal resources. The Network works to establish a process to prioritize new projects and deauthorize destructive legacy projects that fail to meet modern planning requirements.

Federal investments should prioritize protecting and restoring our rivers, wetlands, and coasts over constructing large structural water projects that harm the environment. The Network works to assist our members in steering more federal resources towards restoration.

Many Network members are working to strengthen the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program, which imposes restrictions and permit requirements on development and other activities that affect the nation’s rivers, streams, and wetlands. The Network works to help our members engage in these important efforts.

The Network and member groups led successful efforts to ensure that the new Water Resources Planning Principles, Requirements and Guidelines (PR&G) focus on protecting the environment.  The PR&G require planners to recognize the importance of:  healthy and resilient ecosystems; protecting and restoring floodplains; analyzing and accounting for climate change; and utilizing environmentally protective nonstructural solutions. The PR&G apply to both new projects and project operations, and for the first time direct agencies to account for ecological damage as a project cost. Unfortunately, Congress has prohibited the Corps from using the PR&G through an appropriations bill rider.  The Network is working to remove that prohibition.