I’m a fan of Steven Wright’s sardonic humor and deadpan delivery (“I bought some powdered water… but I don’t know what to add to it.”).  Apparently, the US Army Corps of Engineers is also a fan of Wright-esque word play based on a recently announced series of WRDA implementation guidance listening sessions where they are asking non-federal sponsors to —wait for it— speak up!

All joking aside, starting on March 16th, the Corps will be hosting five listening sessions to hear from stakeholders about their policy priorities in the Water Resource Development Act of 2020.  My hat’s off to Congress for maintaining bi-annual consideration of WRDA for the eighth consecutive year.  Now it’s up to the non-federal sponsor community to ensure that the intent of Congress, or the priorities for your water resource objectives, are reflected in the actual implementation guidance.  And that’s no small task.

If you’re new to WRDA or the federal civil works process, you can check out previous WRDA implementation processes and guidance here.  If this is not your first water rodeo you can skip ahead to the March 8th Federal Register notice which lays out the details of the who, what, when, why and where.  But for anyone interested in participating in this process, here’s what you really need to know:

  • The Corps will not produce guidance on every single provision in WRDA 2020. Provisions are pre-selected by the Corps. If there is a provision of importance to you that is not included on the list, speak up. Likewise, if there is a provision that you think deems priority consideration, speak up about that too.
  • In addition to policy items, the Corps is all ears regarding the various reports called for in WRDA 2020. If you have something to add regarding a report, make your voice heard.
  • After you speak up, be prepared to follow up in writing.  Comments, statements, and suggested language can be submitted for consideration.  Encourage like-minded stakeholders to weigh in with you.
  • Each listening session will be different, so focus in on the sessions most relevant to your civil works interests. For example, the March 23rd session will focus on “Flood Risk and Coastal Risk Storm Damage” provisions. However, it is an open and public process, so if you have the bandwidth for all five sessions, nothing will hold you back from speaking up time, and time, and time, and time, and time again.

Happy listening.

Julie Minerva is a Washington, DC based infrastructure advocate who in good, bad, and uncertain times specializes in Civil Works and all things related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. You can find her at: [email protected]