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Mullin' It Over Column

Keeping Our Water Infrastructure Open for Business

By Congressman Markwayne Mullin

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Washington, June 6, 2018 | comments

Oklahomans utilize our state’s vast infrastructure systems every day.  Aside from driving on paved roads, Oklahomans often cross over an important economic contributor for the state: the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS).  Without this vital waterway, MKARNS would need 398,493 trucks or 99,623 railcars to transport the entire system’s 9,962,334 tons of commerce.

While not all Americans take part in the day-to-day logistics of our nation’s water infrastructure, our ports, inland waterways, locks, and dams make up $3.8 billion in goods moved each day to American and global markets.  Our water infrastructure is the link between goods made in America and consumers around the world.

This week in Congress, the House will consider H.R. 8, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  Congress considers WRDA every two years to improve and invest in the water infrastructure projects that are vitally important to our national economy.  This bipartisan piece of legislation allows the Army Corps of Engineers to authorize locally driven projects, strengthen economic development and competition in the marketplace, and accelerate the process of projects, carrying them out in a highly-productive and cost-efficient manner.

In Oklahoma, our ports and inland waterways are a vital part of our country’s economy and workforce.  The national economic impact of the 445-mile MKARNS, which includes the Port of Muskogee and the Port of Catoosa, is remarkable.  It provides $8.5 billion in sales, $289 million in taxes, and 55,872 jobs to our country’s economy.  That same economic impact would take as many as 221,896 trucks or 57,693 railcars.

However, MKARNS currently faces a backlog of $150 million in critical maintenance and has a 50 percent chance of complete failure in the next 5 years.  It is crucial that WRDA provides the Army Corps of Engineers with the resources it needs to maintain our waterways. 

The completion of WRDA every two years provides certainty for the Army Corps of Engineers and their ongoing work to improve our water infrastructure.  With an economic impact this great, we cannot allow Oklahoma’s waterways to fail.  I look forward to continuing my work in Congress to ensure that MKARNS has the resources it needs to continue to positively impact our country’s economy for many years to come.

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