The US Senate has passed an act to unlock and progress a range of major projects aimed at modernising the country’s waterways infrastructure, US senator Patty Murray posted on her website.

The Waterways Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2022, which was passed by the US senate on 28 July, includes plans for modernising ports and harbours, inland waterway navigation, flood and storm protection and other water resources infrastructure throughout the USA.

Congress has approved WRDA legislation every two years since 2014 to authorise water resources infrastructure projects carried out by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).

This year’s WRDA focuses on locally-driven projects that that have regional and national benefits, rather than on significant national policy changes, according to a 1 August report by Feed and Grain.

“Effective and reliable ports, inland waterways, and flood protection infrastructure helps keep our nation’s economy moving, and with our current supply chain crisis, supporting water infrastructure is more critical than ever,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican leader Sam Graves (R-MO) was quoted as saying by Feed and Grain.

An example of one of the projects included in the new act is the deepening of the Blair Waterway at the Port of Tacoma, in Washington State. The current authorised depth of the federal channel in Tacoma’s Blair Waterway does not meet the draft requirements of today’s fleet of large container ships, which prevents these ships calling at the port.

The new act amends the cost-share for inland waterway projects to 75% from general Treasure funds and 25% from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

“This permanent cost-share change would expedite the modernisation of US inland waterways and bolster the ability of National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) members to fulfil their role in the agricultural value chain to serve American farmers and domestic and global customers,” Feed and Grain reported NGFA president and CEO Mike Seyfert was quoted as saying.

The Senate will now work with the House of Representatives to move a bicameral bill forward to be considered by the House and Senate before the WRDA can be signed into law.

The final WRDA bill should maintain navigational access to the lower Snake River dams (LSRDs), the NGFA added.

“A final WRDA 2022 should neither authorise nor pave the way for the breach or removal of dams in the Columbia-Snake River System, which is the third largest grain export corridor in the world and is crucial to American agriculture’s global competitiveness,” Seyfert added.