Fight for WRDA isn’t over yet

It’s been seven years in the making, but Louisiana finally has Congress’ blessing on the Water Resources Development Act.

Monday afternoon, the Senate made it final with an 81-12 vote.

But there’s another showdown looming, however. This time, the gunslinger is none other than W. himself.

Arguing the bill is packed with pork spending and pet projects, the president has made no secret of his displeasure with WRDA. His administration has made no secret that President Bush will likely veto the measure when it arrives on his desk. This go-around, however, Louisiana’s delegation – along with lawmakers from a number of states facing levee and water resource woes – have pulled together enough votes to override Bush’s threatened veto.

The long-awaited and much-needed WRDA package, which includes the go-ahead for the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system, finally appears to be close to being back on track.

As U.S. Sen. Mary Landreiu said from the Senate floor shortly before the vote, this bill is not going to solve every problem. It won’t build every levee. But it is nonetheless needed.

And as the Gulf Coast learned when hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared ashore, continuing to do nothing while the issue is argued is not an option.

The nation’s current investment in our waterways is at an all-time low. According to Landrieu, we’d have to go back to 1929 to match the funding level. And in the meantime, waterways continue to dry up, levees crumble and drinking sources become contaminated.

WRDA’s approval for Louisiana came not a moment too soon. But the fight isn’t over.

Now’s the time for those of us who live, work and play in this region to contact the White House and express support for WRDA. Urge President Bush to sign this measure, and to fund the Morganza project soon.

We’re close to getting the funding we need for the hurricane protection we deserve. Our work is not yet done.