JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The U.S. House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (the “Water Bill), and it doesn’t include Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s amendment to authorize the deepening of the St. Johns River to 47 feet.
But Congressman Ander Crenshaw tells WOKV News that it can still happen before the bill finally becomes a law.
“I think it’s gonna happen, but it’s gonna take some time,” he says. “It’s gonna take some hard work.”
Crenshaw says dredging JaxPort’s channel on the river to 47 feet is vital to Northeast Florida.
“It obviously means more jobs, more trade, more economic growth,” he says.
Earlier in the year, the U.S. Senate passed its own version of the Water Bill. And now that the House passed its version, the House and Senate will the move to a committee of conferences on the individual bills.
“And now I’m gonna push to make sure that when the House and Senate have a conference, that we have another crack,” Crenshaw says.
But he says there’s still good news for Jacksonville in the bill passed by the House on Wednesday.
“In this bill, Chairman Shuster listened to Corrine Brown and myself and included a provision that will continue initial design and planning of the dredging project, but JaxPort will have to use non-federal funds. But that will keep the project on schedule.”
Crenshaw reminds that Brown’s amendment is only for the authorization of the project.
“This is a long term project,” he says. “It takes a while, and it’s very expensive.”
And he says there are a lot of U.S. ports competing.
“There are a lot of needs, and there’s only limited resources,” he says.
Crenshaw says he believes it could be anywhere from three months to a year before Congress presents a final bill.