Issue Brief: The Water Resources Development Act


The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) supports a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that promotes sustainable water infrastructure projects, while also addressing climate change impacts, biodiversity, and environmental justice.

Operating through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. government has responsibility for developing and maintaining U.S. ports, harbors, and waterways as a means of facilitating navigation and promoting commerce. USACE also protects communities against floods by building dams and levees, and other means. In addition, USACE undertakes ecosystem restoration projects — protecting not only people and infrastructure, but also restoring and preserving the country's vital natural resources.

Congress first enacted WRDA in 1974, as a measure to identify and authorize funding for USACE projects and provide policy guidance. Since 2014, Congress passed WRDA bills on a biennial basis due to its essential role in the 50 states, territories, and Tribal nations.

WRDA 2022 authorizes an estimated $40 billion for USACE to implement critical infrastructure projects, studies, and policies related to our nation’s waterways. The passage of WRDA 2022 also seeks to protect communities from our changing climate while conserving our natural resources.

Bill Summary

On May 16, 2022, Representative Peter DeFazio (OR) introduced H.R. 7776, the Water Resources and Development Act of 2022. A Senate version of the bill, S.4137, was introduced by Senator Thomas Carper (DE) on May 4, 2022. Both bills support USACE's water infrastructure projects, studies, and policies that address wastewater; stormwater runoff; flood control; sea-level rise; damaged shorelines and natural landscape protection; storm damage and extreme weather risks; open and recreational space preservation; ecosystem restoration; and nature-based solutions.

WRDA 2022 also includes language to help USACE mitigate climate change impacts and promotes community resiliency and sustainability. Environmental Justice and equity are also components outlined in these bills. Specifically, USACE would receive authorization to address water resource needs and challenges facing economically disadvantaged communities, communities of color, and Tribal and rural communities.

During the legislative process, the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 became part of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.

Recent Action

On June 8, 2022, H.R. 7776 passed the House by a vote of 384-37 .

On July 28, 2022, H.R. 7776 passed the Senate by a vote of 93-1, with amendments, sending it back to the House.

On December 8, 2022, H.R. 7776 passed the House by a vote of 350-80.

On December 15, 2022, H.R. 7776 passed the Senate by a vote of 83-11.

On December 23, 2022, the president signed H.R. 7776 into law.


H.R. 7776: Representative Peter DeFazio (OR) and cosponsors.

S. 4137: Senator Thomas Carper (DE) and cosponsors.


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs