Larsen Works to Return Waterfront Section of Whatcom Creek Waterway to Local Control</A

Nov 7, 2007

Washington, D.C. — A provision secured by U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to return the waterfront portion of the Whatcom Creek Waterway from federal to local control – an essential step in the City of Bellingham’s Waterfront Redevelopment Project – passed the House late last night over the President’s veto.

“Bellingham’s waterfront redevelopment is a team effort and I am glad I could play a small part to help the project move forward,” said Larsen. “The redevelopment project is all about bringing the waterfront to the community of Bellingham, and returning this part of the waterfront to local control is an important step along the way.”

Larsen worked to make this change in federal law after the Port of Bellingham requested his help to get it done. In February, Larsen wrote to Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Oberstar and key committee leaders asking them to include in the water resources bill a provision to make the Whatcom Creek Waterway locally managed.

A locally-managed inner waterway will allow the City of Bellingham to build the docks needed for recreational boats and make other improvements to prepare the site for a broader mix of uses, including additional public access, moorage, residential, businesses, and light industry. As long as the waterfront section of the waterway was designated as a federal channel, the City needed to comply with certain federal requirements that restricted the waterfront’s use.

“Congressman Larsen showed great leadership in working for the passage of WRDA so that this important legislation can move forward,” said Scott Walker, Port of Bellingham Commission President. “Passage of WRDA is a key component for our waterfront redevelopment because it includes language that will return the Whatcom Waterway to local control allowing us to build new visitor docks, bridges and other essential elements in bringing our community vision to reality.”

The Whatcom Creek Waterway provision passed the House as part of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes more than 200 projects to protect lives and livelihoods in communities across the country from the devastating impacts of flooding by building and repairing floodwalls and levees and restoring wetlands that absorb floodwaters. The bill was vetoed by President Bush last week, but the House overrode the President’s veto last night. A veto-proof majority in the Senate is expected to act soon to override the President’s veto as well.