WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, applauded the passage of her Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act through committee this week. The legislation is aimed at boosting efforts to revitalize waterfront communities, including Wisconsin towns and cities along the Great Lakes, rivers and inland lakes. The bill will now move to the full Senate.
“From Milwaukee to Superior, waterfront communities are a critical piece of Wisconsin’s economy and I’m proud to find support for this commonsense legislation to support our waterfronts,” said Senator Baldwin. “Not only do they directly impact the quality of life for so many Wisconsin residents but they are also vital to our long term economic security. The Great Lakes are linked to millions of U.S. jobs and billions of dollars in annual wages. Boosting our waterfront communities is not just an environmental goal, it is an economic necessity, and I look forward to seeing this bill move forward to pass the full Congress and be signed into law.”
The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act will support local efforts to take advantage of water resources by attracting water-dependent industries and investments that leverage water sustainability, revitalizing neighborhoods and enhancing recreation and tourism. In addition, Senator Baldwin’s legislation will support waterfront communities by helping them plan for their future and attract private and non-profit investments.
Many waterfront communities were built around their water resources years ago, and are now working to reposition and overcome issues such as limited public access and poor alignment with modern development. In addition to adapting to economic shifts, waterfront communities are facing pressures to meet increasing demands on water resources; make resilient investments that can withstand weather extremes like storms, floods, and fluctuating lake levels; and adapt to changing ecosystem conditions that range from shoreline erosion to stresses on fisheries.
Waterfront planning and implementation requires communities to navigate intergovernmental hurdles, work across constituent groups and agencies, and secure financing. But many communities lack the tools to make it from vision to reality—despite the economic returns from revitalization and the payoff that resiliency preparation can provide in the long term.
The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act aims to solve these problems by:
· Creating a voluntary Resilient Waterfront Community designation within the Department of Commerce. The designation recognizes communities that adopt a waterfront revitalization and resiliency plan integrating economic, ecosystem, and infrastructure challenges and opportunities.
· Establishing a Resilient Waterfront Communities network to support sharing of best practices, highlight Resilient Waterfront Communities, and help attract new investment.
Senator Baldwin previously introduced the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act in 2016, which passed the Senate and enjoyed support from several Wisconsin leaders and regional and national stakeholders, but stalled in the House of Representatives. Baldwin is continuing her efforts this Congress to push this legislation forward to promote economic development of Wisconsin’s waterfronts.