Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Contains Optional Labeling Provision

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 is a key piece of legislation. The bill would authorize $9.3 billion for improvements and maintenance for ports, coastal navigation channels, river channels, canals, dams, locks and levees, as well as funding for ecosystem restoration projects and financial assistance for public drinking water and wastewater systems.

WRDA contains a “voluntary” labeling fee provision for the right of a brand/customer to place a label on their packaging stating that they are contributing to the water infrastructure fund and supporting clean water – each label would require a 3 cent per unit contribution to the Fund.

The labeling provisions would be overseen by FDA, and although not specifically stated, would likely focus on food and beverage customers who wish to participate in the right to label their products. Fees collected would be used to pay for clean water infrastructure as well as port and marine related infrastructure.

The bill also expands the existing WaterSense labeling program, currently overseen by EPA, by adding products that may qualify to carry the label should they meet program requirements.

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee recently passed the bill out of Committee by a 19-1 vote. Senate Republican leadership is working for floor passage this summer. The FDA would undertake a rulemaking to determine label standards, including size, recyclability and other compatibility issues.

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