H.R. 723: Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act

H.R. 723

Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act

Rep. James R. Langevin

June 11, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 723, the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on February 14, 2013 by Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark-up and reported the bill by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 723 authorizes the National Park Service to study 86 miles of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers in the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  The bill also requires the Secretary to report to Congress on the study. 


According to the Committee on Natural Resources[1], The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 was intended to put a development freeze on rivers to preserve their ‘‘free-flowing’’ values against the influx of man-made dams being constructed at the time. Typically, rivers that may be included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers program are first studied for their suitability. The river is evaluated on its ‘‘free-flowing’’ condition and classified as wild, scenic or recreational, depending on the amount of development on and near the river. If a river receives a Wild and Scenic River designation, no new dams may be constructed and federally assisted water resource development projects would not be allowed.

According to recent testimony, the low-water volume and low gradient make any type of hydropower projects economically unfeasible on the river segments proposed for study in H.R. 723, and as a result may be a viable addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

An identical bill (H.R. 3388) passed the House in the 112th Congress by voice vote on July 23, 2012.

[1] See Committee Report 113-73


CBO estimates that, “implementing the legislation would cost about $400,000 over the next three years, assuming the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting H.R. 723 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”[1]