levees would be diminished. However, in Section 110 of the 1990 Water Resources Development Act, Congress instructed COE to rebuild the leeves. Even under the new cost-sharing rules the federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost of this rebuilding.
Under the 1990 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorized to enter into long-term contracts with farmers to take former wetlands in agricultural use out of production and to allow those lands to be restored as wetlands. In exchange, the farmers receive annual payments. The 1990 Farm Bill limits the number of acres eligible for the program to 200,000 per year, with a maximum cap of 1 million acres. However, each acre of cropland taken out of production and restored as wetland will no longer be eligible for USDA program benefits. Congress should request that USDA investigate where and how an expansion of the agricultural Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) would result in savings in USDA farm program expenditures, and the saved funds should be reallocated to expanding the WRP beyond 1 million acres.
In addition, existing short-term agricultural set-aside programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Easement Program (EEP), and the Wetland Reserve Program of the Food, Agricultural, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624) should be amended to ensure that riparian zones and floodplains of all kinds are eligible for inclusion in these programs along with wetlands.
Many lakes, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries are suffering from excessive loadings of nutrients. Prime sources of those nutrients may be discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agricultural fertilizers. In some cases it may be cost-effective for municipalities operating sewage treatment plants or for adjacent landowners who would benefit directly from improved water quality to pay farmers to take land out of production, to pay for adoption of best management practices, or to pay to restore wetlands. Restored wetlands can provide important water quality benefits. Former wetlands adjacent to rivers, lakes, or estuaries that are restored as