U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today announced that, following their push, essential provisions for New York’s water resources are included in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that the EPW Committee approved this week. In the legislation, called “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020,” the senators secured language that would authorize and advance Army Corps studies and projects across New York State. The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
“The inclusion of these vital water infrastructure and flood mitigation projects is good news for everyone in New York,” said Senator Schumer. “Communities in recent years have been battered by severe storms and flooding and shorelines have been gouged by erosion, threatening homes and safety. These projects will give ocean, river and lakefront communities protection and improve the quality of life in New York.”
“I am pleased that important projects to protect New York’s water resources are included in the Senate’s 2020 Water Resources Development Act,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These projects will improve safety and help communities across New York make important repairs and upgrades to their water infrastructure. I’m proud to have secured key provisions for our state in this bill and I will continue working hard to keep our shorelines protected and our waterways safe and clean.”
WRDA authorizes water resources studies and projects and sets policies for navigation, flood control, hydropower, recreation, water supply, and emergency management for the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps). The legislation, which was favorably reported out of the EPW Committee on Wednesday with Senator Gillibrand’s support, includes the following provisions for New York State included at the request of the Senators:
- Authorization for the NY/NJ Harbor anchorages project which would reduce inefficiencies and the risk to port operations by providing anchorage space for larger vessels that currently do not have available anchorage space, as well as reduce navigation constraints caused by inefficient transiting during channel closures.
- Language requiring the Army Corps to provide technical assistance to the non-federal stakeholders for the following projects in New York as part of the Army Corps’ process for recommending studies that are ready for authorization:
- Modification of the authorized funding level for critical restoration projects in the Lake Champlain watershed, New York and Vermont.
- A study of the resiliency of the Allegheny Reservoir, in consultation with the Seneca Nation.
- A feasibility study for the potential projects for the rehabilitation of the Glens Falls Feeder Canal, which begins at the Feeder Dam intersection with the Hudson River in Queensbury, NY, and runs to the confluence of the Old Champlain Canal in Kingsbury, NY.
- A feasibility study for the rehabilitation of the taintergates and guard gate, Caughdenoy Dam, NY, including an evaluation of the rehabilitation work necessary to extend the service life of those structures.
- Environmental assistance project for sanitary sewer upgrades for Village of Whitehall, NY.
These provisions come in addition to previously announced projects secured by the senators in the first draft of 2020 WRDA including:
- Authorization for a new Great Lakes Flood protection study which will specifically look at ways to improve shoreline resiliency and flood protection along the Great Lakes, including Lake Ontario. The study will allow the Army Corps to identify specific actions needed to better protect the shoreline from flooding due to high water levels and coastal erosion — both have caused significant damage for communities in Central and Western New York, as well as along the St. Lawrence Seaway.
- Authorization of the East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay Sandy Reformulation Project which will give authority to the Army Corps to complete initial construction of the project at full federal expense. It will also authorize maintenance of the project once construction is complete. The senators’ request will ensure that if money runs out before construction is complete, the Corps can finish construction without having to seek a cost share from a local sponsor.
- Authorization of the Hashamomuck Cove Coastal Storm Risk Management Project which will authorize the Army Corps to construct the project on Long Island to reduce coastal storm and erosion risks to critical infrastructure, including County Road 48.
- Language to expedite studies currently being conducted by the Army Corps, including: Hudson-Raritan Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Project, Westchester County Streams Flood Risk Management Project, Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Project (FIMP), Hudson River Habitat Restoration Project, and Lake Montauk Harbor Navigation Project.
- The Report on Emergency Flood Protection for Lakes which will require a report on the extent to which the Army Corps’ emergency fund for responding to natural disasters, typically river flooding, applies to lakes flooding. The report will make recommendations on any statutory changes needed to ensure that lakes are eligible for the program.