November 05, 2009

Gillibrand Calls On President To Include Funding For Mid-Atlantic River Basins In Budget

Federal Dollars For Southern Tier, Hudson Valley Would Go Towards Flood Mitigation, Recreation Activities, And Conservation Programs

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called on President Obama to include funding for the Mid-Atlantic River Basin Commissions in his budget next year.   The Mid-Atlantic Basin includes the Delaware, Susquehanna and the Potomac River Basins.  The federal dollars for the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley would go toward flood mitigation, recreation activities, and conservation programs.

"Delaware River Basin is a natural treasure - it helps make the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley ideal communities to work, vacation, and raise a family," said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "However, the Mid-Atlantic River Basin is also one of the most flood-prone regions in the country. The Commissions help develop watershed flood management plans and flood warning systems, as well as provide assistance to local governments. I hope that President Obama will include funding for the Mid-Atlantic River Basin Commissions in his budget next year."

Funding for the river basins has historically been awarded through the appropriations process, including $2.365 million in the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, Congressional requests for this amount were not included in the fiscal year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.

Senator Gillibrand joined with eight of her colleagues to request that the President include the funding in his FY2011 budget and in subsequent years.  Senator Gillibrand was joined by Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) Bob Casey (PA), Arlen Specter (PA), Ted Kaufman (DE), Tom Carper (DE), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Robert Menendez (NJ), Ben Cardin (MD), and Barbara Mikulski (MD).

Full text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr. President,

We write to express our support for the Mid-Atlantic River Basin Commissions.  The three commissions-the Delaware River Basin Commission, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin-all play instrumental roles in regulating the shared waters of their respective river basins.  The Mid-Atlantic River Basin Commissions have a strong record of facilitating successful negotiations between member states and helping their regions prepare for and mitigate unforeseen circumstances that affect the river basins.

Each of the respective compacts creating the three commissions was authorized by Congress.  In addition, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission are constituted under federal-interstate compacts in which the federal government is a signatory member.  These unique compacts are the only two that exist under federal law.

Funding for all three of the compacts has historically been awarded through the congressional annual appropriations process. In addition, the following language was added to Section 5019 of the Water Recourses Development Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-114):

(b) Authorization to Allocate - The Secretary [of the Army] shall allocate funds to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin to fulfill the equitable funding requirements of the respective interstate compacts. (Emphasis added).

The Mid-Atlantic River Basins were provided $2.365 million in the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2009, (P.L. 111-8).  Unfortunately, Congressional requests for this amount were not included in the fiscal year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.  To ensure the success of the Commissions in the future, we respectfully urge you to include $2.365 million in your FY2011 budget and in subsequent years.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.