U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a 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) released this week by the EPW Committee. In the legislation, called “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020,” the senators secured language that would authorize a new Great Lakes Comprehensive Flood Protection Study, the Army Corps East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay Hurricane Sandy Reformulation Project, and the Hashamomuck Cove coastal storm risk management project. The bill also includes language to expedite completion of Army Corps studies that will lead to several new projects key to New York’s water restoration, risk management, and navigation. Schumer and Gillibrand also secured a report on emergency flood protection for lakes in the new legislation, a critical piece to improving the use of existing Army Corps authorities for Lake Ontario flood protection.
“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 very pleased that these vitally important projects were included in the Senate’s draft WRDA bill this year,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These projects will help to better protect communities from the future risks of high water levels on Lake Ontario, from storm surge and extreme weather along our Atlantic coast. I’m proud to have fought for 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 as the legislation progresses.”
WRDA has recently been passed every two years and 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 will be formally introduced and marked-up by the Senate EPW Committee after the Senate fully reconvenes in the coming weeks, includes the following provisions for New York State included at the request of the Senators:
- 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, New York Harbor Anchorages Navigation 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.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.