Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today announced that she is urging her colleagues to authorize the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act. The study would be the first of its kind to coordinate a strategy and recommend actions to manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline and protect nearby communities and the local economy. Multiple federal agencies and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed conducting this study, which could result in more Army Corps projects in New York that would make the shoreline less vulnerable to erosion, repetitive flooding, nutrient runoff, and aging infrastructure.
“As families and businesses surrounding the Great Lakes continue to recover from the disastrous flooding that affected the Lake Ontario shoreline last year, we must also work to protect against any future damage to the Great Lakes shoreline,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “This study would be a critical first step to identify vulnerabilities that exist along the shoreline so that we can put the right protections in place for our local communities. I will continue to fight in the Senate to protect the Great Lakes and ensure the safety of their surrounding communities.”
“Climate change has proven to be devastating to our Great Lakes coasts and communities,” said Brian Smith, associate executive director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “We must adapt to the reality of climate change by protecting our lakes and improving the resiliency of our coastlines. We commend Senator Gillibrand for her leadership to protect our lakes and coastal communities.”
“The Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study will identify risks and vulnerabilities along the region’s built shoreline and to the ecosystem. This much needed study will help communities and agencies develop plans to improve coastal resiliency and manage climate change impacts on lakes and our communities,” said Alliance for the Great Lakes Vice President for Policy Molly Flanagan.
The Great Lakes are the largest surface freshwater system on Earth. The Great Lakes coastline is critical to a robust economy, which includes 200 million tons of cargo shipped annually, 56 billion gallons of water per day for municipal, agricultural, and industrial use, and over 250 species of fish that support a $4 billion sports fishing industry. The Great Lakes region is home to over 30 million people, and its parks, wilderness areas, and beaches are important to the recreational activities, such as boating and tourism, that are vital to the regional economy. The Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study would inform important decisions concerning the well-being of a diverse ecosystem of wetlands, bluffs, dunes, beaches, and species that are either threatened or endangered. A similar study, the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, was conducted after Superstorm Sandy by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which enabled local communities to better understand changing flood risks and provided tools to help those communities better prepare for future floods.