Weekly Feature

2018-06-13 / Local News

Funding secured for Army Corps account to fund Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study

Increased funding was recently secured in the House of Representatives for Army Corps Investigations Account, which funds studies like the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed this study to coordinate a strategy across the Great Lakes states to efficiently and effectively manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline.

Working in a bipartisan effort with Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Rep. Chris Collins’ amendment was added to the FY19 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.

Along the shores sit 60 commercial harbors that move more than 123 million tons of cargo each year and boasts a $14 billion recreation and tourism economy, which all could be devastated by severe weather and high water levels. The GLCRS would provide shoreline communities with more information, allowing them to become better equipped to protect their shoreline during such occurrences.

“Being from Western New York, we are fortunate to have the Great Lakes not only as an essential part of our region’s economy, but to enjoy with our children and families,” said Collins. “Last spring, Lake Ontario experienced the worst flooding we have seen in decades, devastating businesses and municipalities and destroying homes. In order to preserve our lakes for generations to come, and to prevent future destruction to businesses and homes, we need more information on the best ways to protect our shorelines.”

“This study will take a holistic view of how to make our Great Lakes coastline more resilient with an eye towards using more sustainable green or natural infrastructure to reduce runoff, mitigate erosion and flooding, and protect property,” said Kaptur. “Ultimately, this approach will save money as the Corps looks to fulfill its mission in the face of changing climate.”

The GLCRS was authorized in 1986, and although it is a priority of the Army Corps, has not been funded. Collins’ amendment would increase the Army Corps account by $1.2 million, which is the amount needed to cover the first phase of the study.

The Collins amendment, which passed the House unanimously, comes on the heels of the United States Senate clearing the Water Resource Development Act, which included a new authorization for the GLCRS. House passage of H.R. 5895, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.

In February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially made a funding request to the administration, noting that the study would be focused on looking at the vulnerabilities and threats along the 5,200-mile Great Lakes coast.

David Schulenberg, chief of the planning branch for the Corps’ Buffalo district noted that the Corps began discussing the report in December 2016.

According to Collins’ office, the Great Lakes coast drives $14 billion of tourism and recreation economy annually.

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