USACE Work Plan (6 Days)
NFIP Expiration (16 days)
Government Shutdown (23 Days)
(As of 11/14/18 at 6:00PM)
The Government Accountability Office said in a report last Wednesday that the Corps currently lacks indicators of deferred maintenance, which prevents it from executing project maintenance on schedule. The study was called for by ‘persistent schedule delays and cost overruns’ which have prompted Congress to ‘explore funding and management alternatives.’ The Corps currently makes requests for construction funds in increments, which often results in delays and increased costs as funds are procured on a rolling basis. The GAO recommended simply that the Corps should ‘change its budgeting approach to provide full funding for construction project or focus finances on fewer initiatives first.’ Also, the Corps needs to create its own definition of ‘deferred maintenance’ as none currently exists.
Recovery in Florida after Hurricane Michael is going well in the eyes of the Corps, who is boasting about its number of long hours worked and number of roofs covered in a short time. We wonder why the Corps didn’t flex its muscle like this in Puerto Rico after Maria.
Sediment from Mount St. Helens is clogging outflows into the Cowlitz River, which could impede shipping along the Columbia River waterfront. As much as 12 million cubic yards of fine silt and sediment poured through the Toutle River in 2007, although the average figures for sediment flow remain around 1 to 2 million cubic yards per year. The Corps of Engineers estimated the cost of sediment removal and maintenance to be $384 million over roughly 17 years through a series of operations including raising the earthen dam height, construction of upstream sediment retention structures, and maintenance dredging. Siltation levels are greatest in the summer when river flows are slow. The Corps’ involvement in the project is strictly limited by its authority in the region which is specifically for flood risk management.
Sediment Backup at Mount St. Helens – Photo: Corps of Engineers
Climate Central and Zillow have teamed up to deliver a useful flood mapping resource for homeowners and home buyers. The joint effort identified new homes in low-lying coastal communities in all coastal states and projects how many will be exposed to chronic or ‘nuisance’ flooding into the future. The data makes predictions about sea level rise using decision data that reflects choices the world is making to cut greenhouse gas emissions today.
Biscayne Bay, Miami, FL - Earlier this year the Corps of Engineers agreed to settle a lawsuit with environmentalists over coral damages during the ‘Deep Dredge’ project which deepened the Port of Miami for supertankers in 2015. Reports describe how the battle is between which is more valuable to South Florida: Preserving vital aquatic ecosystems or revenue from supertankers. The Corps, who vows to have learned from its mistakes, said it will undertake a 3 year $3 million dollar study to determine harmful effects on the environment. Some estimates show that reef populations have declined up to 80%, while reefs face further peril from climate change. When initially constructed, the project was rushed and did not account for potential design changes to ship sizes and maritime technology that would become available. Now ships moving about the harbor face delays from navigation concerns such as trouble turning due to narrow channels. Florida Harbor Pilots Board of Directors chair, Captain Jonathan Nitkin, claims bigger ships and keeping the port vital should ‘trump the reef’. Environmentalists disagree, calculating the economic value of the reefs at $3.3 billion in 2003 (a present value of roughly $4.4 billion), and noting the short-sightedness of the previous and current environmental assessments. Which would you prefer? See infographic below.
Photo: Corps of Engineers
Northern Mariana Islands get tough on environmental issues – Congressman Sablan has introduced a bill that bans the commercial sale of shark fins nationwide. With a democratic majority in the House, Sablan is confident that alongside Jared Huffman, the likely Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans in the 116th Congress, that it will have enough votes to pass. In addition, the Northern Mariana Islands have received $475,000 from NOAA to help with protecting coral reefs against the harmful impacts of global warming, ocean acidification, degradation of water quality, and other changes in the marine environment.
Houston, TX – The Ike Dike is raising more questions than it answers – says headlines. At WaterLog, we agree. The Corps is designing our flood-gate systems after the Dutch, who have designed their flood infrastructure for a 10,000 year storm. The Corps’ Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study cites that designs are built to provide protection that surpasses the 100-year storm. Instead, let’s build for the 10,000 year storm. America is such an economic powerhouse, developing and implementing catastrophe designed infrastructure should be looked at as simply the cost of doing business. The choice is ours, spend $1 now on resilience or $5-7 dollars in the future on rebuilding. So, our question is: if we’re going to copy the Dutch, why don’t we do it right?