This is a reminder that we will be presenting at 5:05PM Thursday at the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association’s Conference on Beach Preservation Technology. Please join us!
Our Topic is Improving Beach Nourishment Effectiveness While Reducing Costs Through Regional Collaboration
We’d like to start today’s article with a quote:
“There’s no guarantee, no guarantee of federal money for anything we come up with, but folks, this is the pathway, the opportunity for us to get there, and that’s why it’s so critical.” -- John Tecklenburg, Mayor of Charleston, SC, describing the Charleston Peninsula Flooding Study.
Mayor Tecklenburg is not alone. Communities nationwide are taking advantage of the Corps’ technical assistance, through standard Corps (3x3x3) process, or utilizing the Corps’ lesser-known programs and authorities like Planning Assistance to States, Regional Sediment Management and the Continuing Authorities Programs to put power in the hands of local officials to make informed decisions about their coastal resilience. Mr. Tecklenburg is right, there is no guarantee of federal money for any recommendations that come from the study, but that’s where Coastal Strategies is trying to fill the gap. We connect communities with planners, financial institutions and engineering firms committed to reducing risk and identify investment capital for coastal improvement and coastal resilience projects. The Charleston Peninsula Flooding Study is expected to completed in less than 3 years, cost less than $3 million, and is entirely funded from the 2018 Disaster Supplemental (Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018).
The State of the Union Address is tonight. One thing you’ll be hearing is how we are investing in our infrastructure, but you likely won’t be hearing about any coastal infrastructure. While our government is investing heavily in our roads and surface transportation, our coasts, ports and dams are failing and are in dire need of repair. Congress has pushed hard for surface transportation, and we’ll give credit to House T&I for highlighting water resources infrastructure – but it isn’t yet enough. In addition to scheduled maintenance and repairs, there are the ever growing concerns oabout the impacts of sea level rise and climate change on our coastal infrastructure, both civil works and military infrastructure. The Pentagon released a report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense, which was followed by a letter from Members of Congress urging the concerns in the report to be seriously considered.
The federal government in DC was open and then shut last week because of the winter weather. Washington, DC was the coldest it’s been in decades, with snow and ice (and fears of them) closing the government one day and delaying it on others. Congressional negotiators from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are meeting to trying to keep it from shutting down again on February 15th, due to a lack of agreement on funding. Reportedly, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has cautioned the President against using his national emergency powers to commandeer Corps of Engineers civil works funds and personnel to build the wall. How much border wall does $5.7 billion buy?
Not all subcommittee memberships have yet been announced, but we previously reported that Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio is the Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chair. Late last week, Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana was appointed as Vice-Chair. Both represent Great Lakes Districts. Rep. Ken Calvert of California will continue to serve on the House Energy & Appropriations Committee. A full list of Democratic members of that panel can be found here. The names of the Republican members can be found here.
Corps of Engineers
The Corps will hold a February 11th “listening session” to get public input on implementation guidance for provisions in WRDA 2018. Translation: If there’s a provision of WRDA18 that interests you and is on this list, submit your comments following these guidelines. The listening session itself is a teleconference. To register for that, dial 800-288-8960. Finally, if you can make it through the entry process for Corps HQ, you can attend the session in person. To register for that, email WRDA2018@usace.army.mil. The Corps normally doesn’t ask for public input, and HQ often doesn’t ask its own Divisions and Districts for input. So if you’ve got something to say, there are three ways to do it (and please do it!): In writing, by phone, and in person.
The Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Agency has published a “Broad Agency Announcement” soliciting proposals for research in the broad fields of hydraulics, dredging, coastal engineering, oceanography, remote sensing, geotechnical engineering, and much more. This research is conducted by government personnel and by contract with educational institutions, non-profit organizations and private industries. Click here for more information. One area that the Corps is researching is the use of drones for collection of coastal mapping data using LIDAR. There is a big need for coastal maps to allow communities to make informed decisions, and drones will help accomplish the enormous task of mapping our 95,000+ miles of shoreline. If you or something you know is a licensed drone operator who is interested in coastal mapping, please reach out to email@example.com.
The Corps issued a notice in the Federal Register that the Corps’ Civil Works program is directed to establish a Public Private Partnership (P3) pilot program with the goals of demonstrating the viability of new delivery methods that can significantly reduce the cost and time of project delivery. There will be up to 10 identified P3 pilot projects that will be screened and ranked based on the criteria found in the notice.
A new draft banking rule will give homeowners the opportunity to accept private flood insurance. Private insurers will be able to compete against the federal standard for flood insurance, providing lower rates to those homeowners who are outside of high-risk flood zones. The rule can be found here. Currently, the NFIP accounts for 83% of all flood insurance premiums paid in 2017.
New Bills in Congress
The start of a new Congress every two years always brings a lot of changes. New Members and staff have undoubtedly all found their way to the nearest bathrooms but may not have yet fully settled into their offices and daily routines. Here are some of the bills we are tracking at Coastal Strategies:
HR 830 to amend the Federal flood insurance program regarding the repair, expansion, and construction of certain agricultural buildings without elevation.
HR 795 to require the USDOT to study the economic and environmental risks to the Great Lakes of oil spills.
HR 472 The Community Mapping Act
HR 469 To require the use of replacement value in determining NFIP premium rates
HR 462 The Everglades for the Next Generation Act
You can get the text of bills by going to congress.gov, the website service of the Library of Congress. Because of the extended government shutdown, the text of some bills has yet to be published. For those new to the congressional numbering system - “HR” stands for House of Representatives. If we had any Senate bills, they would start with “S”, as in S 1.
Here is a curated list of federal coastal grants currently available.
(Read the report here) – Pages 2 and 3
Did you miss…
National Parks lost 10-11 million in revenue during shutdown.