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President’s FY17 Budget for Corps of Engineers Civil Works Released

On February 9, the President’s fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program was released, including $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding.  

In addition to focusing on the Corps mission areas (coastal and inland navigation, reducing flood and storm risks, and restoring aquatic eco-systems), the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works said the budget also supports “initiatives to increase renewable energy production, reduce green-house gas impacts, combat invasive species, and increase community resilience in the wake of natural disasters.” She also noted that the bud-get had “tough choices” to make in order to put the country on a “fiscally sustainable path.”

New federal funding in the Civil Works budget is $3.59 billion from the general fund, $951 million from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, $45 million from Special Recreation User Fees, and $34 million from the In-land Waterways Trust Fund.

The FY17 funding will be distributed among the appropriations accounts as follows: $2.705 billion for Operation and Maintenance; $1.09 billion for Construction; $222 million for Mississippi River and Tributaries; $200 million for the Regulatory Program; $180 million for Expenses; $103 million for the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP); $85 million for Investigations; $30 million for Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies; and $5 million for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

The FY17 Civil Works program is also pro-vided approximately $845 million in funding from additional sources not included in the budget, bringing the FY17 total program funding to $5.465 billion.

The FY17 budget includes $1.934 billion for the study, design, construction, operation and maintenance of inland and coastal navigation projects. It funds capital investments on the inland waterways based on the estimated revenues to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The Budget gives priority to coastal harbors and in-land waterways with the most commercial traffic. It also funds harbors that support significant commercial fishing, subsistence or public transportation benefits.

The FY17 investigations program overall is funded at $92 million, including $7 mil-lion from the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) account, to fund studies to determine the need, engineering feasibility, and economic, environmental and social return of potential solutions for water and related land resource problems. This includes $6.7 million for work on proposals to deepen and/or widen ten high and moderate commercial use U.S. harbors and channels: Houston Ship Channel, Texas; Man-atee Harbor, Florida; Matagorda Ship Channel, Texas; Mississippi River Ship Channel, Gulf to Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mobile Harbor, Alabama; New Haven Harbor, Connecticut; Norfolk Harbor, Virginia; Port of Long Beach, California; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Seattle Habbor, Washington; and Unalaska (Dutch) Harbor, Alaska.

The budget also funds completion of 12 studies and designs, one of which is in the Pre-construction Engineering and Design (PED) phase. These studies comprise four ecosystem restoration studies, four navigation studies, and four flood risk management studies. The study completions include Adams and Denver Counties, Colorado; Boise River, Boise, Idaho; Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock, Louisiana (GRR); Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration – Mississippi River Hydrodynamic Modeling and Delta Management Study; Minnesota River Watershed Study, Minnesota & South Dakota (Minnesota River Authority); Mississippi River Ship Channel, Gulf to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (GRR); Norfolk Harbor and Channels, Virginia (55-Foot) (GRR); Rahway River Basin (Upper Basin), New Jersey; Red River of the North Basin, North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota & Manitoba, Canada; Seattle Harbor, Washington; South San Francisco Bay Shoreline, California (PED); and Sparks Arroyo Colonia, El Paso County, Texas.
The FY17 budget includes no new study starts in the investigations program.

The FY17 construction program is funded at $1.154 billion. The budget funds 33 construction projects, including 17 flood risk management projects (two funded for completion), nine aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, six commercial navigation projects (three funded for completion), and one hydropower project (funded for completion). The Corps said the construction program uses objective, performance-based guidelines to allocate funding toward the highest performing economic, environmental, and public safety investments. For more details on some of the funded projects, see the next section.

The FY17 O&M program is funded at $2.856 billion, including $151 million in the MR&T account. For O&M, the Corps said “the budget emphasizes performance of existing projects by focusing on those coastal harbors and inland waterways with the most commercial traffic, as well as safety improvements at federal dams and levees based on the risk and consequence of a failure. The budget also funds maintenance work at harbors that support significant commercial fishing, subsistence, or public transportation benefits.”

Collaborating with federal, non-federal, state and local partners, the Corps completed the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (Comprehensive Study) in 2015, a report that developed a universal Coastal Storm Risk Management Framework that identified a set of structural, non-structural natural, nature-based, and programmatic measures to manage flood risk and promote resilience for approximately 31,000 miles of coastline, from New Hampshire to Virginia. The FY17 budget will fund work for six of the nine focus areas identified in the comprehensive study. They are New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries, New York and New Jersey; New Jersey Back Bays, New Jersey; City of Norfolk, Virginia; Nassau County Back Bays, New York; Delaware Inland Bays and Delaware Bay Coast, Delaware; and the District of Columbia, DC. The Corps said these areas were selected based on the readiness of the local sponsors to cost-share further investigations work.

DISTRICT FUNDING
The Corps Philadelphia District reported it will receive approximately $123.8 million in gross discretionary funding, including $875,000 for general investigations; $33,125,000 for construction; $76,064,000 for O&M; and flood control and coastal emergencies $694,000.

Including both the amounts in the FY16 Corps work plan for the Philadelphia District, and the proposed budget spending for FY17, approximately $250 million over the two fiscal years is dedicated to the Delaware River navigation project.

The Delaware River main channel deepening project is funded at $55 million, for the last two dredging contracts, which will complete the deepening of the 103-mile channel from 40 to 45 feet. The Delaware River also received $68 million in O&M funds for ongoing maintenance of the channel.

Other projects that account for a major share of the overall funding include the Inland Waterway, Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay, in Delaware and Maryland, which was funded at $40 million for maintenance dredging of the canal and Baltimore Harbor upper approach channels, upland projects and one confined disposal facility.

Thirty million dollars is going for New Jersey shore protection projects for scheduled periodic renourishment at three projects, all with fiscal 2016 work plan funds – Absecon Island (coastal storm damage reduction at Atlantic City, Ventnor); Cape May (coastal storm dam-age reduction); and Lower Cape May Meadows (aquatic ecosystem restoration) and Cape May Point (coastal storm damage reduction).

Under the FY17 budget proposal, the Detroit District will receive more than $67 million in funding. Dredging projects received a total of $16.2 million for work at channels in Lake St. Clair, Michigan; Detroit River, Michigan; Duluth-Superior Harbor, Minnesota and Wiscosnin; Green Bay Harbor, Wisconsin; Grand Haven Harbor, Michigan; Holland Harbor, Michigan; Keweenaw Waterway, Michigan; Saginaw River, Michigan; St. Joseph Harbor, Michigan; and Sturgeon Bay Harbor and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, Wisconsin.

The Charleston District will receive $21.3 million in funding, including almost $14 mil-lion for the Charleston Harbor maintenance dredging; $6.27 million for O&M work at the Cooper River Rediversion Project; $875,000 for project condition surveys; and $100,000 for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Within the New England District, the FY17 budget proposes a $500,000 feasibility study for the New Haven Harbor deepening project in Connecticut. In Massachusetts, the FY17 bud-get proposes $12 million in funding for mainteancne of the Boston Harbor federal navigation channel; $470,000 for maintenance of the Chatham (Stage) Harbor; $350,000 for maintenance of Green Harbor; $150,000 to prepare plans and specifications for proposed maintenance of the Gloucester and Annisquam River; and other funding for project condition surveys and inspection of completed works.

In New Hampshire, $1.1 million will go for funding maintenance of the Portsmouth Harbor and Piscataqua River. In Rhode Island, funding includes $350,000 in funding for maintenance of the Great Salt Pond in Block Island, and $200,000 in funding to prepare plans and specifications for proposed maintenance of the Providence River and Harbor.

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