Administration Releases Fiscal Year 2009 Civil Works Budget
The new federal funding in the Civil Works budget consists of $3.844 billion from the general fund, $729 million from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, $167 million from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and $1 million from Disposal Facilities User Fees.
Other sources of funding are estimated at $501 million, which includes federal funding of $84 million from the Coastal Wetlands Restoration Trust Fund and $17 million in Permanent Appropriations. It also includes $400 million paid by non-federal interests as Rivers and Harbors Contributed Funds.
The new federal funding will be distributed as follows among the appropriation accounts:
OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE (O&M)
The total FY09 Operation and Maintenance (O&M) program is funded at $2.638 billion, including $163 million in the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) account. The budget emphasizes performance of existing projects by focusing on the maintenance of commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction, and other facilities.
The FY09 budget is the first to present information for Operation and Maintenance activities by 54 areas based on USGS sub-watersheds.
The budget gives priority to the operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation of harbors and waterway segments that support high volumes of commercial traffic, including three of the nation’s most heavily-used inland waterways - the Ohio River, the Mississippi River, and the Illinois Waterway. The budget also funds harbors that support significant commercial fishing, subsistence, or public transportation benefits.
The FY09 budget funds several activities in the O&M account that have been funded in the past in the construction account. The activities are: compliance with the Endangered Species Act at operating projects; rehabilitation of components of existing projects; replacement of sand lost due to the operation and maintenance of federal navigation projects; and construction of dredged material placement facilities, projects or features (including islands and wetlands) to use materials dredged during federal navigation operation and maintenance activities.
The O&M account also includes $10 million for the National Levee Inventory Program.
The total FY09 Construction program is $1.478 billion, including $76 million in the MR&T account. The Construction program uses six objective, performance-based guidelines to guide the allocation of funding towards the highest performing construction projects. One key performance measure includes project rankings. Flood and storm damage reduction, navigation and hydropower projects are ranked by their Benefit-to-Cost Ratio (BCR). Aquatic ecosystem restoration projects are ranked by the extent that they are cost-effective in helping to restore a regionally or nationally significant ecosystem that has become degraded as a result of a civil works project or to a restoration effort that requires the Corps’ unique expertise in modifying an aquatic regime.
Two other key performance guidelines give priority to projects that address a significant risk to human safety, and projects that are funded in the construction program to provide dam safety assurance, seepage control, or static instability correction.
In recent years, many more construction projects have been authorized, initiated and continued than can be constructed efficiently, according to the Administration. The Administration further stated that the funding of projects with low economic and environmental returns and of projects that are not within the main mission areas of the Corps has postponed benefits from the most worthy projects and significantly reduced overall program performance.
In view of this belief, the budget funds 79 construction projects, consisting of 11 dam safety assurance, seepage control, and static instability correction projects; 16 projects that address a significant risk to human safety, including the St. Louis Flood Protection, Missouri and Wood River Levee, Illinois deficiency corrections; and 52 other continuing projects.
Among the construction projects funded in the FY09 budget are the New York and New Jersey Harbor deepening project ($90 million); Olmsted Locks and Dam, Illinois and Kentucky, ($114 million); the South Florida/Everglades ecosystem restoration program ($185 million); Wolf Creek Dam, Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, seepage control ($57 million); and Columbia River channel improvements ($36 million).
The FY09 Regulatory Program is budgeted at $180 million, which matches the program’s FY08 enacted appropriation.
Emergency Management is provided $40 million in the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies account to prepare for flood and coastal emergencies, and other natural disasters.
Recreation activities are provided a total of $270 million in FY09 from the O&M and MR&T accounts.
For FY09, the Administration proposes to collect lockage-based user fees for commercial barges on the inland waterways to address the declining balance in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and to phase out the existing diesel fuel tax for these waterways. The Administration believes that enacting the legislation will provide the revenue needed to avoid depleting the trust fund by the end of calendar year 2008, and support ongoing and future inland waterways projects.
Other funding allocations are:
• $240 million for Flood Control, Mississippi River and Tributaries
• $177 million for Expenses
• $130 million for the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program
• $91 million for Investigations
• $40 million for Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies
• $6 million for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works
The budget also provides $5.761 billion in an FY09 emergency request for the additional federal funds needed to reduce the risk to the greater New Orleans, Louisiana, area from storm surges, and to restore and improve hurricane and storm damage reduction features in the area.