U.S. Senator Kay Hagan recently said that a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize key water infrastructure projects contains several key provisions to maintain North Carolina’s critical waterways and protect coastal communities against future storm damage.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) authorizes important projects carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers, including dredging, beach nourishment, and harbor maintenance. Hagan worked to ensure that three projects in North Carolina would qualify for future federal funding under the bill.
“North Carolina’s beaches and coastal and inland waterways are a vital part of the state’s economy, attracting tourists and enabling our businesses to compete in the global economy,” said Hagan. “These important investments will help protect North Carolina from flooding and storm damage and maintain our coastal infrastructure so that our fishing and shipping industries can operate efficiently and continue driving our economy.”
Highlights for North Carolina include:
· Surf City and North Topsail Beach: Surf City and North Topsail Beach would be eligible under the bill for beach nourishment and other measures to prevent further shoreline erosion and to protect the community from coastal storms and flooding;
· West Onslow Beach and New River Inlet: The West Onslow Beach and New River Inlet would be eligible for the Corps to construct sand dunes and sand berm to protect the community from flooding;
· Neuse Watershed Ecosystem Restoration: This project will authorize work to restore oyster populations, hardwood forest, and improve fish habitat.
Additionally, Hagan secured a critical provision to enable the Corps to study whether Carolina Beach should remain eligible for federal beach nourishment assistance. In 2015, Carolina Beach will be the first community in the country to reach the end of the 50-year authorization for federal assistance for Corps projects.
Senator Hagan worked to include a provision in the Senate bill to enable the Corps to consider whether Carolina Beach should be eligible for federal assistance for another 15 years. The final bill maintains these provisions and provides Carolina Beach another 3-years of federal eligibility while the Corps reviews the merits of a 15-year extension.
“There has been no more pressing issue for North Carolina Coastal communities than the sustainability of our beaches from storm damage. Senator Hagan’s leadership on this issue has been instrumental in securing approval for the continuation of Carolina Beach’s current storm mitigation and sand nourishment program, as well as providing the opportunity to be considered for federal beach nourishment funding after 2015,” said Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox. “Speaking on behalf of all our residents and countless visitors to our coastal beaches, we greatly appreciate the Senator’s efforts to help protect our shorelines, coastal structures and economy from the devastating effects of storm damage.”
Press Release, May 26, 2014