Senators Push for Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with members of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, yesterday urged USACE to include the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study in the president’s FY2019 budget request.

Following the damaging flood waters that impacted New York’s Lake Ontario shoreline communities last year, causing millions of dollars in damages, the senators said that USACE needs to fund a new study to develop an infrastructure strategy for the future management of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River coast.

The Great Lakes Coast Resiliency Study will identify vulnerable areas and identify measures to increase resilience.

According to the senators, “without such a plan, management strategies would continue to address coastal flooding through a piecemeal approach that is inefficient and limited in effectiveness.”

The study which was proposed by the three USACE Great Lakes District Offices (Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo) to USACE headquarters for funding consideration this year would be the first of its kind to coordinate a strategy across the Great Lakes states to most efficiently and effectively manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline from future flooding events.

“After the devastating Lake Ontario flood waters that eroded shorelines and inundated homes, business, and infrastructure causing millions in damages, we need to bolster our Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River shoreline and make it more resilient against any future flooding. Just as after Superstorm Sandy the Army Corps created a plan that is now making New York’s Atlantic shoreline more resilient, we need the Army Corps to greenlight this plan to protect New York’s Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and St. Lawrence River shorelines. It is imperative that we protect the Great Lake coastline and this study is the first step to doing just that,” said Senator Schumer.

The senators explained that it is vital to protect the Great Lakes’ 5,200-mile coastline, as well as the 4.2 million people who live within two miles of the coastline.

The coastline is also critical to a robust economy and tourism industry in the Great Lakes, which includes 60 commercial harbors, a maritime economy valued at $17.3 billion and generating 293,000 jobs, a $14 billion Great Lakes recreation, and tourism economy, and a diverse ecosystem of features such as wetlands, bluffs, dunes and beaches, and species that are either threatened or endangered.