Pascrell Celebrates Passage of Landmark Water Bill
Bipartisan legislation will help protect North Jersey communities battered by recurrent flooding, includes $20M for Metromedia Tract and $19M for Meadowlark Marsh in the Meadowlands
Washington, D.C., July 29, 2020
Tags: Energy & the Environment
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today praised the passage in the House of Representatives of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (H.R.7575). This legislation authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) work on water resource projects to build and study new lock, damn, levee, and ecosystem projects throughout the nation.
Included in the bill are three items requested by Rep. Pascrell:
(1) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Report for the Hudson-Raritan Estuary (HRE) Ecosystem Restoration project of New Jersey which includes work in the Meadowlands;
(2) the Peckman River Basin Flood Risk Management project he started twenty years ago, and;
(3) amendments to update the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Study (HTS) to address damaging storm surges such as the one seen during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“The Army Corps can play an vital role in ecosystem restoration and flood management. By the House’s action today we are advancing critical projects to advance both imperatives for our North Jersey communities,” said Rep. Pascrell. “For years we have worked to address dangerous flash flooding that has caused enormous damage and loss of life. Our bill’s authorization of the Peckman River flood project to finally stop the devastation from this river is a major milestone for the Garden State. Furthermore, the Hudson-Raritan Ecosystem project will allow federal investment to restore marshland and habitat at two environmentally sensitive sites in our cherished Meadowlands
Rep. Pascrell concluded, “As we approach another hurricane season and seeing heavy regional rainfall we are reminded once more of the importance of vigilance against flooding. The House is focused on protecting our communities in North Jersey through forward-looking solutions to allow our communities to manage major water events that impact us.”
After Rep. Pascrell wrote in May to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO-06) urging the committee to authorize the HRE, the bill authorizes $265,320,000 in federal dollars for ecosystem restoration work, which when added to the local match leads to a $408,184,000 project. The Chief’s report directs the Army Corps to do estuary habitat restoration work at both the Metromedia Tract and the Meadowlark Marsh in the Meadowlands, which would be authorized at $20,218,952 and $19,284,492 in federal funding
The inclusion of the Peckman River flood management project, which was first conceived in a study authorized by Pascrell after a local resident lost his life during Hurricane Floyd, comes after Pascrell and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) advocated the project be included in the bill. WRDA 2020 authorizes $95,022,000 in federal dollars for the project, which when added to the local match would fully fund the $146,188,000 project.
The NJ-NY HTS has remained a top priority for the Garden State congressional delegation in the wake of devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy. The delegation requested amendments to the study in a letter led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06), and the bill includes updates to the authorization ensuring the Army Corps look at rising sea-levels and consult with the local communities in their planning.
As a former member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Pascrell wrote the resolution initially authorizing the USACE reconnaissance report on the Peckman River. In 2002, Rep. Pascrell announced the findings of the reconnaissance report and over the next several years helped secure millions in state and federal investments to advance the feasibility study. Pascrell also led the fight against development on the banks of this river that could exacerbate flash flood events.
To that end, Pascrell helped negotiate the purchase of land on Wilmore Road along the Peckman River in 2005 to preclude the construction of a proposed housing development that would have threatened additional flooding. In November 2019, Rep. Pascrell wrote to the USACE regarding the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report & Environmental Assessment (DIFR/EA) for the Peckman River Basin, which runs through portions of Essex and Passaic Counties. In the letter to the Project Manager, Pascrell requested an explanation for how potential remedies might impact flood conditions for residents in surrounding communities along the Passaic River.