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Pascrell Hails House Passage of Bipartisan Water Resources Bill

Meadowlands and Peckman River projects, New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Study amendments included in bill after push by Pascrell

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today celebrated House approval of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (S. 1811). This legislation authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work on water resource projects to build and study new lock, damn, levee, and ecosystem projects throughout the nation. Included in the final bill are three items Pascrell helped secure in the House bill (H.R.7575): (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 Pascrell 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.

“The passage of our bipartisan bill is proof positive of the support for ecosystem restoration and flood management in our waterlogged North Jersey communities,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The Hudson-Raritan Ecosystem project will allow federal investment to restore marshland and habitat at two environmentally sensitive sites in our cherished Meadowlands. I have long worked assiduously with local officials to address dangerous flash flooding from the Peckman River that has caused major damage and loss of life. I commend Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill for joining our efforts to get the Peckman River flood project authorized and put an end to these flooding disasters. The House is focused on protecting communities like ours in North Jersey through forward-looking solutions that allow our communities to sufficiently manage major water events.”

After Rep. Pascrell wrote 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 passed this week authorizes $265,320,000 in federal dollars for ecosystem restoration work, which when added to the local match funds a $408,184,000 project. The Army Corps will do estuary habitat restoration work at both the Metromedia Tract and the Meadowlark Marsh in the Meadowlands.

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 (D-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 long remained a top priority for the Garden State congressional delegation in the wake of devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. The delegation requested amendments to the study in a letter led by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06), and the bill includes updates to the authorization ensuring the Army Corps will study rising sea-levels and consult with our local communities in their planning.

As a then-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 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 the river. 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 and flash flood events.

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.

Pascrell has always made it a top priority to find funding and advance policy for smart flood management in Northern New Jersey.

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