U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today voted for committee passage of an appropriations measure that will provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with resources to improve and maintain flood control projects, ports, and waterways in Mississippi.
Hyde-Smith supported Senate Appropriations Committee approval of the FY2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, which passed unanimously. The measure funds the Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs, as well as independent agencies like the Delta Regional Authority and Appalachian Regional Commission.
“We in Mississippi know that managing the Mississippi River and its tributaries requires constant attention and investment. Prolonged, catastrophic flooding in the Mississippi Delta this year, and the harmful effects of excess fresh water intrusion into the Gulf, clearly show us that,” said Hyde-Smith, a member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
“This Senate bill provides the Army Corps of Engineers with resources to continue work on flood control projects, ports, and waterways. We also are creating a new fund to fully dredge parts of the lower Mississippi River, which should improve navigation, increase the volume of the river channel, and lower upstream water levels to help lessen the need to open the Bonnet Carré Spillway,” she said.
A new $525 million Regional Dredge Demonstration Program for the Gulf of Mexico and lower Mississippi River will address sediment accumulation that currently restricts navigation and raises water levels on the river. High water levels this year, worsened by historic flooding, led to the extended opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. The resulting fresh water discharge into the Gulf of Mexico caused economic and environmental hardships in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region.
Hyde-Smith also supported increased Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T) funding for projects inadequately funded in the budget request. The bill directs the Army Corps of Engineers to use such sums as necessary for unconstructed features of projects authorized by law, such as Yazoo Backwater Pumps, in response to recent flood disasters.
The Senate bill also includes Army Corps funding for other authorized water-related projects, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, dredging at inland ports, and flood protection on the state’s waterways and lakes.
The FY2020 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill is now available for consideration by the full Senate.
The following are some of the highlights of projects and activities in the bill for Mississippi:
Army Corps of Engineers – $76.5 million for 25 authorized Corps of Engineers projects and activities in Mississippi, including:
- $39.1 million for operation and maintenance of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
- $26.2 million for flood protection throughout the Yazoo-Mississippi River basin, and for operation and maintenance of Mississippi’s flood control reservoirs: Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, and Sardis lakes.
- $10.1 million for dredging needs at Mississippi’s ports in Rosedale, Greenville, Vicksburg, Gulfport, and Pascagoula.
Army Corps of Engineers Programmatic Funding will benefit Mississippi and the nation:
- Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project – $368 million, $158 million above the budget request, to construct, operate, and maintain the Mississippi River channel, its complex levee system, and ports up and down the river.
- Of this amount, $150 million for Corps projects inadequately funded or not included in the budget request. The bill directs the Corps to use such sums as necessary to carry out remaining unconstructed features of projects authorized by law, such as Backwater Pumps, in response to recent flood disasters.
- Regional Dredge Demonstration Program – $525 million to establish a dredge demonstration program in the Gulf of Mexico and lower Mississippi River to dredge the lower Mississippi River channel and prevent opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway in the future.
- Environmental Infrastructure – $80 million to assist with municipal water and wastewater needs in Mississippi. The bill includes language establishing that authorized but unfunded projects do not require a “new start” designation from the Corps.
- Harmful Algal Blooms – Increased funding to address harmful algae blooms, which have resulted in the dead zone in the Mississippi Sound.
- Research and Development – $33.7 million, $20.1 million over the budget request, for research primarily conducted at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg.
- Regional General Permits – Language directing the Corps to reevaluate its burdensome wetlands permitting process.
- Delta Regional Authority – $30 million, $27.5 million above the budget request.
- Appalachian Regional Commission – $175 million, $10 million above the budget request.