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WRDA Act would improve Delaware coastline, waterways

Aerial view of Bethany Beach, Delaware

Posted on December 19, 2022

Improvements to The First State’s waterways are contained in a bill awaiting the president’s signature.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2022, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-DE, said, passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday. The act authorizes a series of much-needed investments in Delaware through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and includes key provisions from the Shoreline Health Oversight, Restoration, Resilience, and Enhancement Act, which was introduced earlier this year.

Carper, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said the act was contained in the larger piece of legislation that supports national defense programs.

“As the lowest-lying state in our nation, Delaware’s economic well-being is directly linked to the maintenance of our ports and waterways and protection of our coastal communities,” Carper, who co-authored the legislation with Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said in a release. “Fortunately, this year’s Water Resources Development Act includes historic advancements for water infrastructure in the First State.”

Carper said the bipartisan legislation, according to the release, is designed to aid vulnerable Delaware protections and help protect them from climate change while upholding critical ecosystem restoration. Flood mitigation and resilience are also a focus of the act.

“Delaware’s coastline and waterways are a source of pride and prosperity for the First State, but as the nation’s lowest-lying state, we face increasing threats from climate change and severe weather events,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE, said in the release. “Thankfully, the investments in WRDA 2022 protect Delaware’s water infrastructure while prioritizing economically disadvantaged communities and strengthening our state’s resilience. I applaud Chairman Carper and my colleagues in the House and Senate for passing this important legislation.”

The act, according to the release, would allow the Corps of Engineers greater emergency authority to support beaches in the state following hurricanes and other damaging storms. It would also expand programs that fast-track development and construction of shoreline, riverbanks, and streambanks and other restoration projects.

Under the act, the Corps of Engineers would also have the power to enter into contracts, cooperative agreements, grants, and other aspects with the University of Delaware for academic research purposes. The university conducts research for water resource ecology, water quality, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and coastal restoration.

The act, according to the release, also would provide for environmental infrastructure programs that support drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure for Kent, Sussex, and New Castle counties. Each county would receive $35 million.



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