The National Waterways Conference decried the inadequate funding for the Army Corps of Engineers civil works program in the Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2011. The $4.9b proposal, a 10% cut compared to FY2010 funding levels, fails to recognize the Corps’ critical role as stewards of our nation’s water resources, and the vital importance of our water resources infrastructure to our economic and environmental well-being. We had hoped that last year’s budget signified the new Administration’s understanding of and commitment to the importance of our nation’s water resources to our national prosperity.
Our water resources infrastructure provides life-saving flood control, abundant water supplies, shore protection, water-based recreation, environmental restoration, and hydropower production, essential to our economic well-being. Moreover, waterways transportation is the safest, most energy efficient and environmentally sound mode of transportation.
Our flood damage reduction program saves lives and has prevented more than $700b in riverine and coastal damages – saving almost $6 in damages for each dollar spent. Hydropower facilities built and maintained by the Corps alone produce nearly a third of the nation’s total hydropower output: enough energy to serve about ten million households. Shore protection projects provide protection from hurricanes and other storm events for transportation, petroleum and agriculture infrastructure around our coastlines, coastal waterways and deltas, as well as recreational benefits.
With adequate maintenance and capital investment, our ports and waterways are the backbone of our transportation system—ensuring domestic and international trade opportunities and low-cost, environmentally sound goods movements. The cost for transportation over inland waterways is two to three times lower than other modes of transportation, translating into an annual savings of $7b for American businesses. More than 67% of all U.S. consumer goods pass through the nation’s harbors.
NWC Chairman Fred Caver noted that “Investments in infrastructure are long-term investments in the strength and security of the nation, and provide for tangible and long-lasting benefits which will ensure the quality of life for our children and grandchildren in the future. Moreover, a healthy and robust infrastructure leads to a healthy and robust economy. We are disappointed that the Administration’s budget fails to recognize these compelling needs.”