Larson Secures Key Victories for Hartford & East Hartford Levees in House-Passed Bill
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman John Larson (CT-01) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA 2018) last night, which contained a provision directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct expedited feasibility reports on repairing the Hartford and East Hartford levee systems:
“The Hartford and East Hartford levees along the Connecticut River are one of our region’s most important assets, keeping our communities safe and protecting critical infrastructure from the threat of a flood disaster. However, the Army Corps of Engineers has identified urgent repairs that are needed if these systems are to continue to keep residents and businesses safe. This March, I had the opportunity to meet with Colonel William Conde, the U.S. Army Corps’ New England District Commander, who fully recognizes the problem. There is an urgent need for rehabilitation work on these levees. That is why I fought to include these provisions in this bill that direct the Army Corps to act on this problem and complete expedited feasibility reports to repair the Hartford and East Hartford levee systems. This will bring them one step closer to eligibility for needed federal funding for repair work. I will continue to work with the Army Corps, Hartford, East Hartford, and community stakeholders to ensure that we never have to face a flooding catastrophe,” said Larson.
“Getting the Hartford and East Hartford flood control projects on the list for expedited planning in the federal Water Resources Development Act is a big deal,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. “We’ve worked closely with Congressman Larson on this issue over the past two years, and I want to thank him for his tremendous partnership and leadership. Hartford’s decades-old flood control system is in dire need of investment and upgrade, and this is a necessary and important step toward securing federal funding in the future. Fixing our Connecticut River levees is critical to the safety and resiliency of our Capital City and the entire region – all the more urgent and important as climate change brings more frequent and more severe extreme weather events.”
“This is great news for East Hartford and Hartford. East Hartford has taken great care to protect the community as it relates to the Flood Protection System. Since 2006, the Town has invested over $21 million for repairs, modifications, and upgrades. Continuing to make these improvements is critical for the Town. Having East Hartford and Hartford on the list for expedited planning in the federal Water Resources Development Act will help us keep our community safe. I thank Congressman Larson for his support and work on this issue,” said East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.
The Hartford and East Hartford levee systems were originally constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after catastrophic flooding during the hurricanes of 1936 and 1938. For over 70 years, the levees have protected both of these communities from the risk of flooding, however, the Army Corps has identified serious deficiencies that will require significant repairs if these aging systems are going to hold up. On the Hartford side alone, the system protects a significant portion of the city’s grand list including prime commercial, institutional, and residential real estate. Failure of the levees would jeopardize the I-84/I-91 interchange, the state’s largest waste-water treatment plant, among other critical infrastructure for the region.
Congress traditionally takes up a WRDA bill every two years to authorize new water projects such as levees, dams, and harbors, and to provide direction to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. WRDA 2018 directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of a feasibility report on rehabilitation of the Hartford and East Hartford levee systems. Competition of the feasibility report is a required step in the U.S. Army Corps’ project development process before a project can proceed to rehabilitation work. This is a critical step towards getting federal funding to make necessary repairs to the Hartford and East Hartford levee systems.