WASHINGTON D.C. – Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Ranking Member David Rouzer (NC-07) questioned Lieutenant General Scott A. Spellmon, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during today’s hearing entitled, “President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request: Agency Policies and Perspectives (Part I)” regarding the Coastal Storm Damage Reduction projects at Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach and vicinity. Congressman Rouzer also questioned Lieutenant General Spellmon regarding funding for the Coastal Storm Damage Reduction (CSDR) feasibility study in the Town of Holden Beach.
Read the full exchange below:
Rouzer: As you are probably aware, there are two federally authorized coastal storm damage reduction projects in my district, Wrightsville Beach is one and Carolina Beach and vicinity is the other. Both of them have scheduled renourishment events for FY21, however, they were not funded, as you know, in the Army Corps FY21 Workplan. Which, quite frankly, came as a great surprise to everybody up and down the chain — at least those that I’ve spoken to. And I understand that the Wilmington district and some others have put together a plan to utilize funds that were left over from a couple other projects in North Carolina and convert those for these two projects. I understand it’s on your doorstep, if not already seen, and I want to make sure that you are aware of that and get any input from you here while I have you.
Lieutenant General Spellmon: First off, I say we acknowledge the importance of both of these beach renourishments to the people in the region. The good news for Wrightsville Beach is the plans and specifications are complete. Our intent was to perform the construction with our flood control and coastal emergency engineer coastal emergency account. Unfortunately, we had the 2019 floods which took many other priority needs to other parts of the nation. So, I’m working two avenues to fund Wrightsville Beach. I’ll start there. First, we're working on an internal reprogramming action where we'll find funds from other projects within the Corps that either are no longer needed or came in under budget. And the need here for Wrightsville is $14.3 million, so that that research is ongoing.
Similarly, a second prong is we've asked the Administration to consider moving this project, Wrightsville, from the flood control and coastal emergency account to our construction account under the Disaster Response Act of 2019. Mr. Rouzer, both of those options, both of those prongs that we're working on require the Administration and Congressional committee review and we would like to get those decisions here next month so we can get to a contract award by September so we can meet and get this project in before the environmental windows take effect.
So similarly on Carolina Beach, we're working an internal re-programming action to find the funds they need here is $24 million and we're working to find those funds as expeditiously as possible and then we'll take our recommendation to the Assistant Secretary and to the Administration. I hope that answers your question.
Rouzer: I appreciate that very, very much and as you mentioned the timing of getting this done as quickly as possible is obviously very important. The longer it waits, you know, the greater the cost. One quick question, I assume OMB has to sign off on this or is this just strictly internal with [the Army Corps]?
Lieutenant General Spellmon: I believe Mr. Pinkham and our Assistant Secretary's team will work these options with OMB and the Administration.
Rouzer: One other community I want to ask about real quick: the Town of Holden Beach requires funding for their Coastal Storm Damage Reduction feasibility study. Will you work to ensure that funding is included in the FY22 workplan?
Lieutenant General Spellmon: We can't make any commitments at this time, but we will give our best technical recommendation to the Assistant Secretary as if we're offered a FY22 work plan to prioritize these type projects.