NEW YORK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New York District, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announces the approval of a waiver to increase the schedule and funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Study (NY&NJHAT). This decision allows the Corps to increase the previously approved funding ceiling of $6M to $19.4M and to extend the study schedule from 3 years to 6 years from study start to completion. This extension does not change the 2022 completion date previously published in expectation of receiving the waiver. It does move decision points including the tentatively selected plan (TSP), back by 15 months to allow for more comprehensive studies. This waiver was requested and approved in light of the complexity of comprehensive coastal storm risk options for the highly urbanized NYC area, combined with tremendous public engagement and comments on the initial conceptual alternatives under consideration in the study. The waiver provides additional time to evaluate measures and ensure the public has the time to review relevant data and submit comments.
“The Corps of Engineers is committed to examining alternatives to improve resiliency for residents who live along the Hudson River, and New York Harbor from threats caused by severe storm events,” said New York District Commander, Col. Thomas D. Asbery. “That is why we have worked with our Non Federal Sponsors, local stakeholders and our higher headquarters to extend the time and allowable funding for the New York/New Jersey Harbors and Tributaries Study. Our goal here is to do everything in our power to provide the residents of the tri-state area with options to provide resiliency projects that are capable of mitigating coastal storm risk now and in the future.”
The Corps' planning process typically allows for studies of up to $3M in total cost and 3 years of duration. Given the challenges of the NY&NJHAT study, the Corps Headquarters had previously approved a funding increase to $6M; but given the exceedance of the $6M study cost, the legislative requirement based on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2014 mandates a higher level of approval by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Prior to the waiver, the study would have been required to finish in 2019. Given the complexity of the flooding issues within the study area, challenging land use constraints, high density population, and the overall size/magnitude of the tri-state area, additional time was required to gather existing data and determine what additional information was needed to evaluate the alternatives.
The study also recognizes the fact there are significant risks from coastal storms now and in the future, however, any alternatives would have to mitigate any induced flooding impacts, were there to be any, and no alternatives would be implemented that caused any unacceptable environmental impacts. The District and its sponsors will be releasing an interim report in winter 2019 that provides additional detail on the conceptual measures and alternatives being evaluated. The review period of this interim report will include public meetings and comment. The draft feasibility and Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled to follow in spring of 2020.
Comments may be submitted to:
Chief, Environmental Analysis Branch
US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
26 Federal Plaza
New York, New York 10278 or by email to: NYNJHarbor.TribStudy@usace.army.mil.