Army Corps Proposed Project Could Threaten NY-NJ Waterways
This post was written by Maura Monagan and Jhena Vigrass
In recent months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”) has hosted several public meetings to inform the public of their plans to address the risk of storm surges in New York and New Jersey’s waterways. Specifically, the Corps is exploring building one or more offshore storm surge barriers, large movable in-water gates and connecting levees or floodwalls on adjacent shores that could harm communities and the aquatic ecology in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.
Offshore storm surge barriers, intended to shield thousands of miles of New York and New Jersey coastline and riverfront from storm damage, could seriously harm the communities and ecology of the Long Island Sound, Hudson River and New York-New Jersey Harbor. It is critical that all New York and New Jersey residents speak out against any project that involves the construction offshore storm surge barriers. You can help by submitting public comments against harmful storm surge barriers here.
While efforts to mitigate the harms of climate change are commendable, offshore storm surge barriers could harm nearby communities and ecosystems and be extremely costly and inflexible. These barriers could increase flooding in communities adjacent to, but outside of, the barriers. The proposed barriers could also restrict the migratory runs of native fish, resuspend contaminants like PCBs and pesticides, and trap untreated sewage behind the proposed barriers, which could require routine and costly maintenance. The barriers could also fail to protect communities from other climate change impacts, such as sea level rise. Wetland restoration, dunes, dikes, levees and other shoreline construction could be both less harmful, more flexible and cheaper to construct than the proposed barriers.
Unfortunately, each of the scoping meetings that the Corps has hosted thus far have failed to provide adequate opportunities for local residents to voice their many concerns regarding the proposed storm surge barriers. While Corps staff has allotted about an hour to answer attendee’s questions, questions could only be submitted on written comment cards, depriving the public the chance to ask clarifying or follow-up questions. For such a large and costly project, the Corps’ public engagement, as well as transparency around the details of their proposal have been sorely lacking. This must change as the Corps seeks to move forward with this proposal.
The Corps is still in the early scoping stage of this project, so now is the perfect time to get involved and voice your concerns about the construction of permanent barriers in the Long Island Sound, Hudson River, and New York-New Jersey Harbor. The results of this project could affect over 16 million people living in the New York metropolitan region, injure local recreation and fishing industries, and cost the region billions of dollars. It is up to us—New York and New Jersey residents—to oppose this flawed proposal.