Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today secured approval of nearly $39 million from a key U.S. House panel to fund two critical federal programs that support the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System (SFFWS), which is $3.11 million above last year's level. The funding increase will boost the efforts of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Streamflow Information Program and the Cooperative Water Program. Both programs offer support to the SFFWS network of rain and stream gages by offsetting operation and maintenance costs of the network. The funding is included as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 Interior Appropriations bill, which the Interior Subcommittee -- of which Hinchey is a member -- approved today.
"By investing resources now to help alert communities and residents about the threat of an impending flood we can save lives and dramatically reduce property damage and the resulting expenses associated with cleanup and repair, which pair in comparison to this upfront cost," Hinchey said. "I was disappointed that some sought to cut or reduce funding for the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System, but am very pleased that I was able to help overcome that and deliver these critical resources for the region. This additional funding is critically important but much more needs to be done. The Southern Tier has been hit hard by flooding in recent years and we must do everything we can to protect the public from any future floods. I will continue to fight for additional funding for these flood warning systems"
The SFFWS is designed to help save lives and lessen property damage by providing early indications of floods. Federal support for the program has been in jeopardy as a result of the ban on earmarks. Two years ago, funding that was targeted to the program was eliminated when Senate Republicans filibustered a larger federal budget bill. The program was further put in jeopardy as a result of the budget cuts in a continuing resolution, which Hinchey opposed. Since that time, Hinchey has worked to restore funding for the critical program.
This year, the Cooperative Water Program was slated to be completely cut, but Hinchey was able to use his position as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior to restore $6.49 million to the program. The congressman also was able to help increase the amount of funding for the National Streamflow Information Program by $3.112 million for a total of $32.47 million allocated for that important program.
"With the Susquehanna River Basin being one of the most flood prone areas in the country, this funding level is vital for the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens, businesses and communities throughout the basin," said SRBC Executive Director Paul O. Swartz. "The funding will enable the continued operation of stream gages that provide critical data needed to issue timely and accurate flood forecasts. We extend our appreciation to Congressman Hinchey for taking a leadership role to provide this funding."
Hinchey has long championed efforts to reduce the impact of flooding throughout the Binghamton region. The congressman previously secured funding for much-needed flood prevention work in the City of Binghamton and the Town of Union. Hinchey also secured funding for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood damage reduction study aimed at protecting residents and their property in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin from future floods.
The Fiscal Year 2013 Interior Appropriations bill now moves to the full Appropriations Committee, which is expected to approve the funding.