Senator Jay Rockefeller today reemphasized the importance of stabilizing the Bluestone Dam after President Obama released his proposed budget which calls for $30 million for the dam.
"As Congress works to reduce the deficit, it is important that funding for public safety projects in our communities is prioritized. And while we look for big ways to save, we must make smart investments in critical infrastructure projects," said Rockefeller. "For more than 60 years, the Bluestone Dam has protected many homes and businesses along West Virginia's rivers from flooding during severe weather saving billions of dollars in potential damages. But recently the dam and the thousands of West Virginians it keeps safe have been at risk because of serious structural problems at the dam. I have been working over several years to secure the needed funding for the project, and addressing these issues today will save billions of dollars in damages that could result if future storms or disasters strike. I'm glad that President Obama understands the need to invest in the Bluestone Dam and other infrastructure that safeguards our families and neighbors, and I'm hopeful that this budget proposal helps pave the way for crucial resources for the dam."
Rockefeller has long supported upgrades to the Bluestone Dam, and has secured millions of dollars for the dam in previous appropriations bills. He successfully pushed to include $70 million in FY 2012 and $10 million in FY 2013 for the project.
The Bluestone Dam, located on the New River in Hinton, provides approximately $70 million dollars in flood protection savings annually, and has saved nearly $5 billion over its 60-year lifespan. The rehabilitation of the dam has been a priority of the Huntington Corps since 2000. The dam does not meet the safety criteria of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or national engineering standards. Failure of the Bluestone Dam would cause catastrophic flooding along the New, Greenbrier, Gauley, Kanawha, and Elk Rivers, putting more than 175,000 people at risk of flooding during severe weather. Potential failure could also cause property damages exceeding $21 billion. President Obama's proposed budget includes $30 million to install anchors throughout the Bluestone Dam and for engineering and design of the next phase of the project.