The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved legislation to invest in water infrastructure projects, including an expected $2.5 million in federal funding for Rhode Island, as part of the 2014 Energy and Water Development spending bill, according to U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the committee. The bill improves flood protection and coastal navigation and moves the United States toward a cleaner and more secure energy future.
"This legislation makes smart public investments in improving our water infrastructure and sustaining private sector jobs. This bill will help Rhode Island upgrade some critical infrastructure to protect local business and homes from flooding and provides funding to enhance clean energy technologies," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
The 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill includes two U.S. Army Corp of Engineers flood protection projects in Rhode Island:
$1.75 million for the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier for operation and maintenance activities necessary to operate the barrier gates and protect life and property in downtown Providence during coastal flooding events, and to preserve project infrastructure. The funds will also be used to rehabilitate one of the five pumps used to operate the barrier and to prepare an Environmental Assessment to determine potential impacts of continued operation of the barrier on the environment.
$759,000 for repairs to the Woonsocket Local Flood Protection Project to provide for normal operation and maintenance activities necessary to protect downstream life and property during flooding events, and to preserve project infrastructure. The funds will also be used to upgrade the electrical wiring and replace panels at two pump stations, remove sediment from the forebay at the Hamlet Pump Station, work to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, and install strain gages and piezometers.
Reed along with other members of the Congressional delegation passed 2 laws to transfer maintenance responsibility for the Hurricane Barrier and the Woonsocket project from the cash-strapped cities of Providence and Woonsocket so those activities are now funded by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The bill also contains $190 million in Weatherization Assistance Program funding. Reed successfully led the effort to increase support for the weatherization program and increased funding by $6 million to put more people to work undertaking energy efficient retrofits, help low-income individuals save on their energy bills, and help move the nation towards energy independence.
In addition, at Senator Reed's urging, the bill provides $20 million in Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) funding, an increase of more than $11 million to strengthen research and education in science and engineering.
The full Appropriations Committee approved a total of $34.7 billion in the fiscal year 2014 Energy and Water Development spending bill, which is $1.96 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
The bill was approved last week and must now be voted on by the full Senate.