Dear Mr. Lamont and Mr. Mulvaney:
We are write to emphasize our strong and ongoing support for the continuing construction of the McCook Reservoir Project, a major flood damage reduction reservoir of the Chicagoland Underflow Plan (CUP) that will provide more than $114 million in annual flood damage reduction benefits to 5 million residents of Chicago and the 36 surrounding suburban communities. We request your assistance in including $18.1 million in construction funds for the McCook project in the Army Corps of Engineers' Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Work Plan.
The McCook Reservoir Project, which was authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 1988, is a flood damage reduction project that is currently 91 percent complete. This project is considered one of the Corps' premier flood damage reduction projects due to the size of the population protected, its high ratings on the Corps' Health Safety Budget Index, and its high 2.96 to 1 Benefit to Cost Ratio. Both stages of the Project have been budgeted and under construction for over ten years and are integral to preventing the type of flood damage Illinois has suffered in recent years including 3 Presidentially-Declared Flood Disasters since 2008.
The importance of funding projects like McCook was reflected in language included by Congress in the recently passed Omnibus Appropriations Act for 2017: "Of the additional funding provided in this account for flood and storm damage reduction and flood control, the Corps shall allocate not less than $10,500,000 to continue construction of projects that principally include improvements to rainfall drainage systems that address flood damages." The project is also subject to a Consent Decree whose enforceable schedule requires the first stage of the project to be completed and operational by the end of this year.
Beyond providing the authorized flood protection, the project will also help protect Lake Michigan, the source of our drinking water for over 6 million residents in Illinois, and waterways throughout the state of Illinois by preventing overflows and ensuring water is treated before it is released into our state's waterway system.
The Illinois Congressional delegation stands in strong support of this cost-effective and multiple benefit project, which will protect the health and safety of our citizens. We strongly urge you to include $18.1 million in construction funds for the McCook Reservoir in the FY 2017 Corps of Engineers Work Plan, and we request that the Administration continue to budget for this priority project through its completion.
Thank you for your consideration of our request.