SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — When the president signed an omnibus spending bill on Dec. 27, it unlocked $1.4 trillion in government appropriations and $900 billion in Covid-19 aid.
In addition to averting a partial government shutdown, the passage of the bill will fund a number of projects spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will impact beaches and waterways close to home.
Projects helmed by USACE in Wilmington got a $53 million boost, mostly for “operations and maintenance.” A maintenance dredging project for the Wilmington Harbor earned $15.1 million. A similar project for Morehead City Harbor gleaned $7.1 million, and $3.6 million was dedicated to maintenance dredging for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
In a press release, a USACE spokesperson said that Congress, similarly to past years, has established “funding pots” the Corps can apply to tap into after developing a “work plan.”
“The Corps has sixty days to submit a Work Plan to the Congress following enactment of the bill,” according to the plan.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 also includes three projects related to USACE’s Wilmington District. The WRDA serves only to authorize different projects; funding those projects is a separate process.
Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) has pushed for different beach nourishment projects in his Congressional district, which includes Wilmington and Southport. He said in a press release that the water bill included “major wins for Southeastern North Carolina.”
“Among those wins, the federal funding cap for Wrightsville Beach was lifted allowing for federal funds to continue to be used for coastal storm damage reduction, and authorization for those projects at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach is a certainty for years to come,” Rouzer said in the press release.
Carolina Beach would continue periodic nourishment of the shoreline “at a 3-year interval through 2036 using the Carolina Beach Inlet borrow source with the next event scheduled for 2022, subject to the availability of funds,” according to the press release. The cost-splitting for Carolina Beach renourishment involves the federal government paying for half the project.
In Wrightsville Beach, periodic shoreline nourishment would continue at a four-year interval through 2036, with the next event set for 2022, depending on funding. For that project, the cost sharing would be slightly more dependent on the federal government which would shoulder 65% of future costs.
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