Higgins Says Approval of Water Legislation Is Good News For Western New York
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced approval of the Water Resources Development Act (S. 612) delivering support for projects enhancing local waterways, improving water infrastructure and rebuilding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District headquarters.
“Water-based improvements have a multi-generational impact on our health and environment and as we’ve demonstrated locally can be a smart and lasting economic silver bullet,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force. “This bill allows us to continue to build on the revival of Western New York waterways and make long-overdue investments in the Buffalo Army Corps team that is leading many of these projects.”
The Army Corps headquarters is located on Niagara Street in Buffalo along the Niagara River. The Buffalo District oversees 38,000 square miles from Massena, New York to Toledo, Ohio and is responsible for planning, constructing, and operating water projects to reduce flooding, maintain navigation, protect the shoreline, and support water quality efforts. The existing main headquarters building was constructed in 1957 and has not seen significant updates since 1976. The new headquarters will allow for improved security, working conditions, accessibility, technology and efficiencies for the approximately 275 staff working at the site. While previously the agency had considered abandoning this neighborhood to find space elsewhere, this proposal will maintain and improve this substantial federal presence along the Blackrock waterfront.
The legislation provides $300 million in annual funding for water and shoreline projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program that has supported more than $40 million in federal funding to Western New York projects since 2010. Under the bill, the program is authorized for five years, providing funding certainty for $1.5 billion in Great Lakes cleanup and restoration projects.
The bill, among other measures, also creates grant programs to support efforts to reduce lead in drinking water in communities and schools, a challenge many Western New York school districts have encountered in recent months.