May 09, 2018

Kaine Provisions To Protect Tangier Island And Coastal Virginia Included In Bipartisan Water Infrastructure Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine praised the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) for including his provisions to initiate new flood-resilience projects for Tangier Island and Coastal Virginia in its draft water resources bill. The EPW Committee’s draft of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes two provisions that will result in roadmaps for new resilient infrastructure—a broad plan for the entire coastal region of Virginia and a specific one for Tangier Island.  Both provisions, when passed into law, will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to generate detailed plans for projects that reduce risk from sea level rise and recurrent flooding in these areas, which will in turn authorize Congress to fund those needs. Kaine is now calling on his colleagues to join him in supporting the legislation that will be considered before the EPW Committee and then before the full Senate.

“This bill will help move the ball forward so we can defend Virginia’s coastal communities and resources against the negative effects of sea level rise,” Kaine said. “From the cities of Hampton Roads to rural communities on the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Eastern Shore, I hear from local leaders who are working on solutions to protect their homes and businesses and need us to do our part. Last summer, I traveled to Tangier Island to listen to the historic community’s unique and urgent needs. I am thankful to leaders on the Committee who included these projects in the legislation, and I ask my colleagues to recognize the clear need to protect these treasured pillars of the Virginia economy.”

Congress periodically considers water infrastructure legislation; these bills are often known as Water Resources Development Acts (WRDAs). America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, this year’s version of the bill, supports our nation’s economic competitiveness by authorizing priorities such as dredging waterways, deepening ports, protecting communities from flooding, and restoring key ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay. The legislation will also repair aging drinking water, wastewater, and irrigation systems. Kaine voted for previous WRDA bills in 2014 and 2016.

The Tangier Island Study Authority will evaluate ecosystem restoration, flood risk management, and navigation options that reduce the island’s critical vulnerability to erosion and flood damage. In June, Kaine traveled to Tangier Island and met with Tangier Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge about challenges facing the island. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that if immediate action is not taken, Tangier Island could be substantially uninhabitable within the next 50 years due to erosion, widely believed to be caused by sea level rise due to climate change. The island currently shrinks by 15 feet each year. The Coastal Virginia Water Resources Authority will look at options to reduce storm and flood damage and make coastal infrastructure and communities less vulnerable to flooding and shoreline erosion associated with sea level rise and climate change. This follows a previous study for the City of Norfolk.

Full text of the draft legislation can be found here.