U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   03/31/2004
Statement of American Shore and Beach Preservation Association
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers role in the nation's water resource needs in the 21st century.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association strongly supports passage of a Water Resources Development Act in 2004. We are deeply concerned that the totality of America’s water infrastructure is in serious, if not critical, disrepair. While this cannot be solved with the passage of this WRDA bill – or even a single year’s infusion of massive amounts of funding – the passage of WRDA 2004 sends a signal to all concerned that Congress places a high priority on America’s water resources infrastructure.

Support the Federal Beach Nourishment Program

For the past several years, the White House Office of Management and Budget has produced an annual attack on the Federal Beach Nourishment Program. This year’s attack is far more serious than any of its predecessors. Within the context of the President’s Budget Recommendations for Fiscal 2005, OMB is attempting to overturn clear policies set by Congress. OMB has made a “determination” that the periodic renourishment of beaches is a “maintenance” function despite the fact that every single beach nourishment project authorized by Congress in WRDA bills enacted into law over the past four decades has stated quite specifically that periodic renourishment is an integral part of the authorized construction project. OMB has made a “determination” that budgeting for periodic renourishment will not be supported despite the fact that Congress has said otherwise as recently as WRDA 1996 (Section 227). OMB has made a “determination” that the ongoing portions of environmental restoration projects will no longer be supported despite policy to the contrary set by Congress in WRDA 1992 and WRDA 1996. Equally objectionable is OMB’s “determination” that the funding of ongoing projects to mitigate for shoreline damage caused by navigation projects will no longer be supported. Their position ignores the clear meaning of Section 111 of WRDA 1986.

We urge this Subcommittee to send a clear message to the White House Office of Management and Budget that its efforts to undermine the Federal Beach Nourishment Program are rejected categorically. That can be done by adopting WRDA bill language reaffirming and strengthening that program. ASBPA recommends the inclusion of the language contained in S. 2105, the Coastal Restoration Act, to accomplish that objective. We also have attached to this statement language to strengthen the mitigation responsibilities of the Federal government for damages caused to shorelines by federally-maintained channels. Taken together, these two legislative provisions will demonstrate to coastal communities, employees of the Corps of Engineers, and – most of all – the Administration that Congress is not wavering in its support for the Federal Beach Nourishment Program.

Mr. Chairman, it is impossible for coastal communities to feel that they have a reliable partnership with the Federal government when, despite the fact that they have a project authorization from Congress that includes Federal cost-share participation in periodic renourishment for a period of up to 50 years, and despite the fact that they have signed contracts (Project Cooperation Agreements) with the Federal government that also include commitments for periodic renourishment, they nevertheless get letters on government stationery from the Assistant Secretary of the Army telling them that the Administration will not honor those agreements. Dozens of local and state government officials have made fiscal plans to meet their share of those commitments, only to be told that the Administration has “determined” it will renege on those commitments – not just this coming fiscal year but forever more.

We urge this Subcommittee to continue congressional support for a program that produces at a minimum $2.50 in benefits for every tax dollar spent.

Extend and Modify the “Section 227” Shoreline Technology Demonstration Program

ASBPA urges this Subcommittee to include in WRDA 2004 bill language which extends the authorization of the program established in Section 227 of WRDA 1996 to test new technologies that offer the hope of restoring shorelines in ways that may be cheaper and more effective. Due to funding constraints, this program got a late start. However, it is well underway and deserves to be extended. We also recommend language that will enable the Federal government to pay for at least a portion of the cost of removing technology that has not proven to be effective. Having paid for its installation, the Federal government and not local governments should pay for any demonstration projects that may fail. Adding this provision will remove an obstacle to getting local governments to participate in the Section 227 program.

Authorize a Corps Regional Sediment Management Program

Regional sediment management is a concept that involves a holistic approach to coastal water resources planning and project formulation. Constructing a beach project in one county affects the shoreline of the next county to the south. Deepening a port channel can affect nearby shores. Sand that is dredged from a channel can be placed offshore or it can be kept within the sand system by placing onshore or nearshore. Sand that is taken from a channel can be used to create new coastal wildlife habitat. These are but a few of the examples of what can be done if the Corps of Engineers is given authority to plan ongoing projects that take account of all the essential resource components of the region. The use of regional sediment management (or RSM) is good for the environment and for water infrastructure. It also will save taxpayer dollars at the Federal, state, and local levels through the combined planning of projects that are currently most likely to be planned and constructed individually.

ASBPA supports the RSM programmatic language requested by Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Increase the Section 103 Program Limits

The Section 103 program is a Continuing Authorities Program that enables small shoreline protection projects to be constructed. However, the $3 million statutory project limit does not permit the program to be used to place sand on beaches where periodic renourishment is required. At this out-dated dollar limit, the program is more useful for constructing seawalls and other hard structures. We urge this Subcommittee to raise the Section 103 per-project limit to at least $20 million and to make a similar adjustment to the total annual amount authorized for the program.

Give the Economic Benefits of Recreation the Same Weight as Storm Damage Reduction Benefits

Beach projects provide significant storm damage reduction benefits. For homes near the coast, the best protection against wave surges is a healthy beach with a sound dune structure. However, the statutory language authorizing the Federal beach nourishment program provides two purposes for that program (33. U.S.C. 426(e)): First, to prevent erosion; Second, to promote public recreation. Beginning with WRDA 1986, however, a change was instituted which downgraded the importance that Congress had attached to the recreational benefits of beach nourishment projects. Prior to 1986, the Federal government could participate in beach projects whose primary benefit was to promote public recreation. That is no longer the case.

Beaches nourished with Federal financial participation must be fully accessible to the public. The history of the Federal program is replete with examples of the Corps of Engineers enforcing its requirements to provide adequate public access and parking spaces. Public access means public use and public use means economic benefits, not only for the local region but for the state and nation, as well. People spend money on food, lodging and other items. That spending creates jobs with taxable incomes and supports businesses with taxable profits. Two-thirds of those tax benefits go to the Federal Treasury. Yet, the Corps does not count these economic development benefits. They do give some weight to their definition of recreation benefits. This is often expressed through the Unit Day Value method of recreational benefit calculation. How much would an individual value his or her beach experience for a day? And how many visits are made by people over a beach season? Those benefits – which we contend are not a sufficient measure of the recreational value of beaches – currently cannot exceed more than 50% of the total benefits of a proposed beach project.

We urge this Subcommittee to adopt language in WRDA 2004 similar to that proposed by Senator Inouye (S. 1653) to require that the economic benefits of beach recreation be given equal weight with storm damage and environmental restoration in determining the national (NED benefits) of beach projects.

Strengthen and Modify Section 111 Mitigation Authority

Section 111 of WRDA 1986 provided authority for the Corps to investigate, plan and implement measures that would mitigate for shore damages caused by Federal navigation projects. The Administration has “determined” that it will not budget for any ongoing components of a mitigation project. I have attached to this statement proposed language with clarifies that ongoing work is an integral part of Section 111 projects, where the Corps determines that such work is appropriate, and which makes other clarifying changes in that provision of law.

Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the support both the Subcommittee and the full Committee have given to America’s water resources needs. We also appreciate the attention you have given to the process by which those needs are met. We hope that you will adopt the suggestions we have made as part of your WRDA 2004 bill and offer to work with you in any way that will help to get that bill enacted into law this year.

Attachment A
The Coastal Restoration Act – S 2105

Since 1995, the federal beach nourishment program has been a regular target of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Under two different administrations, one Democrat and the other Republican, there have been at least five efforts to radically change or terminate the program.

In 1996, Congress passed the Shore Protection Act as Section 227 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996. That legislation was the first statement by Congress since 1946 of its intent that there be an ongoing federal beach nourishment program. Unfortunately, that has not stopped OMB from trying to changing federal policies by making budget proposals that would cripple the program.

The Coastal Restoration Act raises the stakes for OMB. It restates the congressional intent regarding the vitality of the federal beach nourishment program. However, it goes far beyond. The CRA makes it clear that changes in administration policy will not prevent feasibility and other types of studies from being processed through the Corps and sent to Congress. The legislation emphasizes the role of Congress in determining which beach nourishment projects should be authorized for constructed. It also re-states and strengthens existing law that periodic renourishment is an integral part of the ongoing construction of a beach nourishment project.

Section-by-Section Summary

Declaration of Policy: This section makes it clear that what is commonly referred to as the Federal beach nourishment program includes the restoration of beaches which may have been damaged by erosion or other factors. It states that Congress recognizes the need to restore eroded beaches and maintain them. The phrase “or other coastal infrastructure” is added to emphasize that, under current law, studies and projects can encompass wetlands, estuaries, and other features of the coast. In carrying out the program, Congress states its intent that preference be given to areas (1) where there has been a previous investment of Federal funds, such as the initial construction of a beach nourishment project; (2) where regional sediment management plans have been adopted to integrate coastal beach nourishment, navigation, and environmental projects; (3) where there is a need to prevent or mitigate damage to shores, beaches, and other coastal infrastructure where that damage is caused at least in part by Federal navigation projects or other Federal activities; or (4) where the project promotes human health and safety as well as the quality of life for individuals and families. This last preference recognizes that a primary purpose for establishing the Federal beach nourishment program in 1946 was the promotion of public recreation.

Federal Contribution; maximum amount; exceptions: The Federal cost-share for the construction of beach projects is shared with non-Federal interests. The amount of that cost-share is governed by provisions of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, as amended. In general, that cost-share is 65 percent Federal/35 percent non-Federal for the initial construction of beach projects. Depending upon the year the project was authorized, the periodic renourishment cost-share is either 65/35 or 50/50. The provision changes the cost-sharing for separable costs for recreation purposes to make that cost-sharing consistent with the cost sharing for other beach nourishment purposes and assures that all national benefits will be considered equally in formulating and recommending a Federal project. Currently, when Federal funds are spent for recreation purposes the cost-sharing is 50/50. In addition, recreational benefits are considered incidental and are given less weight in identifying the Federal project than storm damage reduction and environmental restoration benefits. This paragraph changes the lower priority accorded to recreational benefits (which are also national economic development benefits) by giving equal consideration to all national project purposes without regard to budgetary policy or priority. It also establishes the cost share for beach nourishment projects whose primary net benefit is recreational at the same level of federal cost share participation as applies to storm damage and environmental restoration beach nourishment projects, The Secretary of the Army is required to identify the project that maximizes net benefits for all national benefit purposes and report the findings to Congress. The Secretary is also required to report the findings of studies as they pertain to all such benefits so that Congress has the prerogative to authorize the project and appropriate funds based on the Corps’ report findings.

Periodic beach nourishment; “construction” defined: The provision increases the emphasis of current law that the periodic renourishment of beach projects shall be part of the ongoing construction of those projects as authorized by Congress.

Authorization of projects: In order for the Federal government to participate in the construction of a beach nourishment project, it must be authorized by Congress. Such authorization must be preceded by studies to determine whether there is a Federal interest in participating in the project, a willing non-Federal cost share partner, and a project that meets the Corps’ economic, engineering, and environmental standards. The provision requires the Secretary of the Army to report the results of all studies that have been requested by Congress to the appropriate committees of Congress and to recommend to Congress the authorization of projects that have been approved by the Chief of Engineers. Should the Chief not approve a project, the Secretary is nevertheless required to report to Congress the results of any potential project that was studied by the Corps.

Coordination of projects: The Secretary is required to coordinate all water resource projects conducted by the Corps which may affect an individual beach nourishment project, as well as to coordinate the efforts of other Federal agencies which may have an impact on a beach nourishment project. This provision is intended to ensure that projects which have an impact on each other are coordinated.

Beach nourishment projects: This provision requires the Secretary of the Army to construct any beach nourishment project for which funds have been appropriated by Congress. Prior to construction, the Secretary will enter into a written agreement with the non-Federal sponsor which states the obligations of the Federal and non-Federal interests for a term that covers the period for that project that has been authorized by Congress. The intent of this provision is to emphasize current law that the Federal government and its non-Federal partner make binding commitments to each other, subject to the availability of funding.

Extension of the Period of Federal Participation: The provision also enables the period for Federal participation to be extended if a new study shows the project remains justified and if the extension is authorized by Congress.

Special Considerations: Construction of beach nourishment projects cannot be done when to do so would endanger a variety of species. In some instances the date of the approval for funding for a Federal fiscal year and the environmental “windows” for beach nourishment projects are in conflict with each other. For example, in years when Corps Districts do not get their allocations of funds until late January or thereafter, it may well be impossible to prepare a project for construction and to complete that construction within the environmental window. Therefore, this provision permits funds to be carried over into the following fiscal year. Current policy generally prohibits the carry over of appropriated funds from one year to another.



(a) EXTENSION OF PROGRAM.—Section 5(a) of the Act entitled ‘‘An Act authorizing Federal participation in the cost of protecting the shores of publicly owned property’’, approved August 13, 1946 (33 U.S.C. 426h(a)), is amended by striking ‘‘6 years’’ and inserting ‘‘10 years’’.
(b) EXTENSION OF PLANNING, DESIGN, AND CONSTRUCTION PHASE.—Section 5(b)(1)(A) of such Act (33 U.S.C. 426h(b)(1)(A)) is amended by striking ‘‘3 years’’and inserting ‘‘6 years’’.
(c) COST-SHARING; REMOVAL OF PROJECTS.—Section 5(b) of such Act (33 U.S.C. 426h(b)) is amended—
(1) by redesignating paragraphs (3) and (4) as paragraphs (5) and (6), respectively; and (2) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
‘‘(3) COST SHARING.—The Secretary may enter into a cost-sharing agreement with a non-Federal interest to carry out a project, or a phase of a project, under the erosion control program in cooperation with the non-Federal interest.
‘‘(4) REMOVAL OF PROJECTS.—The Secretary may pay all or a portion of the costs of removing a project, or an element of a project, constructed under the erosion control program if the Secretary determines during the term of the program that the project or element is detrimental to the environment, private property, or public safety.’’.
(d) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—Section 5(e)(2) of such Act (33 U.S.C. 426h(e)(2)) is amended by striking ‘‘$21,000,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$31,000,000’’.


Regional Sediment Management Proposal


(a) In General.--Section 204 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 (33 U.S.C. 2326) is amended by striking subsections (c) through (g) and inserting the following:

``(c) Regional Sediment Management Planning.--In consultation and cooperation with appropriate regional, State and Federal agencies, the Secretary, acting through the Chief of Engineers, shall investigate and develop, at Federal expense, plans and demonstration projects for regional management of sediment in conjunction with the construction, operation, or maintenance of navigation, flood control, recreation, environmental protection and restoration, and hurricane and storm damage reduction projects, as well as projects for water and power infrastructure which impede the flow of sand.
``(d) Regional Sediment Placement.--The Secretary, acting through the Chief of Engineers, shall carry out projects to transport and place sediment obtained in connection with the construction, operation, or maintenance of an authorized navigation, flood control, recreation, environmental protection and restoration, and hurricane and storm damage reduction projects, as well as projects for water and power infrastructure which impede the flow of sand.
``(e) Cooperative Agreement.--Any project undertaken pursuant to subsection (d) shall be initiated only after non-Federal interests have entered into a cost-sharing agreement with the Secretary in which the non-Federal interests agree to pay up to 35 percent of the incremental costs of such project.
``(f) Determination of Incremental Costs.-- Incremental costs associated with implementation of a project under subsection (d) shall be limited solely to the costs that are in excess of the costs necessary to dispose of sediments for construction, operation, or maintenance of the authorized navigation or flood control project under the least cost option, consistent with economic, engineering, and environmental criteria.
``(g) Effect on Other Projects.--The Secretary, to the greatest extent practicable, shall ensure that scheduled operations and maintenance of Federal navigation projects will not be delayed due to alternative disposal options authorized by subsection (d).
“(h) State and Regional Plans. -- The Secretary may-- "(1) cooperate with any State in the preparation of a comprehensive State or regional coastal sediment management plan within the boundaries of the State;
"(2) encourage State participation in the implementation of the plan; and
"(3) submit to Congress reports and recommendations with respect to appropriate Federal participation in carrying out the plan.".
“ (i) Coordination of Projects. -- In conducting studies and carrying out projects for regional sediment management, the Secretary shall--
"(1) determine whether there is any other project being carried out by the Secretary or the head of another Federal agency that may affect the regional sediment management project; and
"(2) if there is such a project, describe the efforts that will be made to coordinate the projects.
``(j) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $35,000,000 annually. Such sums shall remain available until expended.
``(k) Nonprofit Entities.--Notwithstanding section 221 of the Flood Control Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 24 1962d-5b), for any project carried out under this section, a non-Federal interest may include a nonprofit entity, with the consent of the affected local government.''.

(b) Repeal.--
(1) In general.--Section 145 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1976 (33 U.S.C. 21 426j) is repealed.
(2) Hold harmless.--The repeal made by paragraph (1) shall not affect the authority of the Secretary to complete any project being carried out under such section 145 on the day before the date of enactment of this Act.

[A Section-by-Section Comparison with a Similar provision in the House-passed version of WRDA is available by email ASBPA.Monitor@netlobby.com ]


The Sand Conservation and Taxpayer Savings Act – Fact Sheet

A Regional Program to Conserve Beach Quality Sand and Save Taxpayer Dollars

No initiative has received more attention within the Army Corps over the last five years than taking a new, holistic approach to planning and implementing water projects. Regional planning, regional sediment management, or watershed management are phrases designed to reflect an integrated approach to water resources planning. That planning approach reflects the integrated relationship of the resources themselves. The dredging of a channel, for example, inevitably has an impact on the shoreline adjacent to that channel. The Army Corps of Engineers has released a report (Watershed Perspectives for the Civil Works Program) that emphasizes coordinated planning and management of water resources. Currently, there is no statutory authority that offers sufficient congressional direction for the Corps to engage ongoing regional sediment planning and programs.

This proposal modifies Section 204 of the Water Resources Development Act. Its language takes a critical first step toward the planning and implementation of water resource projects on a regional basis. Currently, Section 204 provides authority for the beneficial use of sand for the protection, restoration, or creation of aquatic and ecologically related habitats. The language of this proposal expands that authority to include projects to place beach quality sand obtained from navigation or flood control projects on beaches or in nearshore disposal areas. The disposal areas must be selected by a local sponsor and must be for the purpose of maintaining shoreline (i.e., preventing erosion), or providing for recreation, storm damage reduction, or environmental protection and remediation. This authority is intended to be broader than the current policy limitations that apply to the justification of “shore protection” projects. Thus, for example, sufficient justification for meeting the requisite benefit-cost ration of at least 1:1 can be derived from a project where the placement of sand provides more recreation benefits than storm damage reduction benefits.

Plans for regional sediment management under this proposal are to be developed at Federal expense. The implementation of any project developed from those plans is under a 35 percent cost-share requirement for the non-federal sponsor. The congressional appropriations committees have funded the existing Section 204 program through the Corps’ Construction, General Account. Nothing in this language is intended to alter this funding account.

Language has been provided to assure that the initiation or implementation of a regional sediment management plan under Section 204 will not interfere with the operation or maintenance of existing Federal navigation projects. Thus, if Port A is scheduled to be dredged in FY 2005 and the planning or funding for a regional project intended to be carried out in connection with the dredging project is delayed for any reason, the dredging project for Port A will not be delayed even if it means that the implementation of the regional sediment management project is put off until the next dredging of Port A.

This proposal also repeals Section 145 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1976, which provides authority for what is popularly known as the Section 933 program. Section 933 programs are a form of regional sediment management which has limitations that are not contained in this new program. The primary limitation of Section 933 programs is that they are one-time projects and not ongoing regional sediment management programs.


Increase the Section 103 Project/Program Limits


Section 3 of the Act of August 13, 1946 (33 U.S.C. 426g), is amended—

(1) by striking ‘‘$30,000,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$100,000,000’’; and

(2) by striking ‘‘$3,000,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$20,000,000’’.

Fact Sheet

Section 103 of the Continuing Authorities Program was adopted by Congress under the River and Harbor Act of 1962. The purpose of this authority is to allow for the construction of small storm damage protection projects at the discretion of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Currently, the statutory Federal cost limitation per project is $3,000,000. Unfortunately, the limit set by Congress under this authority no longer realistically reflects current cost requirements for implementation of the full array of possible small projects for beach restoration and shoreline protection. As a result, the Corps of Engineers when undertaking small shore protection studies under the Section 103 authority typically defaults to recommending hard structures to solve shoreline erosion problems as small beach fill projects with periodic renourishment typically exceeds the congressionally established $3,000,000 Federal funding limit per project.

Over the past several years, particularly in the state of California, the legislative and regulatory climates have vigorously migrated to minimize the hardening of our shorelines. For the Corps of Engineers to be consistent with this new climate under the Section 103 program, the Chief of Engineers needs to seriously consider beach fill alternatives for small shoreline protection projects. Serious consideration of beach fill plans by the Corps of Engineers for solving shoreline erosion problems will only occur if the per project Section 103 cost ceiling is congressionally modified.

The proposed legislation raises the Section 103 statutory Federal cost limitation per project from $3,000,000 to $20,000,000. The proposed legislation also modifies the Section 103 total annual program from $30,000,000 to $100,000,000, to account for the proposed increase of the Section 103 project cost limit. Both increases are justifiable in terms of the need to promote sand nourishment as a tool for use in small shoreline protection projects.


S. 1653: National Beach Recreation and Economic Benefits Act

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘National Beach Recreation and Economic Benefits Act’’.

SEC. 2. GOALS TO BE ADDRESSED IN PLANNING OF WATER RESOURCE PROJECTS. Section 904 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2281) is amended to read as follows:

‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Each of the goals of enhancing national economic development, the quality of the total environment, the well-being of the people of the United States, the prevention of loss of life, and the preservation of cultural and historical values shall be addressed in the formulation and evaluation of water resources projects to be carried out by the Secretary.
‘‘(b) DISPLAY OF ASSOCIATED BENEFITS AND COSTS.—The quantifiable and unquantifiable costs and benefits associated with the goals relating to water resources projects described in subsection (a) shall be displayed in any analysis of the costs and benefits of those 14 projects.’’.

Subsection (e)(2)(B) of the first section of the Act of August 13, 1946 (33 U.S.C. 426e(e)(2)(B)), is amended by striking clause (ii) and inserting the following:
‘‘(ii) CONSIDERATIONS; PROCEDURES.—In making recommendations relating to shore protection projects under clause (i), the Secretary shall—
‘‘(I) consider the economic and ecological benefits of the shore protection projects; and
‘‘(II) develop and implement procedures for the determination of national economic benefits that treat benefits provided for recreation, hurricane and storm damage reduction, and environmental restoration equally.’’


Proposed Modification of Section 111 Authority

Section 111 of the River and Harbor Act of 1968 (82 Stat. 735, 33 U.S.C. 426i) is amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 111. The Secretary of the Army is authorized to investigate, study, plan, and implement structural and nonstructural measures for the prevention or mitigation of shore damages attributable to Federal navigation works and shore damage attributable to the AIWW and GIWW, if a non-Federal public body agrees to operate and maintain such measures, and, in the case of interests in real property acquired in conjunction with nonstructural measures, including sand nourishment and periodic renourishment, to operate and maintain the property for public purposes in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary. The costs of implementing measures under this section shall be cost shared in the same proportion as the cost sharing provisions applicable to the project causing the shore damage. No such project shall be initiated without specific authorization by Congress if the Federal first cost exceeds $5,000,000.".