Carper Introduces Legislation in Senate to Add the District of Columbia to NOAA’s List of Coastal States

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced the Flood Prevention Act of 2018 (S. 3146), a bill that would add the District of Columbia (D.C.) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Zone Management Program, which would help the Capital protect its coastal interests and economies, invest in resilience, and respond individually and—as necessary—regionally to offshore threats and opportunities. A companion bill was introduced last year by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Just like Delaware and other coastal states around the country, D.C. is battling the effects of climate change, like sea level rise and flooding as a result of more frequent and extreme storms. However, unlike other vulnerable coastal states, D.C. currently is unable to access federal funds to help prepare for these types of risks and to prevent and mitigate future flood damage,” said Senator Carper. “This is a matter of fairness. It’s time to add our nation’s Capital, along with its nearly 700,000 residents, to the list of coastal states to ensure that D.C. has the resources it needs to help combat the greatest environmental threat of our lifetime.”

“I thank Senator Carper for once again being a champion for D.C. residents as he fights to ensure the District can qualify for critical federal flood mitigation and prevention funding,” said Congresswoman Norton. “D.C. is situated on two rivers and has substantial flood risk, including in areas Congress should pay particular attention to, such as the National Mall and Federal Triangle, where numerous federal agencies are located. This bill is increasingly urgent to ensure local and federal parcels in the District are protected.”

“Our waterways are an integral part of the District’s identity and economy, and we thank Senator Tom Carper and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for introducing legislation to add Washington, D.C. to the National Coastal Zone Management Program,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “This legislation, which has been a top priority for the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and our Office of Federal and Regional Affairs, will ensure that we can effectively protect and restore the District’s diverse coastal areas—a win for residents, visitors, and the environment.”

Nearly 70 percent of the District of Columbia is located within the coastal plain. Due to sea level rise, upstream sources of water and degraded infrastructure, the District could experience inflated future cleanup and repair costs—including damage to federal property, which makes up almost 30 percent of the District. Since 1950, NOAA reports there has been a 343 percent increase in nuisance flooding in the District, and, since 2006, D.C. has experienced two 100-year flooding events. District officials estimate that a future, larger flood event could cause over $1.5 billion in damages.

If included in the Coastal Zone Management Program, D.C. could be eligible for $1 million or more of federal funding annually to assist in coastal flood-control projects, combat non-point source water pollution and develop special area management plans in areas experiencing environmental justice and/or flooding issues. D.C. could also use the federal consistency process to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies comply with its coastal zone management plan for any federally funded or permitted projects.