News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Pressured by public, Army Corps allows more time, transparency on NY Harbor storm surge barrier plans

Pressured by public, Army Corps allows more time, transparency on NY Harbor storm surge barrier plans

Barriers would have devastating effects on Hudson River ecology; Timeline is revamped in response to demands for public participation and details of plans

OSSINING — After months of public pressure, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to allow more time and transparency before advancing any of its storm flood protection plans for New York Harbor – many of which have potentially devastating consequences for the Hudson River ecosystem.

NYCSix conceptual plans are currently under review in the Corps’ New York – New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study. Four of them call for construction of massive, in-water storm surge barriers – giant ocean gates – that would cost as much as $140 billion, permanently and fundamentally damage the life of the Hudson and fail to address flooding from sea level rise – only storms.

The Corps presented the six options to the public in July with barely any notice and little information. Since then, thousands of individuals, numerous environmental groups, elected officials and at least 17 Hudson Valley communities have formally demanded more time, information and public participation.

What’s new:

  • The Corps announced this month that it would revamp its timeline and hold off until Spring 2020 before narrowing down the six current options to one or two. That step – one with enormous consequences for a 25-county region – was originally slated to be rushed through this Fall, with little public input. The Corps will also produce an interim report in early 2019 that could offer the first real details about the plans.
  • The New York City Council will hold a hearing Monday, October 22, on the Army Corps study and the Council’s resolution calling on the Corps to consider sea level rise – not just storms – in its flood protection plans. Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, said: “Frankly, it’s shocking the Corps is giving an incomplete answer to the question of how we make New York City more resilient. The public deserves to give its say on these proposals, which I strongly urge the Corps to reconsider altogether.”
  • The Corps is continuing a public “scoping” period through November 5, and will hold a public meeting in Long Island Tuesday, October 23, 5 p.m., Melville Hall at the US Merchant Marine Academy, 300 Steamboat Road, Kings Point, N.Y.

Read Riverkeeper’s update in full:

Army Corps yields to pressure on NY Harbor storm surge barrier plans

For background, read the New York City’s Economic Development Council report, “A Stronger, More Resilient New York” Chapter on Coastal Protection, 2013:

“In theory, one way to achieve the City’s goals for its coastline may be the construction of massive protective infrastructure, such as harborwide storm surge barriers at the entrances to New York Harbor. As attractive as the concept of a single “silver bullet” solution may be, though, a closer examination of this strategy strongly suggests that relying on such a solution would pose significant risks to the city that far outweigh its theoretical benefits.”

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