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Federal support is coming to Delaware for shoreline protection and water infrastructure projects

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Federal funds from the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 are on their way to protect and maintain the nation’s lowest lying state.

“For us this is really important because it’s a culmination of hearing the voices of communities here in Delaware. It’s a national bill with local impact,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester.

She adds she focused on making sure the new law addressed restoration of shorelines and making communities across the state more resilient to the effects of climate change.

This comes from the SHORRE Act, which has major provisions in the WRDA.

“Part of the challenge that many of the communities face is funding and resources and tools,” Blunt Rochester explained. “So what our bill the SHORRE Act does is it allows the Army Corps of Engineers to have a broader mission to be able to have more resources, and that way they can take some of the burden off of local communities.”

The Act specifically seeks to aid economically disadvantaged communities by only requiring a 10 percent non-federal contribution toward shoreline and riverbank restoration and protection projects, rather than the previous 35 percent.

And each county in the state is receiving $35 million for individual environmental infrastructure programs focused on drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.

“To the extent that we address climate change, sea level rise, and crazy weather, we also create jobs and economic opportunity. Some people say we can’t do good things for the planet, protect the planet- clean air, clean water and so forth- and create jobs,” said Senator Tom Carper. “No, we can do both at the same time. And one of the great things about the legislation that we’ve passed and that we’re enacting here was state and local assistance and participation. We’re going to create a lot of jobs and protect a lot of jobs, as well.”

The Army Corps, whose work on statewide infrastructure projects such as the construction and maintenance at the Port of Wilmington, intracoastal waterways directly support Delaware's economic growth and protection, will also have increased funding and freedom to make strategic decisions.

The bill was signed into law on December 23rd, and a substantial portion of the projects supported under this act are set to go into effect before the end of the year.

And projects involving public health and safety will be prioritized.

Click here to read more about how this bill will specifically affect the State of Delaware.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and a graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021