Legislation authorizes projects to prevent coastal erosion, manage flood risks, and improve water infrastructure in Massachusetts

Washington (May 22, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today applauded passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2024 through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. WRDA is the biannual bill to authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that support the nation’s water infrastructure. The legislation that passed today includes several major priorities to address local Massachusetts needs.

“In the Bay State, WRDA stands for Water Risks Demand Action. This legislation takes action for Massachusetts residents and delivers much needed resources for communities,” said Senator Markey. “From historic flooding along the Connecticut River to dangerous coastal erosion on Cape Cod, Massachusetts is experiencing the frontline effects of climate change. Our communities need support, and I’m proud to say the Water Resources Development Act of 2024 delivers critical water infrastructure projects right on time. This legislation authorizes the Army Corps to help coastal communities like Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and Scituate revamp aging coastal infrastructure and promote coastal resiliency. It provides inland communities, including Easthampton and Franklin County, resources to prepare for historic catastrophic flooding along the Manhan and Connecticut Rivers. With the projects authorized under this legislation, communities facing the worsening effects of climate change can move from scared to prepared.”

Senator Markey’s provisions in the Water Resources Development Act include:

  • Oak Bluffs – Authorizes a new Army Corps feasibility study on flood risk management along East Chop Drive
  • Oak Bluffs – Authorizes a new Army Corps feasibility study on coastal storm risk for the town’s north and south jetties
  • Tisbury – Authorizes a new Army Corps feasibility study for coastal storm risk management along Beach Road Causeway
  • Western Massachusetts/Franklin County – Authorizes a new Army Corps feasibility study on flood risk management along the Connecticut River
  • Scituate – Authorizes a new Army Corps feasibility study on hurricane storm damage risk reduction in the Cedar Point neighborhood
  • Easthampton – Authorizes $10 million in Environmental Infrastructure assistance to improve the town’s wastewater outflow system
  • Lowell – Increases the authority for Combined Sewage Overflow construction work from $20 million to $30 million
  • Northampton – Carves out special authorization for the Army Corps to study and assist with the flood pump control system. 
  • Sandwich – Increases the project cap on a coastal restoration project from $12.5 million to $15 million, continuing to address decades of dangerous erosion caused by the federal Cape Cod Canal jetties.
  • Barnstable County – Authorizes two Government Accountability Office investigations into how to improve the permitting process nationally, and directs the Army Corps to improve the online “Permit Finder” so local officials can better track the status of permits. While these reforms are national, they reflect the recommendations of the Barnstable County Dredging Advisory Committee and Cape Cod communities.
  • Cape Cod – Includes report language that encourages improved coordination between the Army Corps and Massachusetts to support the Cape Cod drawbridge. 

Senators Markey and Warren have long worked to ensure bipartisan water resource and infrastructure legislation includes investments for Massachusetts. In 2016, the two lawmakers secured provisions that increased funding and resource opportunities for the Commonwealth and directly supported water resource and infrastructure projects in Boston and coastal communities along the Massachusetts shoreline. In 2021, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act included Senator Markey’s provisions to increase funding for the federal assistance for the Small and Disadvantaged Communities Program to $510 million over five years, supporting the program’s efforts in guaranteeing clean drinking water in frontline communities, and to expand an existing grant program so that more municipalities could access federal funds to help develop systems to notify residents of sewer overflows. In 2022, the senators secured project authorizations for places including North Attleboro, Chelsea Creek, North Adams, the North Shore, Wellfleet, Truro, Sandwich and Chatham.