Omnibus Bill brings Authorizations and Appropriations to US Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District

USACE Wilmington District
Published Jan. 14, 2021

Passed into law was the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2021, which provides funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program, including Regulatory funding, necessary for administration of laws pertaining to regulation of navigable waters and wetlands, and Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) for expenses necessary to prepare for flood, hurricane, and other natural disasters and support emergency operations, repairs for disasters as authorized by law.  Most of Wilmington District’s appropriations are for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) (~ $53 million) of projects.

The District’s O&M projects include maintenance dredging of multiple deep and shallow draft navigation harbors and channels, such as the Wilmington Harbor at $15.1 million, Morehead City Harbor at $7.1 million, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) at $3.6 million. The District’s five multi-purpose reservoirs are included in the funding with John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir in VA & NC receiving $10.9 million for flood risk management, hydropower operations, environmental stewardship, recreation and other authorized purposes and services to the public. The other four multipurpose projects received a combined $13.6 million to continue to provide similar services.

As in prior year’s appropriations bills, Congress provided “funding pots” for which the Corps will develop a “Work Plan” to utilize the funding. The Corps has sixty days to submit a Work Plan to the Congress following enactment of the bill. A follow-on press release will disclose the Wilmington District’s FY21 Work Plan projects.

Also passed into law, was the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2021. 

This provides funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for study, planning, design, architect and engineer services, acquisition and construction for facilities and real property on military installations. Wilmington District provides these services for Special Operations units at Fort Bragg, NC.

New project authorizations were included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 for three projects relating to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District.  Rep. David Rouzer (NC-07) noted, “Also included in the overall package was a water resources development bill that includes major wins for Southeastern North Carolina.  Among those wins, the federal funding cap for Wrightsville Beach was lifted allowing for federal funds to continue to be used for coastal storm damage reduction, and authorization for those projects at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach is a certainty for years to come.” 

At Carolina Beach, periodic nourishment of the shoreline would continue at a 3-year interval through 2036 using the Carolina Beach Inlet borrow source with the next event scheduled for 2022, subject to the availability of funds.

At Wrightsville Beach, periodic nourishment of the shoreline would continue at a 4-year interval through 2036 using the Masonboro Inlet/Banks Channel borrow source, and offshore sources as needed, with the next event scheduled for 2022, also subject to the availability of funds.

The sponsor of both projects, the towns of Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach, and New Hanover County and the State of North Carolina as key stakeholders, were instrumental in providing technical assistance and cost shared funding for both studies completed for these projects.

The North Carolina State Port Authority’s Wilmington Harbor Navigation Improvement Project (WHNIP) is also included in the WRDA bill. WHNIP was conducted by NC Ports, under the Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, as amended, which allows a non-Federal Interest to undertake a feasibility study.  This study evaluated potential harbor improvements, including deepening, to accommodate larger US East Coast to Asia cargo ships calling the Port of Wilmington, NC. With the now authorized WHNIP Feasibility Study, appropriations funding will be required for the Wilmington District to address modifications or conditions the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) considers appropriate and prepare a final assessment that addresses concerns, recommendations, and conditions identified in the Secretary’s prior review assessment. Such an assessment would be provided to Congress. 

WRDA is strictly authorizing legislation. The funding to implement authorized studies, projects, and activities is provided separately through the annual appropriations budgetary process.







Release no. 21-001