Senators Collins, King and Representative Pingree Urge Administration to Prioritize Maintenance Dredging of York Harbor, Saco River

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget and the acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, who oversees the Army Corps of Engineers, urging them to prioritize the critical need for maintenance dredging of York Harbor and the Saco River. Neither site has been dredged in more than two decades, creating significant safety and navigational access concerns.

In their letter, Senators Collins and King and Representative Pingree noted that Congress recently provided an additional $49 million to support the maintenance of small ports and harbors in the recently passed federal funding bill. They called on the Administration to use that funding to provide approximately $2 million to dredge York Harbor and $3.2 million to dredge the Saco River. These projects are vital to the local fishing industries as well as to the regional economies.

“As dredging of [York Harbor and the Saco River] is essential to address significant safety and navigational access concerns in the region, we urge you to allocate additional funding provided by Congress in fiscal year (FY) 2017 to the York and Saco small port and harbor projects.” Senators Collins and King and Representative Pingree wrote. “This is funding designated by Congress to support our nation’s small ports and harbors, which are the economic lifeblood for many coastal communities in Maine and throughout the country…Both the York Harbor and Saco River FNP’s are ‘shovel ready,’ and completion of these projects would have a dramatic economic impact on the surrounding communities.”

The joint letter was sent to Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Doug Lamont, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works).

Click HERE to read the signed letter. The full text of the letter is below.

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The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Director
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20503

The Honorable Doug Lamont
Senior Official Performing the Duties of the
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
U.S. Department of the Army
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20310-0108

Dear Director Mulvaney and Mr. Lamont:

We are writing in support of the urgent need for maintenance dredging of the York Harbor Federal Navigation Project (FNP) in York, Maine, and the Saco River FNP in Saco and Biddeford, Maine. As dredging of these areas is essential to address significant safety and navigational access concerns in the region, we urge you to allocate additional funding provided by Congress in fiscal year (FY) 2017 to the York and Saco small port and harbor projects.

The recently enacted FY 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act provides funding for the Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program, including $49 million in additional operations and maintenance funding designated for small, remote, or subsistence navigation. This is funding designated by Congress to support our nation’s small ports and harbors, which are the economic lifeblood for many coastal communities in Maine and throughout the country.

Since York Harbor’s last dredging in 1996, more than 42,000 cubic yards of sand, silt, and clay have accumulated, hindering navigational access and compromising vessel safety. The Town of York has spent more than four years performing the required environmental studies and securing the requisite permits. York Harbor is a significant participant in the lobster and fishing industry in the State of Maine, and the significant lowering of the water level in York Harbor threatens the economy and safety in the local area. We support providing approximately $2 million in FY17 funding to dredge York Harbor, which supports and preserves an annual direct economic benefit of $12 million.

The Towns of Saco and Biddeford have also completed the permit process required for dredging of the Saco River, which has not received a maintenance dredging in over 24 years. The result of the neglect to the river is accumulation of more than 150,000 cubic yards of sand requiring removal. This dredged sediment would greatly assist in alleviating the on-going erosion at nearby Camp Ellis Beach, where to date 37 homes have been lost due to the erosion. We support providing approximately $3.2 million in FY17 funding to dredge the Saco River, which is home to more than 40 commercial fishing vessels and contributes more than $53 million in economic impact to the community each year.

Both the York Harbor and Saco River FNP’s are “shovel ready,” and completion of these projects would have a dramatic economic impact on the surrounding communities. To address these critical needs and maintain these essential water infrastructure projects in Maine, we urge you to prioritize funding in the Army Corps’ FY17 work plan, consistent with all applicable laws and regulations. Thank you for your consideration of our requests.

Sincerely,