07/29/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/29/2020 17:32
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) today announced the passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), legislation that provides authority for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) to carry out a feasibility study of the greater Williamsport Levee project.
While WRDA does not authorize funding for the Williamsport Levee, its passage marks an important milestone as the U.S. Army Corp can now conduct a feasibility study of the imminent threat the levee poses to Lycoming County's residence and economy if improvements are not made.
The Lycoming County Commissioners noted the positive impact the feasibility study will have on moving the levee project forward.
'Fundamental improvements to the levee have been our community's number one priority for public safety, compliance and economic development,' the Commissioners said. 'We want to thank Congressman Keller for his tireless efforts in the House to get the levee included in WRDA, which is a critically important step. '
Since its construction in 1955, the greater Williamsport Levee has held back the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and Lycoming Creek, protecting Lycoming County and greater Williamsport from economic disaster.
Currently, large sections of the levee are compromised and in need of serious improvements. After recent inspection by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), sections of the levee's relief wall and cross-pipes failed inspection and are at risk of failure without significant rehabilitation.
The flood zone behind the 20-mile levee system is responsible for roughly 87 percent of the Lycoming County's economic activity, an area that also employs 45 percent of the region's workforce. According to the USACE National Levee Database, more than $4 billion in economic assets, including 24 of the county's 50 largest employers, are at risk if the levee fails.
Congressman Keller has taken considerable action to move the Williamsport Levee project forward, including:
On the passage of the Water Resources Development Act, Congressman Keller made the following statement:
'I am pleased to support the passage of the Water Resources Development Act and give the U.S. Army Corp the authority to conduct an extensive study of the Williamsport Levee. While this is a good start, more needs to be done. We must act quickly to protect the livelihoods that would be lost if we stand idly by. I look forward to continuing to work with federal, state, and local officials to advocate for this critical infrastructure project and bring it across the finish line.'