Congressman Gosar meeting with Colonel Kirk Gibbs, Commander of the Los Angeles District, Army Corps of Engineers, in Washington D.C. on March 1, 2016.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) met with leaders from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to discuss priorities and the progress of Corps’ projects throughout Arizona’s 4th Congressional District. Representatives from the Corps present at the meeting included: Colonel Kirk Gibbs, Commander of the Los Angeles District; Mr. David Van Dorpe, Deputy District Engineer for Project Management; Mr. Eduardo De Mesa, Chief, Planning Division.
Following the meeting, Congressman Gosar stated, “Col. Gibbs and his senior staff get it. I would like to personally thank them for their time and all their efforts on numerous projects critical to Arizona’s well-being. The Corps continues to play a vital role in serving the unique needs of Arizonans by providing first-class engineering solutions and exceptional project management services. I am proud of the progress we have made to date and look forward to continuing the close working relationship with Col. Gibbs and his staff. Together, we can continue engineering a stronger Arizona.”
During the meeting Congressman Gosar and the Corps staff discussed the status of several priorities both have been working on together including:
Combating Invasive Saltcedar along the Gila River
Saltcedar, an invasive species, continues to harm and occupy hundreds of thousands of acres throughout the country. These invasive plants can consume up to 200 gallons of water per day per plant. Saltcedar squander precious water resources, limit recreational opportunities, degrade wildlife habitat and negatively impact flood as well as wildfire mitigation efforts. Invasive saltcedar comprise nearly 60% of the vegetation within the 18-mile stretch of the Gila River. The area of concern on the river is rampant with saltcedar that are overtaking the environment and contributing to litter, abandoned automobiles and other waste being left by local citizens. Congressman Gosar has been working hard to address these issues on the Gila since May 2014.
In the meeting, the Corps and Congressman Gosar discussed permits, potential funding opportunities and other options for combating invasive saltcedar along the Gila. Congressman Gosar spearheaded a bipartisan programmatic request that he is currently circulating to establish a pilot program for combating saltcedar that ensures coordination among the various federal agencies as well as consultation with state and local officials, tribes and other organizations. More information about this request can be found HERE.
Rio De Flag Flood Control
The Rio de Flag flood control project seeks to mitigate flooding from Rio de Flag and Clay Avenue Wash tributaries. A major flood could negatively impact over half of Flagstaff’s population of approximately 75,000 people. Estimates indicate that a single 100-year flood event could cause nearly $100 million in economic damages. Rio de Flag has consistently received Corps funding over the years and Congressman Gosar has been instrumental in that process, advocating for various phases of the project since he was first elected in 2011. The Corps workplan included $1.25 million for Rio De Flag in fiscal year 2016.
Lower Santa Cruz Flood Control
The Lower Santa Cruz River has a history of disastrous flooding during major storms resulting in severe damage to crops, farms, housing, communities, businesses, and infrastructure across the region. Major floods in 1983 and 1993 and more than 30 major flood events have occurred in the Lower Santa Cruz within the last 200 years. This area is also located in one of Arizona’s fastest growing communities and recurrence of a major flood would cause an estimated $186 million in damages. In May of 2011, Reps. Gosar and Griljalva (AZ-03) sent a bipartisan letter to the Office of Management and Budget and the Army Corps of Engineers expressing support for the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance’s efforts to jump start the project. The Lower Santa Cruz River is an international waterway; therefore, it's the federal government’s responsibility to take action and protect the citizens of the region from catastrophic flooding. The Corps included $700,000 for the Lower Santa Cruz in fiscal 2016 and has requested $400,000 to continue the feasibility study in fiscal year 2017.
Gosar amendments benefitting the Corps for FY16
Last year, the Congressman passed two amendments through the House that redirected resources from DOE administration to the Corps. The first transferred three million to the Corps construction budget. The second transferred one million dollars to the investigation budget. More information HERE.
Gosar-Newhouse Federal Dams Amendment in FY16
Last year, the House passed the Gosar-Newhouse amendment, targeted at supporting important water storage projects and preventing any appropriations from being used for misguided attempts to remove any federally-owned or operated dams. More information HERE.
Alamo Lake Dam Operations and Maintenance
The Alamo Lake Dam has received significant resources from the Corps in the last two fiscal years. Significant maintenance needs exist and the latest Corps’ studies indicate that a major flood event could result in the failure of the dam. Further complicating these challenges are the presence of bald eagle nests downstream from the dam. Congressman Gosar will continue to work with the Corps and local stakeholders in reviewing operational recommendations in hopes to ensure the structural integrity of the dam.