Sullivan Celebrates Partnership to Build Seawall Protecting Utqiagvik
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—Senator Sullivan today participated in the signing of the U.S. Corps of Engineers Alaska District Project Partnership Agreement with the North Slope Borough for the Barrow Coastal Erosion Project. This partnership, and the funding for the erosion project, is a result of efforts Senator Sullivan, as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has made since in 2018, when the community of Utqiagvik lost its ocean seawall that protects parts of the downtown area due to coastal storms. The lack of coastal protection for Utqiagvik has jeopardized lives and threatened the integrity of the Old Barrow Landfill and critical community infrastructure, including the community’s only fresh water source. The community has been spending millions of dollars every year to build temporary dirt berms to protect the city.
“I’m excited that at long last, we’ve taken the last step in a years’ long process to build a seawall to protect the community of Utqiagvik,” said Senator Sullivan. “For years, I’ve worked hand-in-glove with North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower, Jr., and other leaders of the Borough, tribes, and the community of Utqiagvik to secure funding for this vital seawall. That work includes creating a new program for storm damage prevention and erosion projects with a 10 percent cost share for economically disadvantaged communities, like Utqiagvik. I want to thank the U.S. Corps of Engineers for their cooperation and the community of Utqiagvik and the North Slope Borough for their strong leadership.”
“We can’t thank our partners in this fight for permanent costal protection enough,” said North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower, Jr. “I want to especially thank Senator Sullivan for his relentless work on this project. He has been a supporter and a champion of people of the North Slope Borough from my first year in office back in 2016.”
- On August 13, 2021, Senator Sullivan visited Utqiagvik with Corps of Engineers leadership to tour the area and see the need for a coastal erosion project.
- On December 13, 2021, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Connor expressing support for the timely allocation of funds for the Barrow Alaska Coastal Erosion Mitigation Project.
- On January 19, 2022, funding was announced for $364 million to construct the Barrow Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project as part of a $925 million funding package for Alaska that included long-sought infrastructure projects for Alaska. In addition to the Barrow Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, these projects included funding for the Port of Nome, the Lowell Creek Flood Diversion System, the Kenai River Coastal Erosion Project, and upgrades to the Moose Creek Dam near North Pole.
- On December 15, 2022, the Senate passed the FY2023 NDAA, which included the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022. The president signed the FY2023 into law on December 23, 2022. This legislation created a program for projects to address storm damage prevention and reduction, coastal erosion, and ice and glacial damage in Alaska with a 10% cost share for economically disadvantaged communities. Economically disadvantaged communities is defined with a very broad definition with the intent that most of our communities across Alaska in need should qualify. This was the program utilized to authorize construction for the project, and lowered the cost share for the community.
# # #
Next Article Previous Article