Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) announced nearly $12 million in funding will be made available to dredge Channel Islands Harbor and to replenish sand at Hueneme Beach, which has been threatened with potential structural damage to roads and buildings due to severe erosion.
Funding will come from $4.4 million in the Army Corps of Engineers FY2014 Work Plan and $5.3 million in the White House’s FY2015 budget request. Additionally, the Navy committed to Congresswoman Brownley that it would fund its 19 percent of the total cost, bringing the total to nearly $12 million.
“Despite the scarcity of funds available for smaller ports and harbors across the nation, I worked closely with the Obama Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Navy, to reiterate how critical it is for Ventura County’s economy to ensure the channel remains navigable, and to protect roads and homes at Hueneme Beach by replenishing much needed sand. I appreciate their attention to this very important priority for me and my district,” said Brownley.
“The County is grateful for the effective action of Congresswoman Julia Brownley in Washington to ensure the public health and safety at Channel Islands Harbor and Hueneme Beach. Funding was critical to resolve this emergency situation. I am pleased that residents of Port Hueneme who have suffered from the loss of sand, which jeopardized both their use of their beach and significant infrastructure, will greatly benefit from this action,” said Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long.
“We are very pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated funds in the work plan for Channel Islands Harbor. The amount of sand in the sand trap puts our northern entrance at risk, and the resulting erosion to the South, especially at the City of Port Hueneme, is at a critical level. We very much appreciate Congresswoman Brownley’s hard and effective work on this issue,” said Lyn Kreiger, Director of the Ventura County Harbor Department.
“This is good news. The people of Port Hueneme owe a debt of gratitude to our Congressmember, Julia Brownley, who has tirelessly worked on this difficult issue from her first day in office,” said Jonathan Sharkey, Mayor of Port Hueneme.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging Channel Islands Harbor decades ago because erosion was threatening Navy installations at Port Hueneme and the dredging provided the sand to replenish what had washed away. This project has historically been funded 100 percent by the federal government with the Navy contributing 19 percent. However, due to inadequate federal funding in FY2013, the Corps was only able to dredge a fraction of the sand that it normally dredges.
The next bi-annual dredge was not scheduled to occur until FY2015. However, Brownley worked with her House and Senate colleagues, including Senator Feinstein, to provide additional funds in the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations legislation for the backlog of harbor maintenance projects across the nation. At Brownley’s request, the President has allocated a portion of those funds for the Channel Islands Harbor dredging project.
Brownley also authored two amendments to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) that are intended to ensure the Army Corps has sufficient funds to prevent this crisis from reoccurring. Brownley’s amendments passed the House with broad bi-partisan support.