WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the committee, received commitments from the nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Mr. R.D. James, to reevaluate and improve the current benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) metrics used by the Army Corps of Engineers to determine which flood mitigation projects receive funding, in an effort to make those funds more accessible to rural states like Iowa.
Senator Ernst highlighted the devastation following recent floods in Iowa and described how efforts to protect Cedar Rapids from future floods have been hampered by the current BCR metrics. The Iowa Senator explained that despite being first authorized in the 2014 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and then mentioned for prioritization in WRDA 2016, the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project has been unable to secure federal funding due to a low BCR that results from the relatively low property values in the area.
Mr. James agreed with Senator Ernst that the BCR metrics should be modified, and said, “it’s not right that there’s people in this country [who] will never, ever get any type of water infrastructure project under the current BCR analysis.” Mr. James also committed to working with Senator Ernst and the Office of Management and Budget on modifying the BCR in a timely manner.
Watch Senator Ernst’s questioning of Mr. James here or by clicking the image below.