SUCCESS!!! Kansas Citys Levees Policy Clarification

30 Jan 2019 7:45 PM | Tom Poer (Administrator)

ASA-CW Directs Full Federal Funding for Kansas Citys Levees On 17 January 2019 the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA-CW), Mr. RD James, directed the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to address the Kansas Citys Levees as a single on-going construction project to be fully federally funded under the provisions of Public Law 115–123, enacted February 9, 2018, as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and including Supplemental Appropriations related to disaster relief.  This policy clarification by Mr. James comes after years of advocacy and perseverance by MOARC, KCIC, KCMO and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas to correct the misinterpretation that Phase 1 and Phase 2 were to be treated as separate independent projects, as opposed to a comprehensive levee system.  The project was envisioned and developed as a system improvement of the nearly 60-miles of seven levees providing protection to over $20 billion in investments, 94,000 workers, and 20,000 residents.          

The ASA’s policy clarification fully recognizes the KC Levees system approach and the Phase 1 and 2 improvements as on-going construction activities for the project.  Lacking this clarifying directive meant only the remainder of Phase 1 would be fully federally funded—Phase 2 improvements would be subject to the typical project cost sharing (65% Federal / 35% Local).

 

Perseverance pays off!   MOARC has been working with the Corps and Congress since before the initial project authorization of Phase 1 in 2007 to ensure an on-going system approach for the two project phases—first seeking modification of the Phase 1 authority to add Phase 2, and then when Phase 2 was separately authorized, seeking to have those authorities combined.  All the while, the Corps Headquarters continued to address these levee system improvements as two distinct projects impeding project implementation despite the continued rationale for and documentation of the agreed upon Corps and local sponsors project vision and approach—a system-wide levee improvement. 

With Supplemental Appropriations related to disaster relief being made available, MOARC recognized there was an opportunity for the remainder of the KC Levees project (both Phases 1 and 2) to be fully federal funded!  And, we got to work!!  With MOARC’s deep understanding of Corps process and policy, together with our strong federal network, we were able to quickly determine the Corps would treat Phase 2 as a separate, rather than ongoing project.  Meaning that, even though federal funds of $453 million were identified for KC Levees, there would still be required a 35% local match for Phase 2.  Only by having the KC Levees Project (Phase 1 and 2) considered as one project would allow for full federal funding of the remainder of the project to be realized. 

MOARC began working with members of Congress from Missouri and Kansas, as well as relevant congressional committees, to get the necessary clarification in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018.  With much appreciated support from Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) WRDA 2018 addressed this specific issue, but the language was not a clear enough directive for the Corps to treat the 2 phases as part of one project.  Recognizing this, MOARC continued to work with several of our congressional members to get this resolved.  The entire Kansas and Missouri delegation were supportive throughout, and some were able to be especially helpful—Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) inclusion of further clarifying language in the Senate WRDA 2018 explanatory statement.  In addition, Senator Moran’s ongoing contact with the ASA-CW’s office helped to ensure the KC Levees language was implemented.         

In response to MOARC’s informed messaging and with coordination of the local governments, the congressional offices worked with the Senate Energy and Public Works (EPW) Committee to clarify Congress’s desired intent.  Letters and calls from our congressional offices and the EPW Committee to the Administration set the stage for policy review by the Assistant Secretary of the Army-Civil Works (ASA-CW).  Based on that review, the ASA-CW made the policy determination that Kansas Citys Levees is be treated as a single on-going project and directed the Corps to budget the project as on-going construction under the provisions and policies for the supplemental appropriations.    

Hard work, Advocacy and Perseverance paid off as the Corps begins to move forward with the local sponsors to sign a new Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) that will provide full federal funding of the project through completion of the remaining design and construction of the KC Levees project. 

Without help, hard work and diligent pursuit, we could not have achieved this most desirable outcome.  MOARC offers ongoing and sincere appreciation to our members of Congress and the congressional committees that worked to help achieve this success!  To the Assistant Secretary of the Army–Civil Works, the Honorable R.D. James, and his extraordinary staff, we extend our special thanks in gratitude for what this means to KC!     


 

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