Approved by the Energy, Environment and Water Policy Committee on February 17, 2022
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 18, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2022
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports:
- Reauthorization and continued funding for coastal wetland preservation and restoration projects under the Coastal Wetlands, Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act of 1990 (CWPPRA).
- Targeted revenue-sharing funding sources for coastal resiliency from energy development initiatives such as the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA, P.L. 109-432) and the Opening Federal Financing Sharing to Heighten Opportunities for Renewable Energy (OFFSHORE) Act of 2020.
- Efforts to reduce land loss along coastal wetlands through protection and restoration of the physical and ecological processes necessary to sustain these unique ecosystems.
- Funding and implementing beneficial use of dredged material, regional sediment management plans, and a programmatic authorization of federal civil works projects that allow restoration and preservation work to continue on a long-term basis.
- The principle that coastal wetland restoration and hurricane protection are part of an integrated regional watershed and coastal zone management effort, which considers the interrelationships of natural, social, and economic systems from coordinated federal, state, local and private initiatives.
Coastal wetlands are extremely valuable because they can decrease flooding, remove pollutants from water, recharge groundwater, store carbon, protect shorelines, provide habitat for wildlife, and serve important recreational and cultural functions.
The largest percentage of coastal wetlands in the United States (U.S.) are along the Atlantic and Southeastern coastal states and they provide ecological and economic resources. However, the U.S. is losing significant acreage of coastal wetlands. According to the joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Report on the Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States the U.S. lost 360,720 acres of an estimated 41.1 million acres of coastal wetlands in the coastal watersheds between 2004 and 2009. Some losses can be attributed to the filling of coastal wetlands for development. Some losses are occurring due to land subsidence and erosion. For example, Louisiana coastal wetlands have been disappearing at the alarming rate of 25 to 35 square miles annually. Between 1932 and 2016, over 2,000 square miles were lost, and it is estimated that an additional 500 square miles will be lost by 2050.
The enactment of CWPPRA in 1990 initiated efforts to address the losses in Louisiana and created a grant funding source for projects that protect and restore coastal wetlands. Since CWPPRA’s enactment, over $400 million in grant monies have been awarded. Grant funds are generated through taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels.
Additional funding for coastal wetlands restoration in the Gulf states became available after the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill. One such project is the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion on the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana which is expected to deliver 32 million cubic yards of sediment over 25 years to rebuild lost coastal wetlands.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Wetlands states that U.S. coastal wetlands provide billions of dollars of economic service to people and the environment. That number accounts for cost savings due to flood reduction, recreation, and harvesting natural resources. Restoring coastal wetlands can provide a level of flood attenuation to storm surge and protection from erosive forces, as well as valuable ecological benefits.
ASCE Policy Statement 498
First Approved in 2003