(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) issued the following statements after the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) cleared the bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, biennial legislation that authorizes water infrastructure projects around the country. Shaheen and Hassan helped secure critical New Hampshire objectives in the bill that urge the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to prioritize mitigation efforts at Hampton and Portsmouth Harbors.
“I am pleased to see the Committee advance this legislation with New Hampshire measures that are critical to our coastal communities and commercial fishing industry,” said Senator Shaheen. “By including Hampton and Portsmouth Harbors, the bill will support the seacoast economy and public safety. I’m grateful that the Committee leadership prioritized these New Hampshire objectives, and I will continue to work across the aisle to push for swift action on these projects.”
“I commend the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for voting to approve these two important projects that will strengthen water infrastructure in the Granite State and help ensure that Portsmouth and Hampton Harbors can continue to drive economic development on the Seacoast,” said Senator Hassan. “Strong water infrastructure is vital to the safety of our people and the vitality of our economy, and I’ll continue working to ensure that New Hampshire’s infrastructure system gets the federal investments it needs to continue supporting our people and communities.”
Addressing the Committee leadership earlier this year, Shaheen and Hassan requested the Committee support the Hampton Harbor Navigation Improvement Project and the Portsmouth Harbor & Piscataqua River Navigation Improvement Project. The America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes the Senators’ language that would permit emergency dredging for Hampton Harbor. Significant shoaling at Hampton has caused sand to pile high enough to prevent boats from exiting and entering the harbor at low tides. For Portsmouth Harbor, the current 800-foot width of the turning basin on the Piscataqua River is a safety concern for large cargo ships. The Senators’ provision will permit the basin to be widened by 400 feet, which will allow for broader use of area ports, improve navigational safety and provide an economic boost for New Hampshire and the region. In addition to Congressional approval, these mitigation efforts would need to be included in the Corps’ work plan.
Senators Shaheen and Hassan have been steadfast advocates on behalf of New Hampshire fishermen and coastal communities in Hampton and Portsmouth. In March, Shaheen and Hassan called on the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James to include emergency dredging for Hampton Harbor in the OMB and the Corps’ fiscal year 2018 work plan. Shaheen and Hassan have repeatedly called for the Corps to dredge Hampton Harbor.