H. R. 5927
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
June 7, 2012
Mr. Tonko introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To authorize the Secretary of Interior to carry out projects and conduct research on water resources in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin, to establish a Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Commission, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Act of
Congress finds the following:
The Hudson-Mohawk River Basin together with the Erie Canal connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and includes the 13,400 square mile area encompassing five large sub-basins: the Upper Hudson River sub-basin, the Mohawk River sub-basin, the Lower Hudson River sub-basin, the Passaic River sub-basin, and the Raritan River sub-basin.
The Hudson-Mohawk River Basin played an essential role in the birth of our Nation and its westward expansion. The water of the Hudson-Mohawk Basin is the ink used to write the early United States history of European settlement and the American Revolution. The Basin’s rivers served as a major transportation corridor connecting the communities along it from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
The Hudson-Mohawk River Basin includes the largest metropolitan area of the country: the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. This metropolitan area, together with the many communities in the Upper Hudson, Mohawk, and Lower Hudson sub-basins, makes the area one of the most densely and heavily populated river basins in the country with over 15,000,000 people.
The water resources of the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin are functionally interrelated and their uses are interdependent. A single entity is essential to provide effective communication, coordination, and cooperation among Federal, State, and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector for this area.
The New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary is a complex natural harbor at the junction of three major water bodies, the New York Bight, the Hudson River and the Long Island Sound. In addition, it receives freshwater inputs from the Raritan and Passaic Rivers. The health and productivity of the New York Bight is affected directly by the quality of the freshwater inputs to the estuary from the Hudson, Passaic, and Raritan Rivers.
The headwaters of the Hudson originate within the Adirondack Mountains, a treasured northeastern wilderness area, protected under the New York State constitution since 1894. The Hudson’s path south through the Hudson River Highlands, and the Mohawk’s path south east to its junction with the Hudson, provides the only natural break in the Appalachian Mountain chain.
The Mohawk Valley’s abundant natural resources, and fertile floodplain soils provided a rich endowment that first supported the Mohawk nation and the Iroquois Confederacy and later supported European settlement and the development of industry and commerce.
The Mohawk River and its watershed drain directly into the Hudson River providing the largest freshwater input to the brackish water mix that characterizes the Hudson River Estuary and supports a biologically rich and productive ecosystem.
The Mohawk River is integrated with the Erie Canal along much of its channel. Therefore, tying the operation of the Canal system to the health of the Mohawk and the Hudson Rivers.
Individuals in many communities throughout the Basin have experienced devastating flooding that led to tremendous costs for businesses, State, and local governments. A holistic approach to river and stream monitoring, updated floodplain maps, and development of floodplain management strategies based upon improved understanding of the Basin’s hydrology would make communities safer and more resistant and resilient to flood events.
Each of the subwatersheds of the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin receives support of programs administered by Federal, State, regional, and local organizations.
There has been little integration of planning and program implementation to address the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin in a holistic manner.
New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have a long history of achievements working together on resource management issues through their memberships in the Delaware River Basin Commission, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, and the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
Development and implementation of projects to control flooding and improve water quality must be done with the full participation of local communities and citizens, address the needs they identify, and be conducted in a manner that respects private property and is consistent with the authorities of state and local jurisdictions.
Hudson-Mohawk river basin
The term Hudson-Mohawk River Basin means the area of drainage of the Hudson, Mohawk, Passaic and Raritan Rivers and their tributaries into the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. This includes areas in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
The term Commission means the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Commission established under section 4.
The term water resources means all surface waters and ground waters contained or otherwise originating within the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin.
Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Commission
The President shall—
establish the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin Commission in cooperation with the Governors of the States included in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin to coordinate activities being undertaken by the States, advisory committees, local governments, institutions of higher education, and non-governmental organizations to address environmental, economic, and cultural issues associated with the management and use of resources in the Hudson-Mohawk Watershed; and
designate the Secretary of Interior to serve as a member of the Commission and as coordinator of participation of relevant Federal agencies in the activities of the Commission.
The Commission shall include a Federal representative designated by the President, and the Governors of the 5 States whose territory is encompassed by the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin and its associated ground waters; New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Each of the 4 Governors shall appoint an alternate to act on the Governor’s behalf including attendance at meetings of the Commission and with the power to vote in the absence of the member.
Duties of the Commission
The Commission shall—
develop and implement plans, policies, and projects relating to the water resources of the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin;
adopt and promote uniform and coordinated policies for management and conservation of water resources in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin;
adopt an annual capital budget, including all projects the Commission proposes to undertake or continue during the budget period with a statement of the estimated cost of each project and the method of financing the project; and
coordinate and direct the development, implementation, operation, and financing of water resources projects consistent with its plans and policies.
The Commission shall develop and adopt a comprehensive plan for the development and use of water resources of the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin. In developing the plan the Commission shall—
consult with State and Federal agencies with jurisdiction over water resources, local governments, non-governmental organizations, public utilities, water users, and other interested parties;
prior to adoption of the plan or any subsequent revision of the plan, publish a draft plan and provide opportunity for public comment; and
periodically review and revise the plan.
The plan shall address all projects and facilities required for development, conservation, use, management, and control of the water resources of the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin to meet present and future needs. The plan shall—
identify water resource needs in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin related to water supply, water quality, flooding, ecosystems, fisheries, energy production, navigation, recreation, agriculture, and economic development and establish goals for protection or enhancement of water resources to address the identified needs;
inventory the historic and cultural resources of the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin and identify projects to provide for cultural enrichment, preservation of cultural resources, public education about local heritage and historical significance of properties, canals, and other historic sites within the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin;
provide a comprehensive assessment of the status of water resources in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin and identify additional research and information required to support management of water resources in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin; and
provide a mechanism to promote communication and coordination among the organizations engaged in water resource management activities to encourage efficient use of scarce resources, avoid conflicts and inconsistencies, to promote consistent and fair treatment of all water users, and to promote collaborative working relationships among all entities working in the Hudson-Mohawk River Basin.
Water resources program
The Commission shall adopt a water resources program on an annual basis, based upon the comprehensive plan, that identifies specific projects and facilities to be undertaken by the Commission, other governmental and private entities, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, and individuals during the immediate 5-year period. The water resources program shall include a systematic presentation for each of the five sub-basins of—
the specific needs to be addressed by the water resources program;
the existing and proposed projects, studies, and facilities required to satisfy the identified needs;
the subset of projects and studies that will be undertaken by the Commission during such period; and
the budget for the identified projects and studies.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to repeal, modify, or limit the authority of—
the Federal Government or the State government members of the Commission to enact legislation or enforce any additional conditions or restrictions within their jurisdictions; and
local governments to regulate land use as provided for by law or regulation.
Authorization of appropriations
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Commission $500,000 for each fiscal year to carry out the duties of the Commission.
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Interior $25,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2020 to carry out projects consistent with the comprehensive plan that are identified in the annual Hudson-Mohawk Water Resources Program adopted by the Commission in accordance with section 6.