Norton Bill Making D.C. Eligible for Federal Flood Mitigation, Prevention Funds Passes in Committee

Jul 20, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today that the House Committee on Natural Resources passed her District of Columbia Flood Prevention Act as part of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2021. Norton’s bill would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA) to include the District of Columbia in the definition of a coastal state, making D.C. eligible for federal coastal zone management funding and granting it oversight authority over federally issued permits, facilities, and actions that affect the coastal waters of the District. Last Congress, Norton’s bill passed the House as part of the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act.

“I thank Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva for including my District of Columbia Flood Prevention Act in his Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2021,” Norton said. “My bill will help the District mitigate the impacts of climate change. Communities around the country are struggling with the effects of extreme weather events, including flooding. The District is located on two rivers and has suffered substantial coastal floods in the past, so it is critical that we be covered under the CZMA, just like states and territories.” Norton said she believes the District’s omission from the CZMA was an unintentional oversight, as the CZMA, which also includes the territories, passed before the District achieved home rule.

In an effort to reduce coastal flood risk, Congress passed the CZMA, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administers, to help states and territories respond to floods and mitigate risk through resiliency projects. Scientists have predicted that the tides on the Atlantic Coast could rise two to four feet by the year 2100, causing property worth as much as $7 billion in the District to be routinely under threat by floodwaters. Even though the District, including the federal complex, is under a serious threat from rising sea levels, D.C. is not eligible under the CZMA. 

Norton’s efforts to reduce flood risk in the District include securing special federal funding each year for DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project, which addresses combined sewer overflows, and securing funding to build a levee at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW to protect the National Mall and surrounding neighborhood from flooding.