Stutzman Amendment Passes, Could Save FW $25 Million

By Emma Koch - 21Alive
By Eric Dutkiewicz - 21Alive

Stutzman Amendment Passes, Could Save FW $25 Million

October 23, 2013 Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 8:11 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Congressman Marlin Stutzman introduced an amendment to the Water Resources and Development Act (WRRDA) Tuesday night that he says will save Fort Wayne $25 million by putting an Army Corps of Engineers' requirement to unnecessarily alter the city's levees on hold. The amendment passed Wednesday evening, 417-3.

“The Army Corps of Engineers issued a broad directive to remove vegetation from levees across the country. This was unfair to Fort Wayne taxpayers and put an unnecessary burden on the city." Stutzman said. "My legislation would save Fort Wayne taxpayers $25 million. This common sense amendment is good for Hoosiers and good for the city of Fort Wayne.”

Stutzman’s amendment provides that the Secretary of the Army shall not require the removal of levee vegetation until the Corps of Engineers’ policy guidelines on vegetation management for levees have been reviewed and adopted, with a common sense exception for vegetation that presents an unacceptable safety risk.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, D-Fort Wayne, applauded Congressman Stutzman’s efforts, and his amendment.

"The legislation that Congress has passed will help Fort Wayne protect our natural resources while ensuring our residents and visitors can continue to enjoy our rivers,” Henry said in a statement released Wednesday night. “The rivers and the riverbanks contribute a great deal to our exceptional quality of life and community pride.”

According to Stutzman, in 2010, the City of Fort Wayne was instructed by the Corps of Engineers that the city’s levees would need to be de-vegetated. This decision was made despite the fact that Fort Wayne’s levees were designed specifically to handle vegetation in order to enhance their strength and stability. The estimated cost of compliance would be $25 million.

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