Casey Calls For Funding for Life-Saving Flood Forecasting System

Funding Could Help Support Efforts to Protect Residents from Future Flooding / In 2011, Flooding Caused Millions in Damage to Communities in NEPA

Casey Calls For Funding for Life-Saving Flood Forecasting System

Washington, DC- On the third anniversary of record flooding in NEPA, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on the Administration to include funding for life-saving flood forecasting systems in its upcoming Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) budget. Fully funding and implementing the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP) will create a sustainable network that will improve safety and help prevent future flood damage in the Susquehanna River Basin region, where average annual flood damages are nearly $150 million. According to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, every dollar invested by the federal government returns $20 through reduced flood damages and reduced payouts through the federal flood insurance program. 

“Funding these life-saving stream gauges will help residents along the Susquehanna River Basin prepare for extreme weather. During a storm even a few minutes can have a big impact. That advance warning can give Pennsylvanians extra time to leave their home or time to protect sections of their property that could be in danger,” Senator Casey said. “Investing in flood forecasting ultimately saves lives and money for residents. Flooding along the Susquehanna River Basin comes at an annual cost of $150 million. Investing in stream gauges now can help reduce those costs and protect property.”

“In these times of tight budgets and climate uncertainty, funding for stream gauges is perhaps the wisest and most cost effective investment the federal government can make,”said Andrew Dehoff, Executive Director of Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

The Susquehanna Flood Forecasting and Warning System consists of a network of stream and rain gauges that generate data which allows the National Weather Service to issue flood warnings that help keep Pennsylvania residents safe. Unfortunately, due to funding issues many stream gauges that are vital to the overall system are in danger of being closed. 

Below is the full text of Senator Casey’s letter:

Dear Director Donovan,

I write in support of increased funding for the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP) in the President’s FY 2016 budget. This funding is crucial to supporting the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System. The Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System was created to forecast river levels and represents the first line of defense from flooding for residents in the Susquehanna River Basin. When Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee hit in September 2011, they caused the worst flooding in Pennsylvania since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  In the aftermath of these historic storms, I visited several counties along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries and witnessed the devastation first hand. I am committed to helping these communities protect themselves from natural disasters. The Susquehanna Flood Forecasting and Warning system is vital to this effort and will help prevent injuries and property damage in the event of future flooding.

The Susquehanna Flood Forecasting System is made of a network of steam and rain gauges that generate data which allows the National Weather Service to issue flood warnings that help keep Pennsylvania residents safe. Unfortunately, due to funding issues many stream gauges that are vital to the overall system are in danger of being closed.  Increased funding for this program will allow the USGS to protect gauges that are in jeopardy of being closed, ensure that currently funded gauges are kept in operation and add new gauges to improve the system.   Providing sufficient funding for the NSIP represents a cost-effective investment for the federal government. I have been informed that for every dollar invested by the federal government, the system returns $20 through reduced flood damages and reduced payouts through the federal flood insurance program.  Additionally, fully funding and implementing NSIP will create a sustainable network that will improve safety and help prevent future flood damage. In the Susquehanna River Basin region, where average annual flood damages are nearly $150 million, this is a fiscally responsible investment we must make.

I appreciate the President’s commitment to helping communities recover from and protect against flooding. Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey Jr.

United States Senator

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