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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Protecting Chicago from Urban Flooding

Sep 28, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), spoke on the House Floor to propose an amendment to H.R. 5303, Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) regarding the McCook Reservoir Project.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.

Mr. Chairman, 

Residents and businesses in Chicago are vulnerable to significant urban flooding that has the potential to cost millions of dollars and endanger the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. 

To address this problem, Congress authorized the Chicagoland Underflow Plan as a flood risk management project in the Water Resources Development Act of 1988.

A key component of the plan is the construction of the McCook reservoir, a major flood damage reduction reservoir.

This benefits the city of Chicago and 36 suburbs by aiding flood mitigation and helps protect thousands of structures and millions of people. 

According to the Army Corps 2015 fact sheet to Congress, the reservoir is already 65 percent complete and would offer significant benefits to Chicago residents and business owners.

It is also among the Army Corps most economical projects, boasting a 3 to 1 Benefit to Cost ratio. 

The second phase of the construction of McCook has a 9 to 1 Benefit to Cost ratio.

Since its authorization in the late 1980s the Congressional intent of this project has been clear, 

it is for flood risk management and is constructed to help alleviate flooding problems in the Metropolitan area of Chicago. 

However, the Army Corps of Engineers omitted funding for the critical second stage of this project in their FY 17 budget due to the mistaken belief that stage 2 is related to water pollution control, which is not handled by the Corp.

It is in fact for flood control, and is fully authorized and documented in the Corps’ system as such. 

That’s why my amendment would ensure that the Army Corps continues to view McCook as flood damage reduction system, consistent with legislative intent, and expedites the completion of this vital public work.

After many years of strong support for one of the Corp’s most competitive flood protection projects, now is not the time to abandon funding for McCook.

The livelihood of too many families and businesses are at stake.

Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.

One minute to close:

I’d like to thank Chairman Shuster for his support.

Again, I want to clarify that the McCook Reservoir is in fact for flood control and fully authorized and documented in the Corps system as such.  

It is inconceivable to me how such a top tier, 

fully authorized flood protection project, 

which is 65 percent complete and in active federal construction, 

has a 3 to 1 Benefit Cost Ratio, 

and benefits Chicago and 36 suburbs, including 1.5 million structures and 5 million people, 

can be dropped from the Army Corp’s work plan. 

My amendment would simply fix this mistake by requiring the Army Corp to continue its work on Stage 2 of the McCook Reservoir project, and I urge my colleagues to support.

Thank you and I yield back the remainder of my time.