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West Virginia’s capacity to withstand more extreme weather patterns as the climate crisis worsens is likely to increase if the U.S. Senate bipartisan infrastructure deal and $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package pass.

But they’re not the only budgetary boons for local flood resilience awaiting federal passage.

An annual Senate appropriations bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced last month would provide funding for measures geared toward reducing flooding along the Kanawha River.

One measure is a Kanawha River basin feasibility study authorized in 2016 that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District spokesman Brian Maka said would assess alternatives for flood risk management in communities throughout the basin, including tributaries, in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

Maka said in June that Congress had yet to appropriate funding for the feasibility study. The Senate appropriations bill would allot $500,000 toward the study Maka said would allow the Corps to execute a project partnership agreement with the state and begin the study.

The estimated cost of the study is $3 million and would be shared equally by the Corps and state, Maka said, adding the state has provided a letter of intent to provide the money, once the Corps receives its federal appropriation from Congress.

Passed in bipartisan fashion, the Senate appropriations measure is one of a string of spending bills that would fund the government for the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The time frame for final passage of the spending bill is unclear. If appropriations bills are not enacted by the beginning of the new fiscal year, Congress adopts continuing resolutions to continue funding, generally until regular bills become law.

All the Kanawha River-related climate resilience measures in the Senate appropriations bill were congressionally directed by either Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., or both.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper welcomed the proposed funding for the Kanawha River basin study, which was congressionally directed by both Manchin and Capito.

“Of course, once you get the study done, then the real herculean task starts of getting the funding to do what needs to be done,” Carper said.

The Senate appropriations bill would provide $4.78 million to stabilize the riverbank of the Kanawha River, in Charleston, along Route 60 at Manchin’s congressional direction, a third project within a larger effort that began in 2009. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already completed two projects — from Patrick Street to the Elk River, and from Haddad Riverfront Park to the 35th Street Bridge.

“The stabilization of riverbanks is always good,” Carper said.

The Senate appropriations measure includes $6.9 million for the Corps to support a roller gate replacement at the Winfield Locks and Dam on the Kanawha River, according to Capito’s office. Capito congressionally directed that proposed funding.

Both senators directed $546,000 that their offices said would fund the planning and design phase of Corps flood reduction recommendations for a drainage project to address frequent, severe flash flooding and drainage ditch flooding in downtown Wheeling along Elm Run. The plan will install new and improved culverts and wing walls, new debris racks and improved drainage settlement traps at Elm Run, according to Capito’s office.

Any funding for flooding mitigation will probably come in handy in West Virginia.

West Virginia was affected by 12 billion-dollar disaster events, 11 of them floods, that cost an estimated $110 billion from 2010 through 2020, according to NOAA data.

Heavy rainfall has become more frequent in West Virginia, where temperatures have warmed 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Climbing temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are likely to make floods and droughts more intense, according to the agency, with flooding becoming worse during winters and springs, and droughts parching the land more in summers and falls.

The Senate bipartisan infrastructure deal passed by the upper chamber last month would allot $47.2 billion for resiliency measures, including flood and drought mitigation, cybersecurity and weatherization.

Senate Democrats have aimed their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package at strengthening the social safety net through expanded Medicare, enhanced child care and housing support, protections for unions, and addressing the climate crisis. Top Senate Democratic priorities for the budget framework include a clean electricity program aimed at reducing power-sector carbon emissions 80% by 2030, and a civilian climate or conservation corps modeled after the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps in which workers would restore public waterways and lands while investing in sustainable agricultural practices.

But Manchin reiterated his opposition to Democrats moving forward with a $3.5 trillion price tag for their budget reconciliation package speaking to reporters at the United Mine Workers of America’s annual Labor Day celebration in Racine on Monday, citing concerns about the pandemic, inflation and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as reasons for his opposition to the budget package as currently proposed.

“We need to be prepared to meet all that,” the senator said. “You just can’t run yourself so thin as far as finances that you can’t meet your obligations.”

Mike Tony covers energy and the environment. He can be reached at

304-348-1236 or Follow @Mike__Tony on Twitter.

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