Tell the Army Corps: Reject storm surge barriers, prioritize nature-based solutions

NY Harbor 2019
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to build 12 storm surge barriers – giant moveable gates – across the mouths of waterways such as Jamaica Bay, Newtown Creek, Flushing Creek and Gowanus Canal, as part of a $52 billion suite of large-scale construction projects to protect the New York-New Jersey region from coastal storm surges.

Federal investment in flood protection is sorely needed. But the Corps’ plan is too short-sighted, too limited in scope, and too damaging to the natural environment. We need to restore life to our rivers, not choke them off with gates.

The proposed gates would be supported by giant, permanent structures built into the water. These structures – even when the gates are open – threaten to reduce tidal flow, impede fish migration, and trap contaminants in waters already burdened by pollution and degradation. Designed to close only during rare storms, they would fail to protect against rising groundwaters, recurring tidal flooding, and precipitation-related flooding like what New York saw during Hurricane Ida.

We need the Army Corps to do better. Now is the time to take action to ensure that the waters of New York and New Jersey are healthy and life-sustaining, especially as we face the extremes of a changing climate.

Throughout New York City, an archipelago with a multitude of waterways and coastal habitats, there are opportunities to design berms and other shoreline measures that allow rivers to flow, provide public access to the water, incorporate green stormwater infrastructure and enhance natural habitat. The Army Corps must take a holistic approach that can protect neighborhoods from the full combination of storm surges, rainfall and sea level rise.

Join Riverkeeper and our partners in urging the Corps not to build storm surge barriers, and instead to pursue these better options. Help support federal investments that provide comprehensive flood protection and protect the life in our waters.

The public is invited to submit comments by March 31.


•    Read the sample letter (below) and edit it as you see fit. Note: Personalized letters are far more effective – even if you simply add an opening sentence. 

•    Complete the required fields and click “Send Message.”


  • Bryce Wisemiller, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District


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