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Funding to study breakwater moves ahead in Washington

Published 6/26/2009 on Press-Telegram

Long-awaited and essential funding that
would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to consider reconfiguring the
Long Beach Breakwater has moved forward in Washington, officials said
Friday.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water
approved a bill this week that includes $100,000 for the Army Corps to
review the city of Long Beach's reconnaissance study of the breakwater,
said Tom Modica, the city's manager of government affairs.




"This is a critical first step," Modica said.

The
reconnaissance study will determine if there is a federal interest in
changing or removing part of the breakwater, which is an eight-mile sea
wall off of Long Beach's coast. The study is expected to be completed
this summer.

Beach, surfing and tourism advocates say the wall should be
removed or modified to improve coastal water flow, increase wave size
and reduce water pollution. Homeowners along the coastline say the
breakwater protects their property from storms and high water.

If the Army Corps determines there is a federal interest in
reconfiguring the breakwater, further reviews, studies and approvals
would be needed before any changes could be made.

The $100,000 funding still must be approved by the full
House Appropriations Committee, as well as by a counterpart committee
in the Senate, and then approved by both bodies of Congress.

"There's a long way to go, but it's good news," Modica said.

Congresswoman



Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach, has been working to push the funding through Congress.

"This
$100,000 allocation for the Army Corps's reconnaissance report is one
of the most vital allocations this region will receive and it is
particularly vital in these economic times to ensure an objective
evaluation is made so that all resident, business and government issues
and concerns are considered," Richardson said in a statement Friday.

Fourth District City Councilman Patrick O'Donnell, who has
been the most vocal advocate for altering the breakwater on the
council, gave Richardson credit for her efforts.

"Long Beach owes a thank you to Congresswoman Laura
Richardson," O'Donnell said. "This has been an issue that not everyone
wanted to push."

Previous attempts to get federal funding for the reconnaissance study have been denied.

Last
year, the council took the rare step of funding its own breakwater
study for $100,000 without federal support. If the Army Corps chooses
to review the study, officials hope to get half of the money back from
the California Coastal Conservancy.

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