Page 20: of Marine News Magazine (March 2013)

Shipyard Report: Construction & Repair

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things that we can do for the nation can be fully funded. Given that reality, it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are the best stewards possible of the Þ nancial re- sources we are entrusted with and to fully optimize what we do with those funds. Within our navigation business line, our overall funding has remained relatively steady over the past several years, but that means we can do a little less actual work every year when you factor in inß ation and the rising cost of doing business. There are certainly more needs for dredging projects on the inland waterways, at our ports and harbors and on the Great Lakes than there is funding available to meet those needs. This requires us to make very tough decisions every year on where to allocate our available resources to do this critical work, and we do so knowing that there are many other places with authorized projects that we will not be able to support. Of all the challenges facing inland waterway users today, the depth of water on the Mississippi River is arguably the biggest. Give us a SITREP on the current conditions, and when you think you might think users will get some relief. ItÕs important to remember that navigation on the Mis- sissippi is not the only thing that has been impacted by the extended drought across approximately 60% of the nation. This drought has affected communities, fresh water sup- plies, agriculture, livestock, water-dependent commerce and more. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers certainly under- stands the importance to the nationÕs economy of maintain- ing commercial navigation on the Mississippi River, and we have dedicated a lot of resources and efforts since last summer to doing everything we can within our existing authorities to keep the river open for commerce during this drought. We are completing a project to remove rock formations in the river near Thebes, Ill., that pose a threat to navigation dur- ing low water conditions. We continue to aggressively and proactively maintain the navigation channel, including ac- tions to accelerate dredging, construct structural measures, strategically manage water releases from upstream Missis- sippi River USACE reservoirs, perform routinely scheduled surveys, and closely collaborate with navigation industry us- ers and the Coast Guard on river conditions and navigation aids. The long-term solution for the Mississippi and other inland waterways is rain, and we need a lot of that to get us out of the current drought. The situation on the inland rivers is part manmade and in part, a product of Mother Nature. What can be done to help prevent or at least partly alleviate future situations?The bottom line solution to the drought for the Missis- sippi River and many of the nationÕs other critical inland waterways is rain and a lot of it. In the near term, within USACE, we are actively monitoring the availability of water within the river systems on a daily basis and managing proj- ect operations in accordance with long-standing plans that have been closely coordinated with state and local govern- ments, users and other agencies. These plans are designed to consider a wide range of operational scenarios from drought to ß ooding and are intended to ensure our projects continue to meet all of their congressionally authorized purposes like hydropower, water supply, recreation, navigation and the environment. In the long term, USACE will continue to participate in national, regional and local dialogues that look to the future of water-resources management in the United States. As a nation, we must work together to plan the fu- ture of fresh water resources management to ensure that it is available to meet our needs for quality of life, population shifts, health, the economy and the environment. Aside from the current issues on the Mississippi, what other project is the top priority of the USACE on the inland rivers today?While there are many high-priority needs on the inland waterways, our priority construction project is the Olm- sted Lock and Dam project on the Ohio River near Olmst- ed, Ill. The project includes twin 110-foot wide by 1,200- foot long lock chambers and dam with navigable pass. The Olmsted project will replace the outdated navigation locks and dams 52 and 53, both of which are beyond their designed project life and are becoming increasingly un- reliable. The projectÕs location is one of the most crucial points in the nationÕs navigation system Ð the hub of the inland waterways navigation system Ð and approximately 90 million tons of waterborne commerce passes through the area on an annual basis. What, if anything, is the USACE looking to change ? operationally, administrative, infrastructure ? in terms of how they do business in the near future? The USACE faces a signiÞ cant challenge in addressing the deteriorating state of the water resources infrastructure it owns, operates and manages. We have a number of dif- Þ cult decisions to make about the future of these assets with respect to what to recapitalize, what to repurpose and what is no longer serving any useful purpose and therefore should be divested. These decisions are made more complicated by INSIGHTS20 MNMarch 2013 MN March2013 Layout 18-31.indd 20MN March2013 Layout 18-31.indd 203/1/2013 11:13:15 AM3/1/2013 11:13:15 AM

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