Page 33: of Marine News Magazine (March 2013)

Shipyard Report: Construction & Repair

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an undeniable impact on our industry and nation. Many channels are presently undergoing efforts to be deepened to 50 feet. The President?s Task Force on Ports has an- nounced plans to expedite several port deepening projects and I cannot think of a more important channel than the world?s economic superhighway (Mississippi River). The Mississippi River channel was approved for deepen- ing to 55 feet in 1986, but at in the same Water Resources Development Act (WRDA Bill) another section established that all channels deeper than 45 feet would be deepened and maintained with 50% funding from the federal gov- ernment and 50% from the non-federal sponsor. Because of this overwhelming requirement, the channel was never deepened. In the last year the Big River Coalition has be- gun working on a compromise to see the channel deepened to 50 feet, a compromise that we hope will allow the chan- nel to be maintained at 50 feet and to develop marsh recy- cling to help protect our coast. At the same time, advocacy efforts continue from BRC to educate Congress and the administration on the importance on this trade artery and the positive impact on the 31 states it connects to world markets through the Mississippi River Basin. There is no doubt that in the next few decades the chan- nel and water management will become increasingly im- portant for freshwater supplies and trade. As an example, world governments could work to make desalinization affordable and promote this technology. As sea levels rise and glaciers melt, you can argue about the causes, but the future of a civilization that could economically and ef -ciently convert sea water to fresh water would arguably es- tablish its future in the ever-changing world in which we live. This is of course a long-term goal while deepening the Mississippi River to 50 feet could be done in months. In some quarters, realignment of the Mississippi River channel or delta so that the riverine system would be more naturally able to promote marsh restoration has been pro- posed. Whether this is a practical matter is far from cer- tain, but it will remain important that navigation interests are embedded with these teams if the concept is brought forward. Changes to this channel have unintended conse- quences and the threat to the nation?s economy makes this effort one that warrants extreme scrutiny to protect the $120 billion annual impact generated by this channel. Los- ing the Mississippi River for ship traf c would be a blow to the U.S. economy that it may never recover from and it is important to remember that waterborne commerce is the cheapest, safest and most environmentally friendly mode of transportation. MN 33MN March2013 Layout 32-49.indd 33MN March2013 Layout 32-49.indd 333/4/2013 3:16:19 PM3/4/2013 3:16:19 PM

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