Ports, Corps Of Enginoors Plan To Improvo Partnership
Senior representatives from U.S. public port authorities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed on an action plan to strengthen their partnership.
The group identified future priorities, as well as ongoing activities that will contribute to a better working relationship between the ports and Corps.
During a meeting in April in Alexandria, Va., more than 30 senior port and Corps of Engineers representatives discussed ways to enhance communication and mutual understanding, according to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
The meeting was a culmination of six regional workshops and one sub-regional workshop held over the past year between ports and representatives of the Corps. AAPA President Erik Stromberg said, "The Action Plan will enable the ports and Corps to work together on specific objectives to keep our navigation channels dredged and open for trade, consistent with environmental objectives." The group agreed to address the following priority issues in the Action Plan: • Revise testing protocols for dredged material to eliminate outdated testing requirements, assure reliability of tests and reflect risks to human health and the environment. • Establish a high level forum to review policy issues, address conflicts and resolve project disputes.
• Improve federal, state and local coordination, including more frequent regional meetings between the ports and Corps and other agencies; and establish a common agenda and outreach programs.
• Establish more predictability in the planning and construction of deep-draft channel navigation projects, including disposal of dredged material.
Specifically, it was agreed to move forward with the final revisions to navigation project cooperation agreements and to work to achieve a "powering-down" of the decisionmaking process, i.e., moving decisions down to the district and local level from the national level. • Support establishment of a national dredging policy which: recognizes waterways as an important part of the national intermodal transportation system; identifies the expanded appropriate federal role in funding construction of confined disposal facilities; and considers the full range of benefits resulting from dredging projects.
AAPA members are calling on Congress to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) and to pass a 1994 reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), to address the dredging problems ports around the country face to keep their navigation channels open for trade.