Marine Link
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Enacting A National Dredging Policy: A Call To Action

Dredging of U.S. navigation channels and berths is fundamental to successful commerce. As ports and harbors fill with sediment, barriers to smooth ship access mount. This increases the probability of difficult passage, groundings, or required lightering. These problems can be alleviated by advanced planning and a predictable process for determining how, when, and where to dredge. This is self-evident, but tangential issues can cause a seemingly straightforward path to become a cor luted maze.

There are risks in delayed actiom^^Tie Oil Pollution Act of 1990 is frequentl^med for its insurance and double-hull retirements, but its overall purpose of preventi<{g damage to the environment from accidesrfre and oil spills is sometimes lost. Such environmental damages could result should the lack of clear navigation channels and berths put vessels at risk.

Instead of focusing on minimizing risks, by spending consumer dollars setting up fuel lightering schemes, spill response and readiness plans, and natural resource damage assessment policies, it is more logical to emplj^M^e' prevention. Even after a spill occuptf-tiatural resources damage assessment^eSn affect the impact of a spill in terms^fTost value to the public. Does it not^lfeen seem worthwhile to focus on preventk This is a f>trf€amental thesis of the Clinton Administration's National Dredging Policy and its ap&on plan for improving government's repfronsibilities in this regard. The policy is ?ased on four short statements of principle: The regulatory process must be timely, efficient and predictable; • Advanced dredged material management must be conducted on a regional basis by a partnership of federal, state and local governments, natural resource agencies, public interest groups, the maritime industry and private citizens; • Dredged material managers must become more involved in watershed planning in recognition of the contribuJieiWJfCpstream sources of pollution toJjariJSrsediment contamination; and Iredged material should be viewed as a resource, which can contribute to wetland creation, beach nourishment and other development projects.

The recognition of sources of pollution and their control and cleanup may be obvious to some, but it is critical to have these factors identified in a national policy. Now it is up to the federal agencies charged with implementing the National Dredging Policy to assure that economic and environmental issues receive balanced consideration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Corps of Engineers, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceans and Coastal Resources Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Maritime Administration have formed a National Dredging team and are in the process of setting up regional teams.

It is critical for the maritime industry to let local and regional agencies know how important timely dredging is to their local and regioncontrol between safe and efficient maritime traffic and the daily needs of community life has to be mack When beginning itsatefK with other federal agencii^m developing the National Dredging Policy, the Maritime Administration was faced with the sai I l l l i i i il iiiiil I ft i i 11 1111 111 i by Tgmore than 20 outreach "meetings, visiting ports and harbors throughout the country. As maritime, environmental and community members spoke to agency representatives, understanding of )ort iunctioning piloting was fostered. Elected officials — mayors, governors, city council members and state legislators — all can affect policies governing dredging of ports and harbors. The need to balance economic development an environmental protection undoubt- 11 be of major concern to themrNThese groups need to be educate i on today's intermodal transpo tation system and the critical role Glob; econom, point tc least fi the ye exports Increasi: will be nents nations and major distrib wide develo assd wifh 1 ports play in that system, lization of our nation's is irreversible. All signs significant increases (at e percent annually until 2000) in imports and o and from U.S. markets, gly, production of goods ulti-national, with compoanufactured in several nder least-cost conditions Imbled in locations close to rkets. At the same time, ;ion will increase worldthe growth of markets in ng countries. Efficient intermJdal transportation will be central/to the capability of businesses to survive in the global economic tommunity.

"Poilit-to-Point" logistical planning fnd "Just-in-Time" delivery s require an efficient transon infrastructure system to d. While the need for adehighway and rail access to is readily understood, dredgd waterside access is equally tant. This is why the nistration's dredging action calls for revisions to the odal Surface Transportation ency Act to ensure that the ing process outlined in this legislation provides for linkages witll plans which address dredging s.

addition to national and local :y support for "open" navigachannels, investment must be e on developing technologies to rmine where and how to dge as well as for disposal hods. Computer tools and ern marine engineering tech- [ogies can determine where sednt is accumulating relative to sel traffic, thus reducing the ume of material to be moved, p simulators assist in channel ign and real-time reporting of ter level measurements to maxize use of existing channel pths. This also can reduce needs. In addition, ontamination technologies for taminated sediment are being iewed. Larger scale experints will show how cost-effective tHese methods and technologies be in addressing problems, pririly in highly urbanized port as.

revention, planning, and techno\ ogical applications can support business goals of regular ging, assuring safe navigation, r, the Administration's re only a beginning. It is umbent upon the entire industry to focus the s of every community on ionship between timely syster portal! succef quatq ports ing i impc Adr plar Intef Effiq plar issv poll tio/ m detj dr<] m m i nol ve v s: di w; i d d a: th dreV Ho\ efforts now \nv marit: aware: the rel and adequate dredging and nomic well being.

Offshore Wind is the focus of this special April 2021 eMag edition from Maritime Reporter & Engineering News (MR), combining the resources of MR + sister-publications Marine News and Offshore Engineer
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