Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund identified as a possible source of assistance.
According to an annual report released by the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), the lack of dredging on the Great Lakes will be the focal point of attention for the Lake Carriers’ Association in 2013.
The LCA’s 2012 Annual Report stressed that inadequate dredging took a significant toll on Great Lakes shipping in 2012. “The drought has pushed water levels on Lake Michigan and Huron to record lows,” the Association notes. “The water level in the St. Mary’s River also declined as 2012 wore on; by year’s end ships were loading to less than 26 feet. In 1997, the last period of high water, ships routinely locked through the Soo drafting 28 feet or more. That loss of draft cost some ships more than 10,000 tons of cargo on their final voyages of 2012.”
To correct some of the problems with the lack of dredging activity, the LCA hailed the transportation bill passed in June 2012 that declared, “It is the sense of Congress that the Administration should request full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for operating and maintaining the navigation channels of the United States,” and that the amounts in the HMTF should be fully expended to operate and maintain ports and waterways.
The HMTF has a surplus of $7 billion because it typically spends only one of every two tax dollars it collects for dredging on dredging. It is estimated the 17 million cubic yards of sediment that clog the Great Lakes Navigation System could be removed for about $200 million, or just 2 percent of the HMTF surplus.
Legislation requiring the HMTF to spend what it takes in for dredging on dredging received broad support in the 112th Congress and LCA noted that most of the legislators who co-sponsored the House and Senate bills have returned to Washington in 2013, “so we begin the 113th Congress in our strongest position ever.”