U.S. President Obama signed legislation in early June that recognizes that the federal government needs to do more to address long-standing dredging issues, and improve boating and navigation infrastructure.
Among some shipping and cargo guidelines, the 2013 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to report to Congress on the maintenance needs of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and to consider factors beyond total tonnage shipped when making dredging funding decisions.
“Maintenance dredging for small harbors and shallow-draft channels has been chronically underfunded,” said David Kennedy, government affairs senior program coordinator for Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). “In addition, funding for infrastructure such as jetties and some inland navigation locks has been significantly curtailed.
Also, WRRDA for the first time treats the Great Lakes as a single navigation system, potentially allowing funding for dredging of smaller harbors. In addition, the US Army Corps is directed to study potential new revenue sources for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and are required to consult recreational users, among other stakeholders.
“Boat owners depend on federal waterway infrastructure projects to keep them safe and provide authorized waterways deep enough for us to navigate,” Kennedy said in a statement after the bill was signed. “With 12 million registered boats in the U.S. and over 80 million persons participating in boating, we also need to remember that boating generates $121 billion in U.S. economic activity and over 950,000 jobs.”