Corps slashes Lakes dredging budget by 25%
Great Lakes Maritime Task Force said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposed fiscal year 2010 dredging budget slashes $32 million, or 25 percent, from what Congress approved in fiscal year 2009 for the Great Lakes.
“As a result, the amount of sediment that is clogging the system — estimated at 17 million cubic yards — will again start growing after only one year of being reduced,” the group said.
'It almost seems the Corps is intent on prolonging the Great Lakes dredging crisis,' said Donald Cree, president of the task force and national vice president of the Great Lakes for American Maritime Officers. 'The amount proposed for dredging will not even allow the Corps to reduce the backlog of sediment that is denying vessels the ability to carry full loads. Once again our Great Lakes delegation will have to increase the funding level or the dredging crisis will only get worse.'
The group also noted the budget does not include funds for construction of any project, including a second, large Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. It said the reduced funding comes on the heels of Corps decisions that all but zeroed out the Great Lakes from stimulus package funds.
The shortfall in dredging funds for fiscal year 2010 prompted the task force to repeat its call that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund spend the tax dollars it collects each year on cargo movement for the specified purpose: dredging.
'The HMTF has a surplus of nearly $5 billion,' said Pat O'Hern, vice president and general manager of Bay Shipbuilding Co. 'That surplus is tax dollars that were generated by cargo movement at the nation's deep-draft ports. Congress enacted that tax to pay for dredging, not paper balance the budget.'