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BrownWater News, October 2014

Oct 15, 2014 04:07 PM

Hours of three locks on Upper Mississippi to be reduced

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to reduce the hours of operation of three Mississippi River locks in Minneapolis, Minn. — Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls, and Lock and Dam 1.

The three locks currently operate 19 hours per day, seven days a week during the navigation season. That level of service follows the Corps’ guidance within the Inland Marine Transportation System (IMTS).

Section 2010 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 directs the Army secretary to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock and dam no later than one year after enactment of WRRDA.

With the expected closing of the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock, it’s anticipated the remaining two locks will have fewer than 500 commercial lockages per year, the Corps said. To meet IMTS guidance, it is proposed the remaining locks transition to one 10-hour shift per day, seven days a week during the 2015 navigation season and beyond. The navigation season on the Upper Mississippi River normally begins in March and wraps up by the end of November.

Comments on the proposal should be submitted by Oct. 22. For more information, contact Michael Kidby at (202) 761-0250.

AWO welcomes House ballast water legislation

The American Waterways Operators (AWO) hailed the introduction of vessel discharge legislation in the House on Sept. 18.

The bill (H.R. 5609), introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, would establish a nationally uniform and environmentally sound framework for the regulation of ballast water and other vessel discharges. The measure is a companion bill to S. 2094, which was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in July.

“H.R. 5609 (the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act) will replace the current dysfunctional regulatory system in which two federal agencies and more than two dozen states regulate vessel discharges in overlapping and sometimes contradictory ways with a uniform, science-based federal framework that is good for the environment, good for the economy and good for the taxpayer,” said AWO President and CEO Tom Allegretti.

Seven maritime projects among 72 new TIGER grants

The American Association of Port Authorities reports that seven maritime projects are among 72 that will share $584 million in awards to be distributed this fiscal year in the sixth round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

The maritime projects will be awarded a total of $74.2 million. Another $54.5 million comprising five awards, or 9 percent of the total funding, will go for rail freight projects. The maritime awards make up 13 percent of the total funding.

Among the top maritime awards, $20 million will be for the Terminal 46 modernization project at the Port of Seattle. Also announced was a $10.8 million TIGER grant for the rehabilitation of the Wando Welch Terminal in the Port of Charleston (S.C.) and $25 million to help fund replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Maine and New Hampshire.

Barge and towing industry remembers 9/11 victims

The barge and towing industry paused Sept. 11 to remember the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks 13 years ago and to acknowledge the bravery shown by first responders and many other citizens on that tragic day.

Tom Allegretti, president and CEO of the American Waterways Operators, said that one of the “most notable acts of valor” was the maritime evacuation of 500,000 people from Lower Manhattan, an island from which there was no other method of escape.

“Often, we take our American maritime industry for granted as it works in quiet anonymity to keep our country and our economy moving,” Allegretti said. “But, for those who are familiar with this proud industry, these acts of heroism came as no surprise.”

Barges among vessels to carry lifesaving devices

The U.S. Coast Guard has adopted a final rule that requires all uninspected commercial vessels, including barges and sailing vessels, to carry lifesaving devices even if they carry no passengers for hire. The regulation became effective Oct. 10.

The new rule aligns the Coast Guard’s regulations with the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act. Before 2010, certain uninspected commercial vessels, including barges and sailing vessels, fell outside the statutory scope of the Coast Guard’s regulation of lifesaving devices. The authorization act now requires all non-recreational uninspected vessels, regardless of type or mode of propulsion, to make an appropriate form of lifesaving device available for the individuals on board the vessel.

For details of the new rule, see the Federal Register of Sept. 10. For more information, contact Martin Jackson at (202) 372-1391.

Great Lakes pilotage rates to be adjusted

The Coast Guard has proposed rate adjustments for pilotage services on the Great Lakes. The proposed adjustments, the first since last March, would establish new base rates.

The Coast Guard also has proposed temporary surcharges to accelerate recoupment of necessary and reasonable training costs for the pilot associations.

Comments on the Coast Guard’s proposals, spelled out on 23 pages of the Sept. 4 Federal Register, must be submitted by Nov. 3.

The basis of the Coast Guard’s proposals was the Great Lakes Pilotage Act of 1960, which requires U.S.-flagged vessels operating in the foreign trades to use U.S. or Canadian registered pilots while transiting the U.S. waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes system.

Under provisions of the pilotage act, rates must be established or reviewed and adjusted each year no later than March 1. Base rates must be established by a full ratemaking at least once every five years. In years when base rates are not established, they must be reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted.

For more information, contact Todd Haviland at (202) 372-2037.

Bill keeps EPA, Corps from regulating more U.S. waters

Legislation to prevent the Obama administration from regulating waters under the Clean Water Act (CWA) was approved 262-152 on Sept. 9 by the House of Representatives.

“I am pleased that the House has acted in a bipartisan fashion to turn back a sweeping growth of government that threatens the successful federal-state partnership that’s been making our waterways cleaner for over 40 years,” said Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., sponsor of the bill.

Southerland said the measure (H.R. 5078) prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing a rule that “threatens to open many new waters and private property to federal regulation, including ditches, man-made ponds, floodplains, riparian areas and seasonally wet areas.”

The congressman said that the administration has sought to unilaterally “clarify” the scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA in a manner that would expand the government’s power.

Changing the scope of the CWA is solely the responsibility of Congress, Southerland said, “and Congress has determined this to be unnecessary.”

Seattle, Tacoma ports plan Seaport Alliance

The Seattle and Tacoma (Wash.) port commissions plan to unify the management of the two ports’ marine cargo terminals and related functions under a new Seaport Alliance. The purpose of the union is to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo for the region.

The alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions will retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets.

Subject to further Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) review and approval, the two port commissions will enter into an interlocal agreement (ILA), which is intended to provide the ports with a framework of due diligence to examine a series of business objectives. After the due-diligence period, the commissions will submit a more detailed agreement for the alliance to the FMC by the end of March 2015.

Commissioners from both ports will hold a public meeting next spring to hire John Wolfe, CEO of the Port of Tacoma, as CEO of the alliance.

The proposal will be open to public review throughout the due-diligence period. Information about the public meetings will be regularly updated on the Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle websites (www.portseattle.org and www.portoftacoma.com).

MarAd shows strong support for proposed Maine ATB

Officials of the Maine Port Authority, concerned that winter weather may be too rough for tugs pushing or pulling barges along parts of the marine highway in the Northeast, have taken steps to develop a cargo vessel designed specifically to handle that harsh marine environment.

Elaborating on that effort, Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen wrote in “Fast Lane,” the Department of Transportation’s official blog, that port officials had released a design for the first American containerized articulated tug-barge, or ATB, with funding from the Maritime Administration (MarAd).

“Unlike a tug and barge combination, an ATB is mechanically linked, combining the economics of tug and barge operations with the speed, maneuverability and heavy weather reliability of a ship,” Jaenichen said. “The vessel proposed by the Maine Port Authority would support the Northeast Marine Highway Expansion Project’s efforts to expand container-on-barge service between Newark, N.J.; Boston, Mass.; and Portland, Maine.

“Our strong support for development of this vessel is another in a long line of actions that prove this administration’s commitment to the future of marine transportation and to developing a truly multimodal freight system that increases capacity, supports economic growth and provides viable alternatives for shippers ... With continued support from this administration, and forward-thinking efforts like the work of the Maine Port Authority, I have no doubt that America’s Marine Highways will be in a position to keep America moving.”

WCI relocates offices from Virginia to D.C.

On Oct. 1, Waterways Council Inc. moved its offices across the Potomac River from Arlington, Va., to Washington, D.C. The WCI’s new address is 499 South Capitol St., SW, Suite 401, Washington, D.C. 20003.

For more telephone and email information, contact the WCI at (202) 765-2166.

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