Federal legislation that would require Congress to invest $1.6 billion into Great Lakes dredging and maintenance projects has been proposed.
The money should be taken from the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
$200 million worth of projects exists currently in the Great Lakes region. About 15 federal harbors and channels that are down to four feet of water or less need dredging.
The regional economic impact of commercial shipping is also in danger of falling.
Drops in lake levels have put the recreation-tourism industry at risk. Last year, Ohio was one of the top 10 places for recreational boating, generating $3.5 billion a year in revenue and supporting the equivalent of 26,000 full-time jobs.
According to ToledoBlade.com, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates that, if the dredging does not commence soon, 30 more shallow-draft Great Lakes harbors could become only four feet deep, or less.
Private marinas do not have these problems, they do the dredging and maintenance works on their own.
Money collected to pay for maintenance dredging at smaller federal harbors could meet these needs. The fund was meant for navigational purposes, and should be used only for such projects.
Dredging Today Staff, April 16, 2012;