This year due to low water levels throughout the region and past flood damages, the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (District) will spend approximately $6.84 million on port dredging in an attempt to keep ports in operation.
Dredging will be performed through contracted dredging at six ports along the Mississippi River. The $6.84 million in port dredging is only possible due to the funding recently received under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2012. These funds are part of the larger effort to repair and restore the Mississippi Rivers and Tributaries (MR&T) system from the damage that occurred during the historic flood of 2011.
The original fiscal year 2012 federal budget allocated $87,600 for port dredging which only allowed for limited surveys of these shallow draft ports.
Although the District will strive to keep the ports open, low-water conditions and the expenditure of funds for port dredging operations will increase the possibility of ports being closed due to low water levels.
The District continually works with the partners and stakeholders to monitor water levels and provide a navigable port channel for normal barge traffic. Due to these low-water levels, the Corps has changed the current dredging schedule in order to maintain navigation as long as possible.
The Dredge Butcher, operated by the Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Company, will engage in dredging at the ports and harbors being impacted by the low water stages.
The following locations will receive dredging on the date listed:
- Rosedale, Mississippi, Harbor estimated time of completion is 5 August 2012.
- Yellow Bend, Arkansas Port estimated time of completion is 11 August 2012.
- Greenville, Mississippi, Harbor estimated time of completion is 4 September 2012.
- Vicksburg, Mississippi, Harbor estimated time of completion is 30 September 2012.
The future of dredging in coming fiscal years is facing difficulties. The current fiscal year 2013 federal budget allocates $157,000 for dredging of shallow draft ports and harbors, which will only fund limited surveying. The Vicksburg District continues to communicate future funding requirements within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and strives to identify possible future funding sources.
Dredging Today Staff, July 11, 2012