USA: Officials Expect From Government to Fund Saginaw River Dredging

Missing out on federal funds for dredging of the Saginaw River would have a serious impact on the river’s condition for shipping within two years, said the chief of operations for the Detroit District Army Corps of Engineers.

Wayne Schloop said a nearly $4.2 million chunk of federal funds U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, D-Flint, secured on Sunday for the dredging is essential for projects slated for 2011.

“Without the dredging, we’d see serious impacts on navigation and subsequently, fairly serious light-loading,” Schloop said, referring to ships having to carry lighter loads.

The funding is earmarked as part of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which passed the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee on Sunday. The full House and Senate must still approve the bill before it is signed into law.

Tentative dredging for 2011 includes a section of the Saginaw Bay and “critical sections” of the river, Schloop said.

Condition surveys this fall will reveal where these critical sections are, though Schloop said the Sixth Street turning basin in Saginaw County is likely one of them.

Losing out on the funds would not have an immediate impact, but would eventually create problems with the river, said Saginaw County Public Works Commissioner James A. Koski.

“The river’s in decent condition now, but we’d be seeing some serious problems within two or three years if we weren’t able to dredge,” Koski said.

Sections of the Saginaw River are being dredged this year.

A lack of funding would hamstring the 2011 dredging schedule, which would have a ripple effect that would eventually affect the volume of goods ships could transport through the area.

Schloop said that with nearly five million tons transported annually, the Saginaw port is very important.

“It’s imperative to keep the channel at proper depth to keep it cost effective. Otherwise, we’re looking at ships having to light-load,” he said.

By Alex Kohut (mlive)


Source: mlive, July 24, 2010;