S.B. 220 Links Dredging Grants to “Clean Marinas” (USA)

Advocates of “clean marinas” testified before the General Assembly’s Commerce Committee Tuesday, urging support for a bill that would allow marinas that follow anti-pollution protocols to apply for grants that could pay 40 percent of dredging costs.

“Long Island Sound provides more than $9 billion to the regional economy every year,Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, said in a statement.

Healthy water quality is key to human health, tourism and fishing industries,” but “the Sound remains plagued by non-point source pollution,” she said.

As things now stand, federal funding helps ensure maintenance dredging of public channels, ports, and harbors. But funding is inconsistent, insufficient, and not generally applicable to smaller private marinas, advocates say.

The proposed bill, S.B. 220, would link a dredging grant program to the state’s Clean Marinas Program, encouraging marinas to engage in best management practices that help restore Long Island Sound while making dredging feasible for more marinas.

Periodic dredging is required to keep slips and channels open for commercial and recreational boating. It also keeps marinas open and profitable and creates jobs in the dredging, engineering, and planning sectors.

State Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, also testified.

“This bill represents a common-sense strategy designed to open up small harbors, create more maritime jobs in Connecticut and help marinas grow their business while also safely disposing of paints, cleaning products, oils, fuels and other pollutants that flow into Long Island Sound,” Reed said in a statement.

“This bill represents just one of many ideas, large and small, that are being shared in the Bi-State Caucus we’ve created with our New York colleagues,” said Reed, who co-chairs that caucus. “We have been meeting on both sides of Long Island Sound to explore new ways to effectively protect our beloved natural resource while pursuing economic vibrancy and energy independence for our region.”

Grant Westerson, president of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, also testified before the Commerce Committee.

This bill validates the past 10 years of close cooperation between the marine trades industry and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as together they developed the Clean Marina Program in Connecticut,” Westerson said in a statement.

“Standards were raised, processes changed, and best management practices developed to ensure that the environment always came first,” he said. “Passage of S.B. 220 will create jobs, not only in newly dredged and renewed facilities but within the dredging community as well.

A “clean marina” is “known for its attention to details and care for its surroundings,” Westerson said. “This initiative will help push a facility just that much further to increase waterfront access and navigation safety.”

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Dredging Today Staff, March 1, 2012

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