USA: Hickman Harbor Dredging About to Begin
Severe drought along the Mississippi River basin has brought about a complete shutdown of the Hickman Harbor in May this year, further heightening the utter need for dredging.
A team of the Army Corps of Engineers has arrived to the spot and is ready to launch around the clock dredging operations of the harbor, which hasn’t been dredged for three years. The team will stay in the harbor for 17 days before it moves on to the next location, WPSD-TV reports. It is estimated that in three week time the harbor will be functioning in its full capacity.
The Corps were supposed to arrive in the harbor in June, nevertheless, other priorities came first so they were redirected to Memphis. The Corps are battling with their own shortage of funding, causing delays in their work. As a result, alternative financing has to be found and paradoxically the Hickman Harbor dredging project, worth $2 million, is being funded by a flooding relief grant.
As stated by the Captain Ed Floyd, lowering of the water level at the mouth of the Hickman Harbor to five- six feet of depth has disabled safe river transport operation.
Apparently, lack of funding for maintenance dredging has inflicted considerable losses since barges were unable to come into the harbor. According to Greg Curlin, executive director of Riverport Hickman, Fulton County, the losses are worth millions of dollars, since somewhere between 150 or 200 barges would have been loaded and unloaded up to this point.
The problem is present in the entire region, where annual maintenance dredging is pivotal in order to find a permanent solution and prevent accumulation of sediment from blocking the way.
“All the harbors in this area are having trouble with this,” Curlin said. “It’s not just Hickman Harbor. All of them are having trouble with the dredging or the lack of dredging.”
Dredging Today Staff, July 24, 2012; Image: usace