Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) released the following statement after House passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) conference report:
“First and foremost, this bipartisan bill is good for jobs, good for harbor communities across the Great Lakes, and good for Michigan’s economy. For the first time, WRRDA includes language written by Candice Miller and me classifying the Great Lakes Navigation System as a unified body. This is an extremely important distinction because it puts the Great Lakes on equal footing with other water systems across the United States in terms of prioritizing future infrastructure projects. This new classification will improve harbor dredging across the Great Lakes, help shorten the dredging backlog for Michigan harbors, and further increase economic activity on the Great Lakes that supports approximately 130,000 jobs.
“It is currently estimated that 18 million cubic yards of sediment clogs ports and waterways throughout the Great Lakes. This has reduced the amount of cargo shipped by 500,000 tons over the course of the navigation season. To put this number into perspective, a standard dump truck holds around 15 cubic yards of material, so 18 million cubic yards of sediment would fill the equivalent of 1.2 million standard dump trucks. That number of dump trucks would span a distance greater than the distance between Muskegon, Michigan and Beijing, China.
“Today, just over 51% of the funds collected by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund actually go towards harbor maintenance. This federal mismanagement hurts harbor and port communities here in Michigan and throughout the region. Under this WRRDA reauthorization, the amount of funding being used for harbor maintenance will jump to 67% in the next fiscal year and will increase 3% annually until 2025 when 100% of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will truly be used for harbor maintenance. While this is a positive step forward, it is my hope that we can find a faster way to ensure monies collected in the trust fund go toward their intended use.”
Press Release, May 22, 2014