The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District will soon finish uploading deep-draft navigation channel data on its hydrographic surveys webpage and will begin posting the same data for shallow-draft channels it maintains along the Texas coast early next year.
“The Galveston District is tasked with monitoring and maintaining the federally-authorized waterways within coastal Texas,” said Christopher Frabotta, chief of the Navigation Branch at the USACE Galveston District. “In the current fiscal environment, the district is often not able to maintain these channels to their authorized depths or widths, therefore we need to have the ability to readily provide our navigation stakeholders the current channel conditions. This website allows us to convey data in a standardized, user-friendly format.”
According to Frabotta, maritime pilots and shippers can now access the channel depth data for several deep-draft channels along the Texas coast online and view hydrographic surveys at the click of a mouse. “This tool allows the channel users to load their cargo accordingly to obtain the most economic benefit per transit in the ship channel,” said Frabotta.
Staff began making this data available to the public in May 2014 using the Corps’ eHydro Navigation channel condition software to post hydrographic survey data for the channels within the Houston-Galveston-Texas City navigation complex.
“The survey maps you see online are the end product of the Corps’ enterprise eHydro software,” said Rob Thomas, USACE Galveston District’s Hydraulics and Hydrology-Water Management Branch chief. “The survey maps provide data including the most recent channel depths, channel boundaries, location of aids to navigation (buoys and markers), channel stationing as well as the latest aerial imagery. This tool allows us to provide consistent survey plots, channel tabulations and produce channel condition reports.”
According to Thomas, the software is designed to easily integrate into the district’s normal survey data processing workflow and reduces the time and costs required to produce similar reports. He added that the district showcased the online hydrographic surveys during the 2014 Dredging Meeting last month and received positive feedback from the navigation community.
The USACE Galveston District was established in 1880 as the first engineer district in Texas to oversee river and harbor improvements. The district is directly responsible for maintaining more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 270 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft as well as the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates.