Ongoing Dispute Over Cleveland Harbor Dredging Project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation mission is to provide safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems (channels, harbors and waterways) for the movement of commerce, national security needs, and recreation.
The Corps operates and maintains 140 navigation projects in the Great Lakes, including Cleveland Harbor.
USACE closely monitored channel conditions in the Cuyahoga River throughout the 2016 dredging season. The channel has had sufficient depths to maintain navigation. This allowed the Corps to appropriately time dredging in the channel and make the most efficient use of available navigation funds.
Recent channel surveys show that the Upper Reach of the Cuyahoga River is experiencing shoaling that could be alleviated by dredging.
Based on sampling and data analysis, the Corps determined that the dredged material from the Upper Reach is safe for placement in Lake Erie. The State of Ohio has refused to agree to allow this disposal option and has requested a more expensive disposal option, involving placement of the material in a confined disposal facility on the banks of the lake.
The Corps will not place dredged material from the Upper Reach of the Cuyahoga Channel into Lake Erie over the State of Ohio’s objections; however, the State has also refused to pay the difference between placing the material in Lake Erie and the more expensive disposal option they prefer.
The Corps’ efforts to get the State of Ohio to fund the difference in cost is in accordance with federal regulation, consistent with how the Corps conducts its dredging activities nationwide and is vitally important to preserve sufficient funding to meet the Nation’s navigation needs.
This matter is subject to an ongoing dispute in federal court between the State of Ohio, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and the Corps over who should bear the additional costs of the disposal of dredged material.
After repeated efforts by the Corps to obtain a voluntary agreement among the parties, the Corps has told the court that the Corps is willing to voluntarily agree to award the contract to dredge the disputed Upper Reach of Cleveland Harbor and will advance the funds needed to dispose of the sediment in a confined disposal facility, provided that there is adequate assurance that the Corps will be reimbursed if it is ultimately successful on the merits of this case.