Keeping Maryland’s ports and waterways navigable

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen yesterday announced the Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (S. 4136) including key priorities he worked to secure in the legislation for Maryland.

For Maryland, the bill includes key resources to ensure the shipping channels and other waterways remain clear and accessible for navigation, support local water infrastructure projects, and fund Chesapeake Bay watershed environmental restoration, among others.

“Investing in our water infrastructure – from keeping Maryland’s ports and waterways navigable to protecting access to clean water – is critical to the health of Maryland’s citizens and economy,” said Van Hollen.

Senator Van Hollen fought to include provisions within this legislation to:

  • Require the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize the dredging of shallower waterways 

In total, Maryland has 62 “shallow draft channels,” which are waterways no deeper than 16 feet that connect to a bay or ocean.

As of January 2022, of the top 16 priority shallow draft channels in Maryland there are 10 that have not been dredged in over 10 years – six were last dredged in the 1980s and 1990s.

Many of these channels serve small marinas in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

Senator Van Hollen secured language requiring the Army Corps to develop new ranking criteria within 180 days of the bill’s enactment to ensure smaller waterways are not overlooked for dredging.

  • Advance environmental justice by focusing resources on clean water and climate resilience projects in underserved communities

Senator Van Hollen fought for provisions that give the Army Corps increased capacity to provide solutions to pervasive environmental injustices that plague the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

Specifically, the bill authorizes the Army Corps to carry out projects for the protection and restoration of coastal shorelines and riverbanks at a reduced local cost share of 10 percent from 50 percent for projects that benefit economically disadvantaged communities; and encourages the Corps to recruit new workers from underserved communities.

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Photo: Senator Van Hollen facebook