WNY Outdoors Blog

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Potential Emergency Funding for Dredging!

This is from an E-mail I got from Tim Bromund of the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association, LOTSA.

Can you please get this message out to our members and encourage them to take the suggested action so that we don't get to a point next Summer where we can't get our boats to the Lake. Thanks.

From: Nancy May
Please take just 5 minutes NOW and call your Senators requesting they co-sign the attached letter by Michigan Senator Levin. Call your 2 Senators and ask them to co-sign this letter TODAY!
Note: So far only Senators Stabenow (Mi) and Franken (Mn) have co-signed!!!
Thank you for this support.
Chuck May, Chair Pro Tem
Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition
(231) 889-5607

(Also from Bill Hilts and  Karen Sanacore.)

December 14, 2012

 The Honorable Thad Cochran, Vice Chairman

Senate Committee on Appropriations

S-128, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, Chairman

The Honorable Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

186 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear  Vice Chairman Cochran, Chairman Feinstein, and Ranking Member Alexander:

On December 10, the President sent a letter to Congress requesting $60.4 billion for response, recovery and mitigation related to Hurricane Sandy damage.  As you respond to this request, we urge you to also include funding to address another natural disaster in the Great Lakes region. 

Continued lack of rain and snowfall in the Great Lakes basin has resulted in water levels at historic lows.  The low water levels are affecting municipal and domestic water use, ecosystems, hydropower operations, and shoreline protection and erosion.  The most direct impact of these low water levels is on our shipping and boating activities.  Low water levels have required freighters to light-load, causing shippers to lose millions of dollars of shipments and hampering our economic competitiveness.  Vessels have gotten stuck in navigation channels and some harbors have closed or are threatened with closure.  During storms and heavy weather, it is critical for channels to be navigable for boats to reach safe harbor; low water levels threaten these “harbors of refuge,” putting lives in jeopardy.

To address the navigation problem, dredging of Great Lakes channels and harbors is needed.  Unfortunately, budget requests and appropriations have not reflected the needs of the Great Lakes navigation system, leading to a backlog of over 18 million cubic yards of sediment, which would require about $200 million to address.  The historically low water levels in the Great Lakes have greatly exacerbated these needs, and yet budget requests and appropriations have been flat and have not been responsive to the increased dredging needs in the face of water levels at their lowest in nearly half a century.  This situation is simply unacceptable.  On top of the dredging backlog, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates that $30 million is needed in additional dredging funding just to restore basic functionality to the system in response to the low water levels.  We would greatly appreciate you including $30 million in the supplemental appropriations bill as a starting point to address the dredging crisis in the Great Lakes that has been greatly worsened by the Midwest drought and historic low water levels. 

The Great Lakes navigational system is comprised of 139 federal harbors and waterways and is vital to the strength of our economy.  The system supports 129,000 U.S. jobs, contributes $18 billion to the economy, provides $2.7 billion in tax revenues, and saves the country $3.6 billion compared to alternative transportation modes.  Addressing the increased operational needs of this system is of critical importance. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


 cc: The Honorable Harry Reid, The Majority Leader, United States Senate

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