Brownwater News, April 2020

AAPA notes COVID-19 concerns on Ports Day

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) held its Western Hemisphere Ports Day on April 5 “to acknowledge the sacrifice, professionalism and commitment of ports and their workforce to ensure the safe and efficient movement of cargo and necessities” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seaports are on the front lines, helping slow the spread of coronavirus while ensuring a steady flow of vital goods and services,” said AAPA President and CEO Chris Connor.

In a separate announcement, AAPA reported that it had elected Mario Cordero as its next chairman of the board. Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, Calif., will be installed as chairman on the final day of AAPA’s 2020 annual convention, scheduled in Quebec City on Sept. 13-16.

NWC hears reports on WRDA, Corps inspection changes

Recapping the 2020 Legislative Summit it held last month in Washington, D.C., the National Waterways Conference (NWC) reported that provisions in upcoming Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bills may have a big price tag and might not be implemented without additional appropriations.

Stacey Brown, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ chief of planning and policy, said her department is working with House and Senate committee staff to identify the provisions in question. The Corps is working to complete as many feasibility reports as possible before WRDA moves off its two-year authorization cycle after this Congress.

Following Brown, Phoebe Percell, chief of the Corps’ Dam and Safety Levee Branch, explained some “big changes” that were reported in a recent Corps engineering circular (EC). Percell said that dam and levee inspections are now every five years instead of every year, and there are no longer inspection ratings or minimal acceptable ratings.

“The Corps feels that this risk-based approach allows (it) to focus on the highest priorities,” Percell said. “However, the Corps wants to hear from non-federal sponsors on how the EC will impact them.”

EC hearings that had been scheduled for March and April have been postponed to June at the earliest. The comment deadline has been extended from April 27 until after the hearings are held.

In other news from the summit, Richard Balzano, deputy administrator of the Maritime Administration, announced that $225 million in grant funds is available for port infrastructure development. Applications are due at MarAd on May 18.

Another speaker, Ryan Fisher, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works), said his agency continues to work on how to best fund the inland waterways system. He added that there potentially will be a listening session on rulemaking efforts this summer as part of regional stakeholder meetings.

WCI moves annual meeting to Las Vegas

The Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) will hold its annual meeting and 17th annual Waterways Symposium on Nov. 11-13 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

Peter Stephaich, WCI chairman of the board, said the meeting was moved to Las Vegas from the usual inland waterways locations for several reasons, including the fact that WCI has held its annual meetings and symposiums “in just about every river city since its inception in 2003, and feedback from our members suggests it’s time for a change.”

Furthermore, he said, it is reported that attendance “increased 8 percent when meetings and conventions are held in Las Vegas. With approximately 150,000 rooms, Las Vegas offers the best group value proposition in the world.”

Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals has new app

Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals (IRPT) has launched a new smartphone app that will allow vital information regarding each of the nation’s basins to be accessed by mobile users.

IRPT said it will collect navigation information from U.S. Coast Guard sectors, Army Corps of Engineers districts, regional waterway associations, and Corps locks and dams maintenance operations, as well as emergency notifications.

To download the app, visit your smartphone’s app store and search “IRPT.”

For more information on how to proceed after downloading the app, contact Deb Calhoun at (202) 765-2166.

Seaway volumes down 6 percent last year from 2018

The St. Lawrence Seaway reports it handled 38.4 million metric tons of cargo in 2019, a decrease of 6 percent from 2018.

The total included 29 million tons of cargo moved through the Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the Seaway, 8 percent less than in 2018, and 28.6 million tons of cargo through the Welland Canal, down 5 percent from 2018. 

Great Lakes shipping opens 2020 season

The Great Lakes 2020 shipping season opened March 25 when the first “laker” transited the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

On April 5, mariners were advised that navigation conditions had been evaluated following the recent decrease in outflow from Lake Ontario, and were such that an assist tugboat was no longer necessary at Iroquois Lock. As of April 7, the tug was no longer available to aid ships with their approach to the lock.

By Professional Mariner Staff