BrownWater News January 2011

Legislators urged to approve waterway projects

Amy W. Larson, president of the National Waterways Conference (NWC), urged Senate and House Republican leaders not to allow the GOP ban on “earmarks†in the 112th Congress to stop or delay “critical investments in projects that are essential to the nation’s economic vitality, environmental health and competitive position within the global economy.â€

Responding to the GOP’s decision to ban earmarks, Larson said in a letter that while NWC members “enthusiastically support†efforts to eliminate earmark abuses, “projects such as those undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation are different from other federal programs in several respects.†Among other things, Larson said, each project addresses a separate and discrete problem, and projects are individually considered, recommended by the administration and authorized by Congress.

Larson said that the inland waterways have “a critical share in supporting our nation’s international trade. Today, the cost of transporting freight over inland waterways is two to three times less than other modes of transportation, translating into an annual waving of $7 billion for American businesses.â€

Barge haulers of hazardous materials can now use IMSBC Code

A new rule that allows barge owners to use the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code as an equivalent form of compliance for all barges that carry solid hazardous materials in bulk on U.S. navigable waters became effective Jan. 1.

The American Waterways Operators said the rule, published by the U.S. Coast Guard, expands the list of solid hazardous materials authorized for bulk transportation by vessel and includes special handling procedures based on the IMSBC Code and existing special permits.

The Coast Guard initiated the rulemaking to address international requirements for the carriage of hazardous materials in international maritime commerce, including requirements that became effective Jan. 1. The rulemaking also is designed to alleviate the burden on the public and on the Coast Guard caused by the need to obtain and maintain special permits for the carriage of 30 solid cargoes not previously included in Coast Guard regulations.

The Coast Guard said it received only one public comment letter containing two comments generally supportive of the Coast Guard’s proposals.

For more information, contact Richard Bornhorst at (202) 372-1426.

Coast Guard revises average passenger weight allowed on vessels 

The U.S. Coast Guard has updated regulations governing the maximum weight and number of passengers that may safely be permitted aboard a vessel, including increasing the assumed average weight per person (AAWPP) to 185 pounds.

The Coast Guard said it determines the maximum number of persons permitted on a vessel by several factors, including an assumed average weight for each passenger, which the Coast Guard said was in need of an update because “the average American weighs significantly more than the assumed weight per person utilized in current regulations.â€

The AAWPP is currently 160 pounds, except that vessels operating exclusively on protected waters and carrying a mix of men, women and children may use an AAWPP of 140 pounds. The final rule, which includes vessel stability regulations, will become effective March 1, but the new AAWPP of 185 pounds will not become effective until Dec. 1.

The Coast Guard said the intent of the new regulation is to prevent passenger vessels from operating in overloaded conditions. Updating the weight rule, the Coast Guard said, will maintain intended safety levels by accounting for the weight increase among Americans.

The assumed weight of passengers is a component of stability calculations and, as such, directly impacts the resulting margin of safety, the Coast Guard said. The primary goal of the final rule is to restore the margin of safety inherent in the vessel stability requirements that has been eroded by increased passenger weight.

For more information, contact William Peters at (202) 372-1371. 

Mica named head of House transport committee

The House Republican Conference has confirmed Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.) to serve as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 112th Congress.

Selected by House Democrats to be the new ranking member of the committee was Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.). 

As chairman, Mica succeeded Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.). The change was a result of the November elections that elevated Republicans to the majority party in the House.

Mica, who had been ranking member of the committee, will be the first Florida congressman to be named chairman of the committee.

“The committee must pass stalled major surface transportation, aviation and water resources bills, and I will do so as soon as possible in a manner that protects the taxpayers and creates jobs,†Mica said. “It is critical that Congress jump-starts transportation projects to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and get people working.†

Corps gets more time to spend non-federal funds

A bill that would give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an additional six years, through 2016, to accept and expend funds from non-federal public sources to expedite the processing of permits has won final congressional approval.

The bill, H.R. 6184, was passed by the House on Dec. 1, 2010, and by the Senate on Dec. 7. The Corps’ authority to accept and spend non-federal funds would have expired Dec. 31.

President signs anti-Asian carp bill

President Obama has signed a bill prohibiting anyone from importing or shipping live Asian carp.

The American Waterways Operators says that the bill, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act (S. 1421), will have no impact on navigation or on the continued operation of the O’Brien and Chicago locks and the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The new law is intended to mitigate the opportunities for Asian carp to make its way from the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes.

MarAd, Corps of Engineers move ahead with Great Lakes studies

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) has scheduled three public meetings to gather data and comments for its U.S.-Flag Great Lakes Fleet Revitalization Study. The yearlong study will include reviewing investment options for the revitalization of the fleet, an overview of existing market conditions, and an inventory of the U.S-flag Great Lakes vessels and regional port infrastructure.

The study will be conducted by ABS Consulting of Houston and several partners under an $834,000 contract.

The meetings will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 15; Duluth, Minn., Feb. 23, and Chicago on Feb. 25.

MarAd also made known that it is providing $4 million to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species found in cargo ships plying the Great Lakes and America’s inland waterways. The funding is part of the administration’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative’s priorities for action — developed by a task force of 16 federal departments — are combating invasive species, cleaning up toxics, protecting wetlands from pollution and restoring wetland and habitats.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled seven more public scoping meetings for its Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

The first meeting was held Dec. 15, 2010, in Chicago and two others were held in Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland. Ahead are meetings on Jan. 20 in Minneapolis; Jan. 25, Green Bay, Wis.; Jan. 27, Traverse City, Mich.; Feb. 1, Cincinnati, Ohio; Feb. 3, Ypsilanti, Mich.; Feb. 8, Alton, Ill.; and Feb. 10, Vicksburg, Miss. Meetings also are planned for Milwaukee and New Orleans.

The Corps’ study will examine the options and technologies that could be applied to prevent aquatic nuisance species transfer between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through aquatic pathways. Public comments will be accepted until March 31.

For more information, contact David Wethington at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, 111 N. Canal, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60606

Navigation publications switched to electronic format

The American Waterways Operators reports that in a policy letter issued in November, the U.S. Coast Guard established guidance on the format for required navigation publications that must be aboard all U.S. vessels.

All U.S. vessels, including towing vessels, may now carry required navigation publications in an electronic format, rather than in a paper format, if the electronic format is readily accessible on the vessel by the vessel’s crew.

For more information, contact Patrick Lee at (202) 372-1135. 

AWO launches own Facebook page

The American Waterways Operators has launched its own Facebook page, which features industry news, pres releases, vessel photos, the Waterways Council Inc.’s “Keep America Moving†video ad, and a calendar of upcoming events.

AWO said one of the main goals of the Facebook page is to drive traffic to the AWO website for more in-depth information on the industry.

For questions about the new page, contact Anne Burns at

WCI sets 2011 meetings for February

Waterways Council Inc. has scheduled its 2011 Washington, D.C., meetings for next month at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The membership committee meeting is set for Feb. 15. Capitol Hill visits and the 2011 Leadership Service Award Reception and Dinner will be Feb. 16. The WCI Board of Directors meeting (members only) and the National Waterways Foundation Board of Trustees (trustees only) will be Feb. 17.

About the Author:

Carlo Salzano has been in journalism since graduating from La Salle University in 1948 as a chemistry major. That’s right, chemistry. He began his career as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer, before moving on to United Press International in Philadelphia, Charleston, West Virgina, Baltimore and Washington. After 14 years, Carlo joined Traffic World magazine and stayed on for 23 years, retiring as editor in 1990. A majority of Carlo’s time at Traffic World was spent covering the maritime community and he continued on in the maritime field while freelancing throughout his “retirement.” He is married and has three children and eight grandchildren.

By Professional Mariner Staff