Brownwater News, June 2018

Corps' new work plan goes beyond Olmsted; House approves WRDA

The Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) reports that the fiscal year 2018 work plan released June 11 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocates $399 million for construction from the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The council said the construction total represents full use of revenue into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

Included among six construction projects are Olmsted Locks and Dam, $175 million; Kentucky Lock, $39.5 million; Lower Monongahela Locks and Dams 2, 3 and 4, $98 million; Chickamauga Lock, $76.5 million; and LaGrange Lock and Dam, $10 million.

The FY 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill passed by the House on June 8 includes $7.28 billion for the Corps’ Civil Works program, up $451 million over FY 2018. The bill includes $2.3 billion for construction and $3.8 billion for operations and maintenance.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 that passed the House on June 6 does not contain a user fee or public-private partnership (P3) tolling proposal strongly opposed by the WCI. Recommendations favoring a user fee or a P3 proposal had been included in President Trump’s FY 2019 budget.

As of June 13, no floor time had been scheduled in the Senate for the companion measure known as America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

Supporters of WRDA 2018 include Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), who said that House passage “continues the trend of streamlining maritime infrastructure improvements by expediting evaluations, enabling timely decisions and providing greater funding flexibilities, as well as authorizing new projecting.”

Nagle said that the AAPA will continue working with the House and Senate to ensure that all federal harbor maintenance taxes collected are “fully spent each year so there’s continued availability and competitiveness of our nation’s harbors."

Great Lakes pilotage rates rising 12.7 percent for 2018

The Coast Guard has announced details of a final rule that modifies the service’s ratemaking methodology and establishes new pilotage rates for 2018. The modifications consist of a new compensation benchmark and revisions to annually adjusted figures, such as inflation rates and traffic volumes, organization changes and clarifications.

The rule sets a 12.7 percent increase in 2018 pilotage rates, which range from $600 per pilot hour to $653. The 2017 rates ranged from $514 to $601. The rule impacts 49 pilots, seven applicant pilots, three pilot associations and the owners and operators of about 215 oceangoing vessels that transit the Great Lakes annually. The estimated annual regulatory economic impact of the rate change is a net increase of $2.8 million in payments made by shippers from the 2017 shipping season.

The Great Lakes Pilotage Act of 1960 requires that base rates be established or reviewed and adjusted each year by March 1. The act also requires that base rates be established by a full ratemaking at least once every five years.

The American Great Lakes Ports Association said the 2018 adjustment is the fourth double-digit cost increase in a row.

Coast Guard proposes rule change for ballast water management

The U.S. Coast Guard proposes to amend its regulations on ballast water management by eliminating the requirement for vessels operating within a single Captain of the Port Zone to submit an annual ballast water summary report for this year. The Coast Guard views the requirement as unnecessary to analyze and understand ballast water management practices.

The Coast Guard said the proposal also would serve to reduce the administrative burden on regulated vessels equipped with ballast tanks. Comments on the proposal should be received by the Coast Guard by July 9. For more information, contact John Morris at (202) 372-1402.

Shipbuilders Council of America names new leaders

The Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) announced new leadership and a new safety award during the group's annual spring meeting in May in Washington, D.C. Terry O’Brien, vice president of Austal of Mobile, Ala., will take over SCA as chairman and president, and CEO Ben Bordelon of Bollinger Shipyards will serve as vice chairman.

SCA President Matthew Paxton announced in his remarks that a new safety award will be given to yards that have zero recorded fatalities for the year, and a total recordable incident rate of 1.0 or below.

“A key pillar of the shipbuilding and repair industry is safety,” Paxton said. The new award, Significant Safety Achievement, will be added to the other two safety awards given annually: Excellence in Safety and Improvement in Safety.

Navigation safety council seeks new members

The Coast Guard has invited interested parties to apply for membership on the Navigation Safety Advisory Council. Completed applications should be submitted to the Coast Guard by July 18.

The Coast Guard will be considering applications for seven positions that will be vacant Nov. 1 in the following categories: commercial vessel owners and operators, and professional mariners. For more information, contact George Detweiler at (202) 372-1566.

Seaway cargo volume drops to 7.9 million tons in May

The St. Lawrence Seaway reports that it handled 7.9 million metric tons of cargo in May, compared with 8.2 million tons in the same month last year. Grain accounted for 2.2 million tons, up from 2 million tons in May 2017. The second-largest commodity was dry bulk with 1.9 million tons this year, down from 2.3 million tons in May 2017.

New members sought for Missouri River recovery panel

The Northwestern Division of the Army Corps of Engineers has invited interested parties to apply for vacant stakeholder representative positions on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee. The committee was formed to advise the Corps on a study of the river and its tributaries, and to provide guidance to the Corps with respect to river recovery and mitigation activities currently underway.

Completed applications must be received by the Corps by July 27. For additional information about the study and the purpose of the committee, contact Lisa Rabbe at (816) 389-3837.

By Professional Mariner Staff