Brownwater News, November 2018

Trump signs WRDA to fund water infrastructure improvements

President Trump in late October signed into law the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, designed to provide for investment in harbor, waterway, flood protection and other related infrastructure improvements across the nation.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said this “critical legislation” (S. 3021) authorizes projects developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the nation’s ports, harbors and waterways.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., chairman of the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, said WRDA 2018 would deliver solutions “so that communities actually benefit from enhanced flood protection instead of having to endure decades of studies and inaction.”

Graves added that under the new law, permitting “starts to make sense and we stop paying for redundant studies that only delay projects. With transparency and accountability, we’re shifting the focus away from pushing paper and putting it where it belongs: on turning dirt and getting the work done.”

The legislation “builds on the work we have begun in previous (WRDAs) at focusing the Corps of Engineers on water supply in arid regions,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., ranking member of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.

AAPA supports repeal of FAST multimodal cap

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) voiced strong support last month for a bill that would enhance the nation’s freight systems by making key investments in various transportation industries, including ports, water carriers and intermodal hubs.

The bill (S. 3587), introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., specifically targets freight and highway projects within the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO, said his association supports Carper’s initiative that repeals “the multimodal cap” on the grant program created by FAST.

Of the $11 billion of freight funding provided in the FAST Act, Nagle said, only $1.13 billion is multimodal eligible. Of that amount, only $200 million is eligible for multimodal freight grants for port recipients.

“Sustainable multimodal funding is a top AAPA priority,” he said.

Merchant Marine Academy details ‘strategic plan’

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., has adopted a five-year “strategic plan” that calls for a “mission to educate and graduate leaders of exemplary character.”

Under the plan that extends through 2023, leaders would be inspired to “serve the national security, marine transportation and economic needs of the United States as licensed merchant marine officers and commissioned officers of the armed forces.”

The first of six priorities spelled out in the plan puts forth an “enriching and relevant” educational program for midshipmen that focuses on “excellence in curriculum and delivery through seamless collaboration across academic, regimental, curricular and extracurricular academy functions.”

Other priorities address institutional culture; infrastructure; governance, leadership and administration; communications and relationships; and athletics.

Among the goals is an educational program that “fulfills the mission of the academy and provides the foundation for life-long professional growth for graduates.” Another goal is “a culture of continuous assessment and improvement in educational effectiveness and midshipman development.”

New AWO panel discusses top barge safety issues

The American Waterways Operators (AWO) reports that its new Tankering/Barge Operations Subcommittee met early in October to discuss top safety issues identified by its membership. Representatives from several member companies also analyzed recently collected data on liquid cargo transfers and incidents involving vessel/dock access.

The subcommittee, which has been meeting via conference call in recent months, was established in 2017 to identify safety issues affecting liquid tankermen and their dry cargo counterparts, and to develop solutions.

Some of the issues faced by tankermen include facility access problems, barge access safety hazards, implementation of tank barge emissions best practices, and heat stress and fatigue.

Buono named new superintendent of Kings Point

Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby on Nov. 2 announced the appointment of Jack Buono as the new superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y.

A graduate of the academy, Buono served most recently as president and CEO of ExxonMobil’s shipping subsidiary, SeaRiver Maritime Inc. Buono retired in 2016 after 38 years with ExxonMobil and SeaRiver.

Buzby said that Buono, who took command of the academy on Nov. 9, is “the ideal candidate” to head USMMA.

“He has impeccable credentials on the waterfront and, as an alumnus, fully understands the academy’s mission to provide its students with the highest caliber of training and education needed to lead afloat and ashore,” Buzby said.

Inland Waterways Users Board to meet Nov. 29

The next meeting of the Inland Waterways Users Board will be held Nov. 29 in the Hilton Hotel at Two Convention Center Plaza, St. Charles, Mo.

On the preceding day, the Army Corps of Engineers will lead a visit to the LaGrange Lock and Dam project site at mile marker 80.2 of the Illinois Waterway. Consolidated closures are planned on the waterway for the summer of 2020 to accommodate work at six sites.

Information notebooks will be sent out no later than the week of Nov. 19. For more information, contact Mark Pointon at (703) 428-6438 or Ken Lichtman at (703) 428-8083.

Corps issues guidance for project alteration requests

The Army Corps of Engineers has issued Engineer Circular 1165-2-220, which provides guidance for processing requests for altering Corps projects.

The draft version of the circular was made available for public comment in February. The final circular became effective Sept. 10.

For details on how to process alteration requests, contact Tammy Conforti at (202) 761-4649.

By Professional Mariner Staff