Proceedings Of The Marine

SUM 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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Page 25 of 70

23 Summer 2015 Proceedings Modernizing an Aging Waterways Infrastructure The startling number of locks and dams that are in need of rehabilitation or replacement poses a major threat to the future of maritime commerce. Of the locks and dams that form the foundation of the inland waterways system, 57 percent have exceeded their design life, according to the National Waterways Foundation. Similarly, the increasing number of channels and harbors in need of dredging presents signifcant obstacles to safe and effcient navigation. A study prepared for the Inland Water- ways Users Board, a federal advisory committee to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, estimates that on average, Ameri- can shippers save $21.50 per ton moving cargo by water; overall, water transportation saves shippers (American con- sumers and the U.S. economy) $12.5 billion annually. 4 When vessels must light-load, or reduce the amount of cargo they are capable of carrying because of a silted-in channel, vessel operators lose effciency and economies of scale, and their shipper customers must pay more to move the same amount of cargo. Healthy federal investment in dredging not only yields a substantially greater return, but it also safeguards the country from severe economic damage. Strong political leadership is essential to ensure the health of our nation's waterways infrastructure. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the frst such bill to be enacted into law in several years, was an essential frst step, demonstrating strong, bipartisan Congressional support for provisions to prioritize infrastructure projects across the waterways system and reform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project management and delivery processes. However, continuing federal leadership is needed. U.S. ves- sel owners and the shippers who rely on them need annual appropriations that give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suffcient funding to keep pace with the needs of an aging system. The barge and towing industry does its part; through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, barge opera- tors shoulder 50 percent of the cost of construction and major rehabilitation projects on the inland waterways. 5 Additionally, industry will soon be making an even larger contribution. Members of AWO and the Waterways Coun- cil, Inc., successfully pushed for legislation last year that increased the inland waterways diesel fuel user fee by 45 percent as of April 2015. Industry Leadership Industry leadership will also be essential in meeting the demands and seizing the opportunities of the 21 st century marine transportation system. This is a responsibility that industry has already stepped up to shoulder. As increased domestic production of crude oil increases demand for waterborne transportation of energy cargoes, domestic vessel operators have invested billions of dollars in state- of-the-art vessels to meet their customers' and the nation's transportation needs. Dozens of fuel-effcient tankers and articulated tug-barge units are being built in U.S. shipyards, which will add approximately 7.6 million barrels of new liquid cargo carrying capacity to the domestic feet. Record investment in and construction of inland tank barges will bring an additional 8.2 million barrels of capacity on line. 6 This is investment in the future of the U.S. marine transpor- tation system. Similarly, the domestic maritime industry has demonstrated a continued willingness to lead in safety and environmen- tal stewardship. The AWO Responsible Carrier Program, a safety management system for tugboat, towboat, and barge companies established in 1994, has been a condition of AWO membership since 2000. A 2012 Coast Guard report to Con- gress cited the program as one of several private sector and Safety and stewardship frst: Over the past 20 years, the amount of oil spilled by tank barges each year has dramatically declined. Courtesy of CG-INV for the U.S. Coast Guard/American Waterways Operators Safety Partnership. Into the future: A vessel pushes tank barges under the Harbor Bridge and out of the Port of Corpus Christi. Courtesy of Higman Marine Services.

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