Senate bill would get shovels digging in Great LakesA $200 million backlog in Great Lakes dredging made worse by record low lake levels will get some help. A bill that passed the U.S. Senate last week would end that backlog.
By: Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A $200 million backlog in Great Lakes dredging made worse by record low lake levels will get some help. A bill that passed the U.S. Senate last week would end that backlog.
There is a lot at stake economically when ships have to load light, carry less cargo, or risk running aground in the Great Lakes. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says this bill will allow the Great Lakes to catch up on digging projects over the next six to seven years in harbors and channels. She says that puts the Great Lakes in better position to compete with ocean ports.
“It’s an uneven playing field and we have made some headway in refocusing some of the funding to the Great Lakes region,” Baldwin said.
Unlike small, secondary ports, the Great Lakes larger ports have been able to get the dredging they need. But Duluth Port Director Adolph Ojard says the St. Mary’s River, which connects Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes, needs work.
He says this is a double-whammy with record low lake levels. He says this bill fixes that.
“Boy, I think it’s significant. What it further recognizes is in these low water conditions those authorized depths would be reflective of lake levels,” Ojard said. “So we would hopefully return to historical drafts for our vessels even in some low water level conditions.”
Baldwin and Ojard are keeping their fingers crossed it makes it through the U.S. House.
The Water Resources Development Act also has money to prevent exotic species from entering the Great Lakes.