The funding comes from $5.4 billion allocated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address the nation’s water resource investment needs. Approximately half of the funds will be used to catch up on more than $1 billion in backlogged operations and maintenance needs of critical navigation infrastructure.
Bruce Sanders, public affairs officer with the Corps of Engineers, said the frequency of harbor dredging varies.
“Certain harbors, depending on site conditions, we only go into once every two years, once every three or four years,” he said. “The really busy ones like Cleveland we go in every year.”
Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority, said the dredging is needed so larger boats can get through.
“Each year, there’s a lot of deposition that occurs in the river and a lot of material that gets deposited from the upper regions of Black River,” Novak said. “We have to take some out to allow some big boats to get up the river.”
“This investment will improve water quality and spur economic development in our communities,” Sutton said in a statement.
Approximately 150,000 cubic yards of material must be dredged from Lorain harbor every two years.
Some 80,000 cubic yards of material was removed from the harbor in 2008 and another 150,000 cubic yards will be removed by November when current dredging by Ryba Marine out of Michigan is completed, said Kathy Griffin, operations branch chief with the technical services division with the Corps of Engineers. Dredging for 2009 began in July and will finish in November, she said.
The weak economy reduced funding for dredging from mid-2005 through 2007, Griffin said, which is why Lorain Harbor was dredged in 2008, 2009 and will be again in 2010.
“We were struggling for quite some time … and not getting funds for dredging on the Great Lakes we needed,” Griffin said, adding that recent funding has allowed the Corps to “catch up on the dredging that needs to be done in the harbor.”
The money Sutton secured is for next year. It will be used to dredge the harbor again, and it will also be used to complete the design of a berm-raising project at the harbor where dredge material that can’t be relocated in Lake Erie will be deposited, Griffin said.
“The efforts of federal and local officials have made a significant financial impact on the continued viability of Lorain Harbor,” Griffin said.