REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – Budget constraints, climate change and environmental responsibilities will continue to impact the Corps’ ability to meet the maritime industry’s constantly changing needs and capabilities, Maj. Gen. John Peabody told attendees at the winter meeting of the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference held here Jan. 16.
Peabody, the Corps’ Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, covered a variety of topics while speaking to dredging industry representatives, environmental organizations and government agencies, and he left attendees with a central message: “Work with us. Talk to us.”
Increasing the size of the Panama Canal locks will have a significant effect on the nation’s shipping industry, but the impacts will be felt primarily on the East Coast, since West Coast ports have direct access to Asia. The general cautioned that other issues, particularly funding and the ability to maintain critical infrastructure, will require collaboration, innovation and efficiency to ensure that nation can continue to meet those responsibilities.
“Our legacy is of our own making,” Peabody said. “What is ours going to be for our children and our grandchildren?”
The conference included panels on water quality standards, pollutants and sea level rise, along with presentations on recent environmental developments along the Pacific Coast and on trends in value engineering.
Deanie Kennedy, a biological sciences environmental manager for South Pacific Division, said that since enactment of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, “There has been a resurgence of many threatened species, including the California least tern, the brown pelican and the blue whale.”
She said funding issues and environmental windows often compress dredging schedules, but that the environmental requirements remain. That led to a discussion that meaningful improvement will require consistent, dependable appropriations.
“Industry will respond when there is a safe, clean funding stream,” an attendee remarked.
Mo Chang, chief of the Navigation Section for the Corps’ Los Angeles District, with a presentation on value engineering study and recommendations that can improve a project’s functionality or its cost effectiveness.
South Pacific Division’s three districts maintain 33 ports and harbors in California, from massive industrial complexes to smaller recreational havens. Chang said there are opportunities to mitigate the impacts that decreased funding has on dredging schedules and the quantities of material removed.
From an initial list of 84 alternatives, the study team eliminated some and combined others to suggest 17 for consideration when developing navigation dredging contracts.
Among the final list of alternatives were the recommendations to extend dredging contracts to be multi-year contracts that cover multiple dredge projects, re-evaluate the definition of beneficial use to allow more in-bay placement of dredge material, increase the use of regional planning for dredging needs and contracts capabilities across the West Coast, and create multi-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contracts for environmental services that support dredging projects.
“These can be implemented without changes in the day to day operations,” Chang said.