Joint release from USACE and the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District.
Calcasieu River ship channel receives $103 million for operation and maintenance
NEW ORLEANS – As a result of the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District received $103 million for operation and maintenance work on the Calcasieu River channel.
“The Calcasieu River ship channel, serving nearly 50 companies operating in the Port of Lake Charles, is one of Nation’s most important deep-draft waterways,” said Col. Michael Clancy, commander of the New Orleans District. “These greatly-appreciated funds will allow us to repair the channel’s infrastructure and maintain authorized dimensions necessary for continued safe and reliable navigation.”
Approximately $26 million of the funding will be used to dredge the shipping channel to its authorized dimensions to promote safe passage for the tankers and other vessels while $10 million will be applied toward maintenance of the project’s Dredge Material Placement Facilities (disposal sites). Ensuring these facilities are capable of safely handling sediment removed from the channel is a critical element in the Corps’ ability to undertake future dredging operations. Normal maintenance of these sites, such as draining them and repairing the drainage system, has been deferred because funds to do so were not available.
The remaining funds will be used to undertake a variety of rock projects, including construction of protection dikes on Calcasieu Lake and repairs to existing protection dikes along the channel to protect the disposal sites from wave erosion as well as to prevent the disposal sites from failing into either the lake or the channel. Additionally, the Corps of Engineers will repair the entrance rock jetties located at the bar channel in the Gulf of Mexico. These jetties help protect large vessels from cross-currents as they enter the Calcasieu River from the Gulf of Mexico.
The funding received from the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act will address much needed operation and maintenance dredging and repairs along the channel. Additional work not included in the supplemental funding will still be required to secure the channel’s future reliability. This additional work includes addressing an existing shortage in sediment disposal capacity by rebuilding the 21 disposal sites located along the 36-mile channel from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Charles. Funding for this work must be obtained through separate construction- designated funding and requires a 25% cost share from the non-Federal sponsor – the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District (LCHTD) acting on behalf of the state of Louisiana.
“We are extremely pleased and thankful for the supplemental funding for the channel,” said Bill Rase, Executive Director of the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District. “It will be used by the Corps for some much needed maintenance of the channel and the disposal areas. However, the funds can’t be spent on rebuilding the disposal sites so we will continue to look for long term funding solutions for the local cost share of adding capacity to the disposal sites and the real estate needed for the sites.”
The Project Partnership Agreement between the Corps of Engineers and its non-federal sponsor requires that the LCH&TD obtain, at its cost, the long-term easements for the disposal sites as well as cost-share 25% of the cost to rebuild the disposal sites. Currently, the Corps has enough Construction funds available to rebuild one site and partially rebuild a second disposal site.
The Calcasieu Ship Channel is a critical component of the local and national economy. Each year, approximately 56 million tons of cargo, including nearly eight percent of the Nation’s daily oil consumption is transported along the channel. The channel is home to the Nation’s sixth largest refinery and two of the Nation’s largest liquefied natural gas facilities. Approximately one-third of the U.S.’s strategic petroleum reserve is stored in the area serviced by the channel. The Corps and LCH&TD will continue to work closely to ensure the current and future reliability of this vital waterway.