AIIS urges the US Congress for action on the pressing need to pass the ‘Water Resources Development Act’, with a particular focus on the provision that would require the full expenditure of funds collected under the Harbor Maintenance Fee for the purpose for which it has always been intended ie dredging and maintenance of blue and brown water ports.

AIIS applaud the attention that Congress and the Administration are putting on the nation’s infrastructure needs, and passing this Act would certainly be a major step forward.

John Foster, Chairman, AIIS said “AIIS is encouraged by the supportive, bi-partisan tone at Senator Boxer’s committee hearing about the full expenditure of HMF collections for dredging and the growing support in both the House and the Senate. We believe it is now time for Congress to act, as dredging had been underfunded for so long that over $7bn have built up in the HMF Trust Fund. The year-after-year underfunding of this critical task of the federal government has significant costs for our economy and it is time for the government to spend the money for the purpose for which it is collected.”

Every time a vessel’s draft is decreased by one foot due to inadequate dredging, shippers have to bear an additional $1M in additional shipping costs. In a recovering economy this type of unnecessary cost burden will negatively affect job creation and manufacturing productivity.

The Corps of Engineers stated that fully authorized channel dimensions are only available for less than 35% of the time at 59 of the highest-use harbours in the USA.

Reaching President Obama’s goal of doubling exports, for example, is made more difficult with a less competitive port system. Shippers pay this fee for dredging and maintenance and should expect to have it spent properly.