Trade media in the United States reports an industrial concern over the lack of federal advisory for inland waterways.
By Michael McGrady, Maritime Direct Americas & Pacific Correspondent
WASHINGTON — WorkBoat reported earlier this week that industry members are concerned over the Inland Waterways Users Board’s dissolution under the Institute for Water Resources at the US Army Corps of Engineers. This happened in February and resulted from a major reorganization in the Department of Defense, led by new Pentagon leadership found in recently vested Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. For reference, Austin was confirmed on Jan. 22 and entered his position immediately, with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Reportedly, Secretary Austin dissolved all 42 DOD advisory boards to generate a new approach to mission and relevance for each board. The Inland Waterways Users Board was one of those boards. Note, during the tenure of former President Donald Trump, several boards were also gutted standing members and placed Trump loyalists to oversee these boards with posh salaries for some.
“America’s inland waterways system is the best in the world, but is not without its challenges, as international competitors continue to improve their systems and facilities,” said Mary Ann Bucci, the executive director for the Port of Pittsburgh, in recent testimony before the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment during a hearing on the Biden’s administration implementation of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. “More than half of the locks and dams on the U.S. inland waterways are past their 50-year design life, with most locks and dams built in the 1930s under President Roosevelt.”
“Our locks and dams, and our ports, require attention and financial recapitalization for dredging and channel and harbor improvements to maintain reliability and sustain our Nation’s economic well-being and standard of living,” Bucci said. “That attention starts with reinstating the IWUB.”