BUFFALO, NY --
The Buffalo District is proud of its role in supporting commercial navigation for Ohio’s harbors. Operation and maintenance and dredging of Ohio harbors by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is critical to the economy of Ohio, the Great Lakes region, and the United States.
Over 35 million tons of commodities such as iron ore, grain, coal, sand, stone, potash, and salt pass through Ohio’s eight commercial harbors on an annual basis, supporting tens of thousands of jobs in Ohio and billions in business revenue each year. Without dredging, these harbors would naturally fill with sediment and bulk commodities would have to be moved via rail or truck, resulting in significant impacts to jobs, business revenue and the environment.
In 2021, the Buffalo District received about $19.2 million in federal funds to dredge all eight of Ohio’s commercial harbors (Toledo, Sandusky, Huron, Lorain, Cleveland, Fairport, and Conneaut, and Ashtabula), and dredging is on schedule to occur for all but three harbors. Sandusky, Fairport and Conneaut harbors currently do not have a placement site available which meets the State of Ohio’s 2020 law limiting open lake placement and will not be dredged in 2021.
In support of the State of Ohio’s goals for alternative placement of dredged materials, the Corps of Engineers and the State of Ohio have built a strong partnership. Leading up to Ohio’s 2020 law, the team has collaborated on beneficial use of dredged material projects in Cleveland and Ashtabula, as well as a pilot project in Toledo. State and local leadership for Sandusky, Fairport and Conneaut are pursuing similar projects, but they will not be ready for the 2021 dredging cycle. Once constructed, these placement sites have a targeted capacity to accommodate approximately two future dredging cycles. The Corps of Engineers will continue to coordinate with these State-funded, locally led projects to facilitate future dredging and address the long-term challenge posed by Ohio’s 2020 law.
The Corps of Engineers is committed to supporting the State’s effort to find beneficial uses of dredged material, within the limits of our authority and appropriations received; however non-federal funding and locally led solutions will be vital to continued dredging operations in all Ohio harbors given the restrictions presented by the Ohio 2020 law. State funded programs have been essential to the success experienced to date, and continued non-federal leadership will be needed to collaborate with the Corps of Engineers to fully embrace upland placement of dredged material.
The economic vitality of our Nation, public safety, and environmental stewardship are of the greatest importance to the Corps of Engineers. We are committed to working with the public and supporting all stakeholders to identify a long-term solution to ensure continued economic benefits generated from maintaining these important harbors and the support they provide to the entire Great Lakes Navigation System.
LTC Eli Adams
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District