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Pacific Chapter Meets in Napa

The WEDA Pacific Chapter met November 5 through 7 in Napa, California. A Corps of Engineers/Industry meeting was held on Wednesday, November 5 to discuss the fiscal year 1998 dredging program for the Alaska, Portland, Seattle, Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco Districts.



Jake Redlinger presented the schedule, explaining that downsizing had reduced a team of four in the Division dredging section to one person.*



Mike Piszker, chapter president, welcomed attendees and introduced Larry Patella, Western Dredging Association (WEDA) executive director. Patella spoke briefly on the status of the organization membership, progress on planning for the World Dredging Congress, and the safety committee he is organizing.



“The WEDA Environmental Commission was begun to open the doors of communication with the environmental community,” he said. “We need to do the same thing in safety. Accidents cost millions of dollars and needless loss of life,” he said.



I talked to the safety guru at the Corps but couldn’t generate any interest,” he continued. “OSHA sounded interested, but hasn’t shown up at the meetings,” he said. He asked that anyone wanting to serve on this committee contact him.



Col. Richard Thompson, San Francisco District Engineer, described the District’s 900 miles of saltwater coastline, where 16 million cubic yards of dredging have been performed in 1997, the vast majority by private contractors. The District is working to deepen the federal channel to 42 feet, he said.



San Francisco District has 900 miles of saltwater coastline, and did 16 million cubic yards of dredging this year, the vast majority by private contractors.



Oakland is doing an EIS and feasibility study themselves, said Col. Thompson, and hope for a permit in 1998. This would include 20 million cubic yards of material and would be one of the largest projects the Corps has seen. The District hopes for a depth of +50 feet in all channels in San Francisco eventually, he said. Disposal is a problem, and they are seeking beneficial use of the material. Wetlands creation is taking three million cubic yards of material. The Sonoma Baylands project restored 260 acres of wetlands, in conjunction with the Port of Oakland deepening project, he said. The Port received national awards and personal recognition from Vice President Al Gore for the wetlands projects.



Mark Sickles, executive director of Washington D.C.-based Dredging Contractors of America, updated members on the budget, legislation, the minimum government dredge fleet, small business setaside program, funding for shore protection and the threat to the Jones Act.



“We have great hopes that this (the new minimum fleet) will produce the best partnership we’ve ever had with the Corps,” he said.



The Jones Act is still a popular bi-partisan law, he said. The repeal act has 15 sponsors in the House of Representatives, with 248 co-sponsors supporting the Jones Act. The Senate repeal bill has five co-sponsors, he said. “The law is strong,” said Sickles. “All your investment is based on current law.”



The technical program, “Dredging Dollars and Sense,” focused on saving money in preparation for and carrying out of dredging projects. Eleven presenters discussed projects with emphasis on economy and how improved methods saved money. Each presenter was given a bottle of wine from a local winery.



At the chapter meeting Mike Piszker announced that John Foxworthy would not be able to continue as program chairman, and David Robinson was appointed to take his place. Other officers are Leonard Juhnke, treasurer; Paul Godsil, vice president, and Tom Wang, secretary.



A vote was taken on the location for the next meeting, and the group favored the Pacific Northwest, preferably a resort area, with a dredging site nearby. The location will be announced in May or June, 1998. The group toured several wineries following the technical presentations.


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