PIANC USA the International Navigation Association held its annual general meeting in Pittsburgh the week of July 13th. Known as the Three Rivers area Pittsburgh is at the confluence of the Ohio the Monongahela and the Allegheny Rivers.
Kelly Barnes and Ann Cann of the Institute for Water Resources (IWR) in Virginia organized the meeting which struck a good balance between professional networking technical presentations and a compelling site visit.
The meeting began on Wednesday July 15 with a welcome word from James McCarville executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission. The meeting honored several people who have made long-term contributions to PIANC-USA. PIANC USA President Maj. Gen. Bo Temple presented PIANC Fellow Awards to Thomas Ballentine former Secretary of the US Section of PIANC and presently U.S. representative on the PIANC History Commission; Harry Cook a former PIANC-USA commissioner and recently retired chief executive of the National Waterways Conference; Robert Engler of Moffatt & Nichol former Senior Scientist at USACE Waterways Experiment Station and chair of PIANC’s Envicom; and John Paul Woodley Jr. former Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and former chairman of PIANC’s U.S. Section. Maj. Gen. Temple is Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations USACE.
Edmond Russo was singled out for his work in getting the PIANC USA newsletter up and running digitally. He is chief of ERDC’s Coastal Engineering Branch Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. The newsletter is an essential means of communication for a group that is spread out over the entire country and overseas.
Varied Technical Topics
Technical reports included Inland Commission (InCom) Working Group 125’s report; a presentation on the “Wireless Waterway” – a project of the Port of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University; Navigation Infrastructure Data Updates from the Corps working with the University of Toledo; a report from the Committee on Marine Transportation Systems including funding from the ARRA; two reports from the Maritime Commission (Mar Com) on “Life Cycle Management of Port Structures” and “Minimizing Harbor Siltation”; and a summation of the 2009 U.S. DePaepe Willems Award-winning paper by its author Jon Henrikson.
The recently published report of PIANC EnviCom WG13 “Dredged Material as A Resource – Options and Constraints” was introduced; a representative from the Recreational Commission (RecCom) described “Alternative Materials in Marina Construction”; and a report from the National Waterways Foundation emphasized the “Environmental Advantages and Non-Traditional Beneficiaries of Waterway Transportation.”
A featured guest at the meeting was Carlos M. Gallegos Secretary of the Organization of American States-InterAmerican Committee on Ports (OAS-CIP). The OAS with 35 member states is in the forefront of supporting peace security democracy and social and economic development in the Americas. Ports and their development play a major role in this and he encouraged the audience to become involved in CIP’s Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) to promote the ports of the Americas and strengthen cooperation globally.
Off to Emsworth Locks and Dam
Under the watchful guidance of members of the Pittsburgh District employees led by District Commander Col. Michael Crall PIANC members traveled by boat up the Ohio River to the Emsworth Locks and Dam to view the ongoing repair works.
As Colonel Crall and several of his associates explained this work in the Ohio River Valley district will result in lock closures and drainage and consequent delays to navigation traffic during 2009 along the Monongahela Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. For that reason the maintenance schedule has been developed in cooperation with the Waterways Association of Pittsburgh and notices to navigation are issued in advance of work commencing.
Since it was built in 1938 Emsworth has been periodically upgraded but recent assessments indicated that the locks were in dire need of maintenance and repair.
In his 2008 State of the Infrastructure address Col. Crall referred to the Emsworth lock and dam as “the largest the oldest and arguably the most fatigued lock and dam inventory of any other Corps District” a warning he repeated several times during the PIANC meeting. He estimated that a failure at the Emsworth L&D could result in the loss of 11700 jobs.
While navigation at the lock is temporarily hindered the closure and dewatering of the main Emsworth Lock allowed conference participants to walk along the muddy bottom of the drained lock with unusual views of the repair activities.
At each point along the tour Corps employees explained the process what was being done and why and how some of the modern equipment such as Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) assist in the repair work. Noteworthy is how often the economics of the waterways the need for funding and for long-term planning was emphasized. The Corps is on all fronts tackling the waterways infrastructure situation from a socio-economic risk assessment perspective using a variety of financial models to estimate cost effectiveness and to prioritize operations.
The International Navigation Association (PIANC) is a worldwide organization of individuals corporations and national governments. Founded in 1885 in Brussels Belgium it is concerned with maritime ports and inland waterways. PIANC’s international headquarters are in Brussels Belgium at facilities provided by the Belgian Government. The headquarters of the United States Section are in the Washington DC area in offices provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.