In November 2015 the Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul Aucoin participated in a Congressional rountable before the House Committee on Transportation and Infra-structure. At the request of Congressman Garret Graves the meeting was held in New Orleans at the Louisiana State Supreme Court and the discussion focused on “The Importance of Port Waterway Flood Control & Ecosystem Restoration Improvements to the Nation’s Economy: Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).” The roundtable high-lighted for the committee current issues facing Southeast Louisiana and the need to include them in the 2016 WRDA bill.
Aucoin who appeared on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) stressed the importance of maintaining and constructing the nation’s maritime infrastructure in the face on insufficient federal funding. To add to the problem the Mississippi River is experiencing high flows and sediment loads which is increasing maintenance dredging needs. Vessels transporting goods to and from the Port of South Louisiana have had to navigate with channel depth and width restrictions from March through August of this year.
“Full use of the WRRDA’s Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues would provide the estimated $70 million per year needed to fully maintain the main river channel and perform dredging of South Pass and other navigation work that has been deferred annually since 2007” Aucoin said. “This channel improvement will enable ports along the Mississippi River to accommodate the global trend of larger ships thus keeping us world-class.”
Aucoin also stressed the River Region’s dire need of flood protection levees and flood control and the importance of coastal restoration in the protection of not only the ecosystem but also of life and property during severe weather events.
Following the meeting committee members received a first-hand look at the target area through a flyover of Southeast Louisiana.
Other roundtable panelists included: Kyle Graham Executive Director Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Natalie Robottom St. John the Baptist Parish President Bob Turner Regional Director Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East; on behalf of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies Amy Larson President National Waterways Conference Matt Woodruff Director Public & Government Affairs Kirby Corporation; on behalf of Waterways Council Inc. and Michael Hecht President and CEO Greater New Orleans Inc.