The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has officially released their distribution plan for the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) Work Plan amount, click here to review the complete details. The Work Plan amount to supplement the Corps Mississippi Valley New Orleans (MVN) Operations and Maintenance budget is $15 million. The Work Plan amount is the difference between the total in the President’s Budget Request and the amount appropriated by Congress, the amount appropriate by Congress is historically higher. The Corps Work Plan amount for FY 2018 is $425 million.

Recently, the MVN detailed that although it has received some supplemental funding that it will need more to properly respond to the Crossings Above New Orleans. The President’s Budget request of $83.846 million is being supplemented by $40 million from the Bi-partisan Budget Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-123) raising the total of Fiscal Year 2018 funding to $123.85 million for Mississippi River Ship Channel maintenance.

The MVN FY 2018 Budget details are listed in the table below:

President’s Budget Request $83.846 million
Public Law 115-123 $40 million
FY 2018 Work Plan $15 million
FY 2018 TOTAL BUDGETED (To Date) $138.846 million

The MVN has recently recovered the majority of the channel in the area of Southwest Pass which allowed the Pilot Associations to increase their maximum draft recommendation to the normal maximum draft of 47 feet. The Corps reports concerns about the ability to maintain the full channel dimensions on the Crossings Above New Orleans as the focus shifts upriver from Southwest Pass. The details listed as the justification by the USACE for the amount of the FY 2018 Budget are reproduced in the next paragraph:

“Funds are being used for maintenance dredging to partial channel dimensions from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico (Southwest Pass, New Orleans Harbor, Crossings between Baton Rouge and New Orleans), channel surveys, salt water barrier sill, rock protection, jetty repairs, water management, environment, and real estate. This Funds are being used only provide partial channel dimensions, restricting transit of deep- draft commercial vessels through the largest US port complex.”

The Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) was at reduced channel dimensions from May 19, 2018 to June 9, 2018 due to a variety of factors most notably high river stages (high sediment impact) and insufficient funding. The additional funding received from the FY 2018 Work Plan ($15 million) is intended to be used to restore the critical channel feature at the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA) at the Head of Passes. However, without additional funding the MVN will most likely have to use these funds to respond to the Crossings Above New Orleans.

“FY 2018 Additional Funding Justification:
Funds will be used for the Head of Passes Disposal Area maintenance.”

The Big River Coalition will continues to monitor the potential funding limitations with the MVN and members of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation. The supplemental $15 million as received in the FY 2018 Work Plan will be utilized to assist in recovering the Mississippi River Ship Channel and the balance of funding will most likely not be sufficient to perform the intend dredging in the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area.