The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues maintenance dredging efforts on the Crossings Above New Orleans. The USACE previously completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel Deepening (MRSC) to 50 Feet. The areas of the Ship Channel that required dredging to provide the deeper draft channel were mechanically deepened up to Smoke Bend at Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP). The USACE is dredging full channel dimensions on the Crossings, depths are location specific but authorized channel widths are 500 feet. The maximum draft recommendation on the Ship Channel was increased to 50 feet (freshwater) from the Huey P. Long Bridge (Mile 106 AHP) to the jetty end of Southwest Pass (Mile 20 Below Head of Passes [BHP]) on July 20, 2022. The maximum draft north of the Huey P. Long remains 49 feet to Mile 175 AHP, the channel above Mile 175 AHP is expected to be mechanically deepened in Phases 3-5 (estimated) by 2025.
Weeks Marine constructed the saltwater barrier (sill) across the bottom of the Mississippi River Ship Channel at Mile 63.8 AHP. Weeks Marine successfully built the sill with the cutterhead dredge J.S. CHATRY from October 11 to October 22 (2022) to an elevation ranging between 55 feet and 51 feet. The USACE confirmed that the saltwater sill continues to effectively reduce the migration of the saltwater wedge upriver. The precipitation across the Mississippi River Basin has produced higher river stages that help to repel the saltwater wedge from moving inland. The USACE will continue to monitor the situation but does not expect to have to build the sill any higher at this time, subject to changed based upon river stages and salinity measurements.
DUSTPAN DREDGES WORKING ON THE CROSSINGS ABOVE NEW ORLEANS:
WALLACE McGEORGE: The industry dustpan dredge WALLACE McGEORGE completed dredging on the shallow-draft project at Wilkerson Point (Mile 234.5 AHP) this morning. The dustpan resumed dredging full channel dimensions on the MRSC at Baton Rouge Front (Mile 231.5 AHP) earlier today. The WALLACE McGEORGE commenced dredging on the Crossings on May 10, 2022.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE WORKING IN THE NEW ORLEANS HARBOR:
MIKE HOOKS: The industry cutterhead dredge is working in the New Orleans Harbor near the Julia Street Cruise Terminal.
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE WORKING IN THE HOPPER DREDGE DISPOSAL AREA:
E.W. ELLEFSEN: The industry cutterhead dredge E.W. ELLEFSEN (Weeks Marine) continues working on assignment in the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area (HDDA). The installation of the submerged dredge pipeline was completed was successfully installed on October 6, 2022. The cutterhead began dredging operations in the HDDA on October 7, 2022. The base contract is for 4 million cubic yards (mcy) of material with options for additional cubic yardage to be added as noted within the contract. The dredge has removed nearly 1 mcy of dredged material that is beneficially used to create land in the West Bay Receiving Area.
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): The Bar Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on March 16, 2022.
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CPPRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 50 feet (freshwater) on July 20, 2022.
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft to 49 feet (freshwater) from Mile 88 AHP to Mile 175 AHP on July 13, 2022. The maximum draft recommendation from Mile 175 to 180 remains 47 feet and from Mile 180 to Mile 233.8 it remains 45 feet.
Associated Federal Pilots and Docking Masters of Louisiana (Federal Pilots): The Federal Pilots increased their maximum draft recommendation on July 21, 2022, to the following:
50 feet from Sea Buoy to Mile 104.7 AHP.
49 feet from Mile 104.7 AHP to 175 AHP.
45 feet Mile 175 AHP to 232.4 AHP; and
40 feet Mile 232.4 AHP to 233.8 AHP.
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC from Mile 106 AHP (Huey P. Long) to the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy is now set at 50 feet (freshwater). The maximum draft decreases to 49 feet from the Port of New Orleans to Mile 175 AHP (Smoke Bend) until additional adjustments are made.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) reading at 1600 hours today was 2.60 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.32 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gage issued today forecasts stages will continue a steady fall to 1.8 feet on November 17 (2022). The highest crest on the Carrollton Gage in 2022 to date was 13.82 feet at 2100 hours on March 22, 2022.
The Baton Rouge Gage reading at 1700 hours was 5.16 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.29 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Baton Rouge Gauge issued today forecasts stages will continue a slow fall to 2.2 feet on November 17 (2022).