The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) resumed channel maintenance dredging in Southwest Pass (Fiscal Year 2022) as river stages are expected to crest at 10.5 feet on the Carrollton Gage (New Orleans) over the weekend (January 23, 2022). 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 dredged up to Mile 175 Above Head of Passes (AHP) at Smoke Bend Crossing.
HOPPER DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
GLENN EDWARDS: The industry hopper dredge GLENN EDWARDS (Manson Construction) is dredging on assignment at the Head of Passes from Mile 2.2 AHP to Mile 1.0 Below Head of Passes (BHP). The GLENN EDWARDS resumed working under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020 on January 13, 2022, the hopper is expected to complete this contract by early March. The GLENN EDWARDS will then commence work under a second contract Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #2-2021 that should keep it in SWP until late August (2022).
TERRAPIN ISLAND: The industry hopper dredge TERRAPIN ISLAND (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock) is expected to start work under Southwest Pass Hopper Dredge Rental Contract #1-2021 in mid-February (2022).
The USACE was able to award two “Early Award” contracts in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) for dredging to be conducted in Fiscal Year 2022. The FY 21 contracts listed above for the TERRAPIN ISLAND (#1-2021) and the second one for the GLENN EDWARDS (#2-2021) are both early award contracts. The USACE has used both the early award and regional dredging contracts to secure dredges for SWP in advance of shoaling with the added flexibility of allowing dredges under contract to work between USACE Districts. These adjustments have proven beneficial and were implemented to reduce the negative impacts of severe shoaling that has often led to reductions of the maximum draft for vessels transiting Southwest Pass.
WHEELER: The USACE’s hopper dredge WHEELER is expected to start work under Readiness Exercise #1-2022 in SWP from January 25 to February 10 (2022).
CUTTERHEAD DREDGE(S) WORKING IN SOUTHWEST PASS (SWP):
ROBERT M. WHITE: The industry cutterhead dredge ROBERT M. WHITE is expected to complete work in South Pass by the end of January and then resume work in Southwest Pass. The cutterhead will also be working under a previous contract, Southwest Pass Cutterhead Dredge Rental Contract #2-2020. The cutterhead’s first assignment is expected to be from Mile 7.0 BHP to Mile 8.0 BHP on the western side of the channel, this is a key location for beneficial use to protect the Ship Channel.
MAXIMUM DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS PER PILOT ASSOCIATION:
Based on the channel deepening project and the continued efforts to provide surveys over pipelines in two key areas of the Ship Channel (Venice Corridor and at Mile 158) the documentation of the present maximum draft recommendation for each Pilot Association is listed below:
Associated Branch Pilots of the Port of New Orleans (Bar Pilots): Based on the latest channel surveys the Bar Pilots increased the maximum draft recommendation for their route to 49 feet (freshwater) on December 17, 2021.
Crescent River Port Pilots Association (CRPPA): The CRPPA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 48 feet (freshwater) for their route on December 20, 2021.
New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots (NOBRA): The NOBRA raised their maximum draft recommendation to 48 feet (freshwater) up to Mile 150 AHP on January 11, 2022.
Also in NOBRA’s route, the maximum draft for the reach from Mile 150 to Mile 180 remains at 47 feet and above Mile 180 the maximum draft recommendation remains set at 45 feet. NOBRA is working closely with the BRC and USACE to get updated surveys that will be scrutinized as all parties work to ensure navigational safety as adjustments to maximum draft recommendations are established above Mile 150. The intent is to align the deeper draft up to Mile 175 AHP (Smoke Bend) the upriver threshold of the USACE Phase 2 deepening efforts.
The controlling maximum freshwater draft for the MRSC is 48 feet up to Mile 150 AHP, until further adjustments can be made.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER STAGE UPDATES:
The Carrollton Gauge (New Orleans) reading at 1300 hours today was 9.94 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.52 feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Extended Streamflow Prediction (28-Day) for the Carrollton Gauge issued today forecasts the stages to continue a slow rise cresting at 10.5 feet this weekend (January 23, 2022) before beginning a slow fall to 6.3 feet on February 16, 2022.
The Baton Rouge Gauge reading at 1400 hours was 27.58 feet with a 24-hour change of + 0.25 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 a slow rise will continue before cresting at 27.7 feet on January 21, 2022 before beginning a steady fall to 16.3 feet on February 16, 2022.