USA - AAPA Harbor Maintenance Funding Agreement Advances in House
On Wednesday, July 15th, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, legislation to authorize navigation, flood control and environmental water projects throughout the United States.
Of key interest to all ports, the legislation includes a modified version of the harbor maintenance funding distribution plan negotiated by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
As a reminder, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) was created by Congress in 1986. It receives revenue from the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), a fee collected from companies that ship goods through the nation’s ports. The purpose of the tax is to fund the Army Corps of Engineers’ operation and maintenance activities. In the Great Lakes, these activities include regular dredging of harbors, maintenance of breakwaters, and operation of the Soo Locks. Despite the fact that adequate revenue is being collected (approximately $1.7 billion annually), Congress has historically restricted spending on harbor maintenance due to budgetary constraints. The result is crumbling infrastructure and harbors choked with sand and silt. In the Great Lakes region there is a $150 million dredging backlog. Breakwaters and jetties need $300 million in repairs, and the Soo Locks require $73 million in upgrades.