On September 30, 2015, the US Army Corps of Engineers published a notice of intent to identify a list of federal water resource development projects for deauthorization in accordance with section 6001(c) of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. The proposed list, which is found in the first attachment, is a bookkeeping exercise to remove authorized, but unlikely-to-be-funded-in-the-foreseeable-future, projects.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works will submit a Final Deathorization List to Congress at some point in the next congressional session. The projects on that list will be deauthorized automatically 180 days following the date the ASA(CW) submits the list, unless the Congress passes a joint resolution disapproving the Final Deauthorization List or the non-Federal interest for the project provides sufficient funds to complete the project. Comments were due January 4.

One of the projects listed is Alabama-Coosa River and Tributaries, AL (Coosa River between Montgomery And Gadsden), otherwise known as the Coosa River Navigation Project (CRNP). While we cheer the government’s attempt at bookkeeping efficiency, what is the cost to the federal government of keeping the CRNP on the books? Nothing. What is the cost to the State of Alabama? Loss of an economic development asset with unrealized potential.

I submitted comments (listed below) opposing listing the CRNP as a candidate project for deauthorization. While we recognize the obstacles to actually construct a navigable waterway in the Coosa River, the project is nevertheless authorized for planning, design (much of which has already been done), and engineering. Keeping the CNRP on the books costs the federal government nothing, and who knows what future economic opportunities there might be for water transportation in the Coosa River basin?

We might also look at this deauthorization list as a move on the part of the federal government to eliminate waterway projects considered to be non-productive. The logical progression from cutting authorized, but unfunded projects is to reduce or eliminate funding for “low-use” waterway projects, e.g., the Alabama River or the ACF system. The navigation function on both of those systems is already in “caretaker” status, i.e., minimal funding to operate (reduced number of lock operators, no maintenance funding to repair a broken lock, no dredging, etc.). These type systems are low-hanging fruit for the federal budget cutters. CARIA’s objective is to protect these very capable systems, both valuable economic assets, to the max possible.

jsailors-sig

Jerry L. Sailors
President, CARIA
334-265-5744