ICW suffers from lack of dredge funding

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In 1938 Congress established the Rivers and Harbors Act, which, among other things, allowed for the preservation and maintenance of an inland waterway that would allow modestly sized military, commercial and recreational vessels alike to navigate along the coast without being exposed to dangerous conditions offshore. The channel was to have a consistent depth of 12 feet; fixed bridge spans were to be no lower than 65 feet unless fitted with an opening section in the center of the channel for large vessels to pass through.

Though mandated to be dredged to a depth of 12 feet, stretches of the ICW are reportedly as shallow as 4 feet.
   Image Credit: Tom Zydler photos

Today, the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), or Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW), as it is alternately known, still runs the 1,200 miles from New York to Florida, but it is in the advanced stages of what biologists call eutrophication. In other words, it’s filling in. The channel depth is nowhere near 12 feet. Some depths are reportedly less than 4 feet, and there have been recent closures of certain areas, particularly in the Carolinas, reportedly due to funding lapses.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association, originally founded by commercial users of the waterway and now including recreational mariners, was organized in 1999 to lobby for the continued maintenance of the ICW. The group’s website, www.atlintracoastal.org, announces lobbying measures in Washington and provides news such as shallow spots and bridge and channel closures.

By Ocean Navigator