MORGAN CITY — Agitation dredging field trials in the Atchafalaya Bar and Bay Channel were not included in an existing contract that began in August but may be included on a contract for the Atchafalaya River’s Bar Channel if bids, which were scheduled to be open today, come in favorably.
Mike Lowe and Darrel Broussard, both representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans Office, delivered the news to the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District during its monthly meeting Monday.
Lowe said a modification to the dredging contract to Mike Hooks in the Atchafalaya Bar and Bay Channel that began Aug. 6, was not made because no fluff was available to agitate — the area was composed of hard sand rather than the softer substance that gives jet-propulsion engines of boats fits.
Also, because the area the field trial would be undertaken in was near the port’s Demonstration Channel Alignment Structure (DCASS), Corps officials thought the structure would effect the field trial.
The trial, which will involve dragging a beam on the bottom of the waterway, is a method the port has been working with Moffatt and Nichol and the Corps to undertake in an attempt to keep fluff suspended so it does not prohibit navigation.
If the bids are favorable in today’s unsealing, the field trials will be added to the work shortly after the contract is awarded. The field trial will be completed just south of the DCASS.
While no representatives of Moffatt and Nichol were at Monday’s meeting, according to their report, equipment is available for the work.
Plans for the field trials are to dredge the area and then go back three or four weeks later and agitate some areas, while leaving other areas untouched to see if dragging the beam really makes a difference.
While water injection dredging, in which water is shot into the dredged material to break it up, has been discussed as a possible option, Broussard said there are concerns that the only water injection equipment in the area could not withstand the rough waters of the Atchafalaya where it would be needed.
In other dredging work, Lowe reported that during dredging work following this spring’s flood, at least 4 feet of material as well as debris had to be removed from the Atchafalaya Bay, while in Berwick Bay there was silt accumulated up to 2 feet in some areas. Lowe said sediment buildup was not as bad as he anticipated by Conrad Industries.
Lowe said that the dredge Missouri H, which worked in Berwick Bay and has been moved to Wax Lake Crossing and other areas, will return to Tidewater Point to dredge there. This dredge’s work is expected to be complete around Sept. 28.
Regarding the port’s Dredged Material Management Plan — or DMMP — Broussard said once Crewboat Cut is approved by the Corps headquarters, no more new disposal areas will be needed for dredged material.
A preliminary assessment is being reviewed, and Broussard said one last step — besides gaining Corps final approval for Crewboat Cut — is to gain right of entry into two disposal areas in the Bayou Black area.
Both the Crewboat Cut change and the Bayou Black rights of entry will be incorporated into the final preliminary assessment.
“That will be the last piece we will need for what we call the Dredged Material Management Plan,” Broussard said.
In another dredging matter, port consultant Martin Cancienne of The Livingston Group in Washington, D.C., noted that while the U.S. Senate Appropriation’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved funding legislation that contains $1 billion more in funding than the House version that passed July 15 and includes an additional $1.045 billion in disaster relief funding to repair infrastructure from flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the Port of Morgan City’s auspice is funded at about the same level in both versions, $7.08 billion in the house and $7.10 billion in the Senate
The bill would spend $57 million less than in the 2011 fiscal year and $4.9 billion less than what President Barack Obama requested.
Cancienne said with only three weeks left until the end of the fiscal year, it appears that a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running will be likely.
He suggested that commissioners make a visit to Washington, D.C., in October.