Mariners on the heartland rivers have until July 1 to tell the Coast Guard how to improve aids to navigation on the Western Rivers System.

With similar studies underway for the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coast and islands, the Coast Guard Waterways Analysis and Management System (WAMS) is also reviewing the Western Rivers Aids to Navigation (ATON) System.

It is a totally different system from the saltwater, thanks to the dynamic and unstable nature of the Mississippi River and channels. The Coast Guard operates this system on the Mississippi River from Upper Mississippi River Mile 857 to Lower Mississippi River Mile 155 and on its tributaries, and other waterways.
Interested mariners and maritime stakeholders can provide input at That link will be open for comments until July 1.

Along with the online survey, the WAMS sis looking at cargo data from the Corps of Engineers Waterborne Statistics Center. Automatic Identification System (AIS) marine traffic data will also be analyzed and compared with environmental conditions, such as ice and water levels.

“Through these system-wide navigation studies, the U.S. Coast Guard is reviewing its nation-wide policy on the use of ATON and delivery of Marine Safety Information to promote the safety of future maritime transportation and commerce on U.S. navigable waters,” according to a statement from the Coast Guard asking for mariners to participate in the survey.

The Western Rivers System also includes these rivers and waterways:

  • Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route (Louisiana)
  • That part of the Atchafalaya River above its junction with the Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route including the Old River and the New River.
  • The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (Mississippi)
  • Tombigbee River ((Mississippi-Alabama)
  • Black Warrior River (Alabama)
  • Alabama River
  • Coosa River (Alabama)
  • Mobile River above Cochrane Bridge at St. Louis Point
  • Flint River
  • Chattahoochee River
  • Apalachicola River above its confluence with the Jackson River

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.