Prior to last week’s closure of the U.S. Capitol, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association (AIWA) and Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) joined a broad coalition of groups to advocate on behalf of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) that runs from Norfolk, Va. to Miami.
The coalition went to Capitol Hill to push for the establishment of an individual allocation for dredging maintenance, address navigational needs, and to help grow recognition of the waterway’s economic impact on $427 billion outdoor recreation economy.
“The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is both a celebrated recreationway and important commercial waterway with strategic national importance, but it’s too shallow,” BoatUS manager of government affairs and AIWA chairman David Kennedy, said in a prepared statement. “Authorized depth is 12-feet, but shoaling from storms and hurricanes has left some portions with as little as five-feet of water. While we’ve had success getting some funding restored, current estimates of the waterway’s unmet maintenance needs are about $75 million.”
Part of any new funding would be targeted for additional dredging needs on the waterway’s small, remote or subsistence navigation harbors, where recreational boating is often a local driver of the economy.
“All waterway users rely on a well-maintained waterway and contribute to its economic value,” said AIWA Executive Director Brad Pickel. “We urge the Administration and Congress to consider the economic impact of not only commercial usage but also the significant impact of recreational boating in communities along Marine Highway 95’s 1,100-mile path.”