The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway runs from Norfolk, Va. to Miami. Regular dredging would make travel along the waterway less treacherous. Federal law mandates that the Army Corps of Engineers maintain a 12-foot depth, but funding for the work has not kept up with the rise in silt.
"Over the years, it has filtered in, and there are areas where the waterway can be as low as 7 or 6 feet," said Rosemary Lynch, executive director of the
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association
Members of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association want to convince Congress about the need of more funding. They claim a clogged waterway can hurt businesses, recreation and threaten the local economy.
"We're talking billions of dollars being brought into the local economy because of the intracoastal waterway," Lynch said.
Bos Smith, the owner of a tugboat company, said some companies are considering sites in North Carolina that are counting on a clear waterway, but he said those companies may not come and others may leave if they believe they will run aground.
"If we don't have a strategic vision of how we are going to transport goods in the United States, we are going to have a serious problem," he said.
President George W. Bush is expected to sign a funding bill to assist the waterway in September. However, officials do not know how much funding the waterway will receive.
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