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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

House Passes Shea-Porter’s Hampton Harbor and Piscataqua River Dredging Amendments

June 7, 2018
Press Release
Water Resources Development Act Moves to Senate with Key Shea-Porter Provisions Included

WASHINGTON, DC— Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s (NH-01) amendments to dredge Hampton and Portsmouth Harbors have been included in the House Water Resources Development Act, which passed this evening 408-2. Amendment #40, which would dredge Hampton Harbor can be found here, and amendment #41, which would dredge Portsmouth Harbor, can be found here. Both amendments were adopted by voice vote.

“Hampton Harbor is New Hampshire’s largest commercial fishing port, and it is a lifeline to the ocean for New Hampshire fishermen,” said Shea-Porter. “Severe shoaling has made the water so shallow that it will soon become unnavigable. Some vessels must wait for the tides to be at their highest simply to enter the harbor… The narrowing and shallowing of the Harbor not only places unnecessary costs on local businesses, but it is also a safety hazard. As access points to the harbor become tighter, and the window for entering the harbor safely narrows, more boats must enter and exit the harbor at the same time. This greatly increases the risk of a collision. A local fisherman, in a letter to his local newspaper, has warned that it’s ‘Only a matter of time before there is a boat-to-boat or boat-to-wall collision, which will result in major property damage and possible human injury or death.’”

“Portsmouth Harbor is vital to both New Hampshire’s economy and our national security,” said Shea-Porter. “It is the only deep draft harbor located in the state of New Hampshire, and is the port of entry for fuels that generate 20% of New Hampshire’s energy. The Harbor is also home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where Granite Staters work on our nation’s advanced nuclear submarines. But it is a challenging Harbor to navigate— home to some of the fastest tidal currents on earth. That is why it is so important that the Portsmouth Harbor project move forward quickly. The Harbor must remain safe and navigable.”

“I am pleased that the House has passed my amendments to promptly dredge Hampton and Portsmouth harbors and help our state,” Shea-Porter added after the House passed the Water Resources Development Act.

The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) must maintain and improve roughly 12,000 miles of shallow waterways and coastal channels, including 400 ports, harbors, and turning basins. These must be carefully managed to allow marine traffic to continue operating safely and efficiently. Only a few of these waterways are naturally deep enough for marine commerce, meaning many of them must be dredged periodically so they remain safe for navigation. Tides and currents push shoals, more commonly known as sand bars, into the navigation channels, a process known as shoaling. This sand must then be removed by dredging equipment. Since the harbor was last dredged in 2013, it has experienced significant shoaling and now requires emergency dredging.

In March, Shea-Porter sent a letter with the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James, requesting that emergency dredging for Hampton Harbor be included in the OMB and Army Corps of Engineers’ fiscal year 2018 work plan. The two agencies develop an annual work plan to address high-need projects following the implementation of government funding legislation.

 

Shea-Porter’s full remarks on Hampton Harbor amendment:

Mr. Chairman, my amendment is straightforward. It directs the US Army Corps of Engineers to use its existing authority to dredge Hampton Harbor in Southern New Hampshire.

Hampton Harbor is New Hampshire’s largest commercial fishing port, and it is a lifeline to the ocean for New Hampshire fishermen. Severe shoaling has made the water so shallow that it will soon become unnavigable. Some vessels must wait for the tides to be at their highest simply to enter the harbor. Over 1300 recreational vessels, emergency response and patrol boats, and numerous commercial lobster and fishing boats could be cut off from the ocean.

The narrowing and shallowing of the Harbor not only places unnecessary costs on local businesses, but it is also a safety hazard. As access points to the harbor become tighter, and the window for entering the harbor safely narrows, more boats must enter and exit the harbor at the same time. This greatly increases the risk of a collision. A local fisherman, in a letter to his local newspaper, has warned that it’s “Only a matter of time before there is a boat-to-boat or boat-to-wall collision, which will result in major property damage and possible human injury or death.” This project must move forward as soon as possible.

Thank you, Mr./Ms. Chairman. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

 

Shea-Porter’s full remarks on Portsmouth Harbor amendment:

Mr. Chairman, my amendment simply directs the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite its existing Portsmouth Harbor Navigation Improvement Project.

Portsmouth Harbor is vital to both New Hampshire’s economy and our national security. It is the only deep draft harbor located in the state of New Hampshire, and is the port of entry for fuels that generate 20% of New Hampshire’s energy. The Harbor is also home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where Granite Staters work on our nation’s advanced nuclear submarines. But it is a challenging Harbor to navigate— home to some of the fastest tidal currents on earth. That is why it is so important that the Portsmouth Harbor project move forward quickly. The Harbor must remain safe and navigable.

The skilled sailors of the United States Navy can navigate this difficult waterway. But it is vital that commercial traffic can also use the harbor safely, and that commercial vessels do not delay the submarines’ entry to the Shipyard. In addition, a maritime incident triggered by this difficult waterway could cause a devastating oil spill that negatively impacts the Shipyard.