As we begin 2019, the Port of Morgan City is pleased to deliver our annual report for the year 2018 to you! It is rather lengthy, but we hope you will take the time to read it. We have a lot of good information to share with you. We also provided links throughout our report to some of the things we discussed incase you want to learn more about the topic.
We want to begin by thanking Congressman Higgins, Senator Cassidy, Senator Kennedy and the rest of our Louisiana delegation for helping us to achieve funding levels that we have not seen in many years for maintenance dredging of the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Boeuf, Black and Chene (ARBBBC). Our thanks and appreciation also go out to members of the Corps of Engineers from New Orleans, to Vicksburg, to DC who worked with us to achieve this monumental task. And, we want to extend our thanks to our commissioners and stakeholders who have played a huge part in advocating for a consistent, reliable channel. A combination of the FY 2018 work plan, supplemental funding for Hurricane Harvey damages, and the FY 2019 work plan has resulted in over $45 million dollars for the ARBBBC which is expected to provide a 20’ deep by 400’ wide channel for the next 2 years in the river and up to 3 years in the bar channel.
This is how these monies are expected to be utilized through contracts issued by the Corps of Engineers:
Atchafalaya River Crewboat Cut to Eugene Island - The Corps of Engineers has awarded a $16 million contract to Manson Construction Company for sand removal by cutterhead dredge. This dredge should be on site by the end of January or early February and will be there for 150 days.
Bayou Chene –The Corps is currently in the solicitation process for a contract to dredge Bayou Chene for $15 million.
Bayou Chene has been used as an alternate route for GIWW traffic while the Bayou Boeuf locks have undergone repairs. The locks are expected to close intermittently beginning late February. Currently the plan is to close 4 days per week for 12 hours, then be open 24 hours for 3 days. During times of lock closures, Bayou Chene will once again be used as the alternate route for GIWW traffic.
Atchafalaya River Bar Channel - Brice Civil Constructors, Inc. (Brice) https://www.bricecivil.com/ will be working with specialty-built equipment to reduce the density of the fluid mud, referred to as fluff, in the last 12 miles of the channel in the Gulf of Mexico. In July 2017 Brice expressed interest in performing fluff management in the Atchafalaya Bar Channel according to Corps specifications. Over a year later, on October 30, 2018, the Port of Morgan City was notified that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a Single Award Task Order Contract in the amount of $21.8 million to Brice to dredge the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel. This contract is expected to provide a reliable, navigable channel 24/7 365 days a year for up to 3 years, with $14 million being funded with FY 18 & 19 monies, and the remainder of the contract being funded out of future O & M.
Brice is part of the Calista Corporation, an Alaskan Native Corporation with more than 13,000 shareholders nationally. Brice has an 8(a) designation through the SBA. Brice is currently assembling the plant at Halimar Shipyard, LLC in Morgan City, Louisiana and is expected to be on site in the Bar Channel by mid-April 2019.
2017 ended with meetings and telephone conferences with Major General Richard Kaiser regarding the correspondence we received from General Kaiser in October 2017 stating that we must see a significant increase in tonnage or reduced funding levels would persist. We also provided a written response to his letter. As a result of this effort, General Kaiser gained a better understanding of the many obstacles that the Port District had experienced as well as our potential
On February 15, 2018, Mark Wingate, head civilian from the Corps of Engineers New Orleans District, and other Corps officials out of the New Orleans and Vicksburg Districts visited the Port of Morgan City as a follow up to the Port’s conversations with General Kaiser. The 5 issues discussed were tonnage, shoaling south of Crew Boat Cut, Brice, WRDA 2016 Section 1122 Beneficial Use of Dredge Material Pilot Program and the current budget and funding going forward. During the meeting we asked for Tom Podany with the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) https://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/Locations/IWR-Centers/Waterborne-Commerce-Statistics-Center-WCSC/in New Orleans to attend our next stakeholder meeting to discuss the importance of tonnage reporting.
We worked with our state and federal delegation and the Corps of Engineers throughout 2018, with guidance from Charles Brittingham of Cassidy & Associates in DC. Since his days with Senator Vitter, Charles has had very good relationships with the Corps of Engineers and others who are involved with the approval of the Corps’ budget, and he has done an excellent job working as our advocate in DC. Charles also lined up visits for Mac in DC with Senator Cassidy’s staff, Senator Kennedy’s staff, Congressman Scalise’ staff, Congressman Graves staff, Congressman Higgins and Corps Appropriation folks for Energy and Water in order to express the need for additional O & M funding.
We held a stakeholder meeting in March with about 50 people in attendance. Tom Podany and Dale Brown represented the WCSC in New Orleans, and they presented the who, why and how of tonnage reporting. The audience was extremely engaged. Tom responded to some concerns that stakeholders had regarding confidentiality of their information which seemed to make everyone more comfortable. We followed up in May by hosting tonnage workshops with WCSC. 23 people attended. As a result of this effort, the Corps now has new waterway users communicating with them and they have been able to improve the reporting process with some who were already reporting.
We have talked to the Corps on numerous occasions about them taking into consideration the type of activity (fabrication, shipbuilding and repair), and the value of that activity, that takes place at ports such as the Port of Morgan City, rather than using tonnage as the most critical metric when making funding decisions. We had a conversation with Tim Connell, Project Manager for the ARBBBC Project about this. Tim asked if we could provide him some details because he was working on a document about the Port where that information would be helpful. (He was actually working on our funding justification.) So, we put together information for him including some estimates on the value per ton for fabricated items and vessels built in this area compared to the value per ton of many of the commodities that go through a container port. We highlighted many of the contracts that were awarded to local industries that depend on the channel and the significance of many of those contracts to the nation. Charles Brittingham used the information we put together to support his effort in DC as well.
While we will continue to push for the Corps to consider other metrics for funding, tonnage transported on a federally authorized channel remains a critical factor which is why we introduced our tonnage slogan, “WHEN YOU DON’T REPORT, IT AFFECTS YOUR PORT!” While it is important to report all material handled at the docks within the port district it is actually tonnage transported on a federally authorized waterway that is the critical metric used for funding. For the Port of Morgan City, the metric that is critical to our funding is the tonnage that is transported along Bayous Boeuf, Black and Chene and the Atchafalaya River to the Gulf of Mexico. Any tonnage handled within the district that is not transported on the federally authorized waterway does not help with operations and maintenance funding. Example: If materials are transported north, east, or west on the GIWW and they don’t touch the ARBBBC those numbers are not used in the funding formula.
We would be happy to work with anyone who needs help with the reporting process.
FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES / PROJECTS
During 2018, we continued our effort to look for other funding opportunities and cost reductions for maintaining the channel. We attended many meetings with agencies and landowners to discuss beneficial use projects using sediment from the Atchafalaya River. We attended regular meetings of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) http://coastal.la.gov/, the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration http://coastal.la.gov/about/structure/committees/ , Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) https://lacoast.gov/new/About/, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) Management Conference Committee https://btnep.org/ and the Restore or Retreat Annual Meeting https://restoreorretreat.org/ in order to keep abreast of coastal issues and programs, not only for funding and beneficial use opportunities, but also to be aware of any projects that could affect the channel. We continued to monitor projects discussed at these meetings, and any other meetings that we learned about, as well as monitoring any legislation that could affect the river.
In January, during the CWPPRA Regional Planning Team Meeting for Region 3, held at the Port of Morgan City Emergency Operations Center, Randy Moertle, Manager for Point Au Fer, proposed a project to deliver sediment from the Lower Atchafalaya River to Point Au Fer by pipeline. Unfortunately, that project was not selected.
Regional Planning Team meetings are held each year in order to select new CWPPRA projects. The 2019 Regional Planning Team for Region 3 will be held at the Port’s EOC on January 30, 2019.
In the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2016 Section 1122 Beneficial Use of Dredge Material Pilot Program, the Corps of Engineers was directed to request proposals for beneficial use projects and to select up to 10 of the projects that were proposed. We submitted 3 proposals: (1) Atchafalaya River to Avoca Island Beneficial Use Using Material from Berwick Bay (worked with Avoca, Inc.), (2) Beneficial use of Lower Atchafalaya River sediments to create coastal habitats on Point Au Fer Island (We were contacted by CPRA to work with them on this proposal.), and (3) A Phased Approach to Move Dredged Material from the Lower Atchafalaya River to the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area and Point Au Fer Island (worked with LA Department of Wildlife & Fisheries)
We learned on December 19th that none of our projects were selected. There were 95 proposals submitted nationwide, and none of the 13 proposals that fell within the New Orleans District area of responsibility were selected. The 10 pilot projects selected were published in the Federal Register on Friday, December 28th. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-12-28/pdf/2018-28306.pdf
Although this was a one-time pilot program authorized by WRDA 2016, there is authorization for an additional 10 projects in Section 1130 of WRDA 2018. The Administration is evaluating this provision and its potential implementation. We will be following this closely and exploring any new possibilities for projects.
CPRA is soliciting new project ideas for the 2023 Coastal Master Plan http://coastal.la.gov/our-plan/2023-coastal-master-plan/. In order to learn about the project types being sought and how projects will be evaluated we participated in several seminars, meetings and workshops. We determined, along with the director of the Coastal Restoration and Preservation Department for Terrebonne Parish that a Long-Distance Sediment Transport Project from the Atchafalaya River to Eastern Terrebonne would be an excellent fit based on new criteria for large-scale projects.
On December 5th, we participated in the CPRA Regional workshop with Terrebonne Parish to discuss 2023 Master Plan Projects. At the end of the workshop we were able to submit draft proposals to be considered by CPRA. The group voted on the projects they were most in favor of with the “Atchafalaya Long Distance Sediment Transport to East Terrebonne” receiving the most votes and “Greater Terrebonne Bay Rim Restoration” coming in second out of 9 ideas proposed. CPRA said they would do some modeling of the two top vote getters which will be considered for inclusion in the master plan. CPRA said they would be contacting us for additional information. And, we will be working with Terrebonne Parish in order to support the sediment transport project.
The deadline to submit additional projects for the 2023 coastal Master Plan is 3/1/19.
In February, we met with Micaela Coner of CPRA, the project manager for the Increase Atchafalaya Flow to Terrebonne Parish Project https://www.nfwf.org/gulf/Documents/la-atchafalaya.pdf to discuss this proposed diversion around the Bayou Boeuf Locks. Micaela interviewed landowners and tenants to get feedback on 2 options: one north of the Bayou Boeuf Locks and the other south of the Bayou Boeuf locks. We received an update on the project from Micaela in early December stating that the team has completed design of both a Northern and Southern alignment alternative to a 15% level. They have determined that comparable benefits can be achieved with a northern alignment (smaller structure, less construction cost). CPRA is now working on modeling for both alternatives, including looking at downstream flooding impacts, a basin-wide suspended sediment assessment, and near-field sedimentation. Modeling results should be complete in Spring 2019. Once those results are all in, CPRA plans to formally select a design plan (either north or south) to progress to 30% design which should be done around Summer of 2019. Micaela will be at our February 11th board meeting to provide an update for commissioners and attendees.
Section 1224 of WRDA 2018 calls for a report on the structure and operations plan of the Old River Control Structure. We will be monitoring and attending public meetings as this effort progresses since anything that happens upstream can affect navigation and flood control for us.
We participated in the Statewide Listening Tour – Watershed Initiative https://watershed.la.gov/ at South Central Planning in Houma. In response to devastating floods in 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards charged several state agencies with coordinating their efforts to develop a new approach to reducing flood risk throughout Louisiana. In May 2018, Governor Edwards issued an executive order establishing the Council on Watershed Management to develop and implement a statewide floodplain management program based on watersheds as opposed to political and jurisdictional boundaries. In 2018, Governor Edwards announced a $1.2 billion allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earmarked for flood risk-reduction and mitigation efforts in Louisiana. This allocation will augment the state’s earlier and ongoing efforts in watershed planning. State officials are standing by, prepared to channel this funding into Watershed Initiative efforts after publication of the Federal Register Notice by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. We attended along with numerous people from Terrebonne, Lafourche and several state agencies. Terrebonne Parish presented their list of needs which included a request for $500,000 in funding for the Bayou Chene flood control structure.
We also participated in a USACE/CPRA South Central LA Study https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/South-Central-Coast/ kickoff meeting along with St. Mary Levee District. The purpose of the study is flood risk reduction in the parishes of St. Mary, St. Martin and Iberia. The Corps received supplemental funding to complete this study, so they are on a fast track to get this done. They are asking each parish to assist with any data they may have. We did bring up the WRDA 2018 request to study the 70/30 split at Old River because any changes will affect river levels in Morgan City. We also made a point that dredging the Atchafalaya River is not only for the benefit of navigation. It should be considered necessary for flood control as well.
We continue to take advantage of programs that bring money back to the community.
In November, the Louisiana Joint Committee on Transportation approved an application the Port submitted to Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for funding through Louisiana’s Port Priority Program http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LaDOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/Port_Priority/Pages/Ports.aspx in the amount of $5,915,000 for improvements at our 800 Youngs Road Terminal Facility. Improvements include rail spur repair and filling in the drainage canal next to the rail across the street from the facility to be used for additional lay down area, as well as an east dock expansion for additional lay down area. The Port/State split is $1,152,380/$4,762,620.
In November, we submitted a Capital Outlay https://www.doa.la.gov/Pages/ofpc/Capital%20Outlay/Capital_Outlay.aspx request for $1.25 million per year for the next 3 years for a total of $3.75 million. If approved, the funds would be used to help offset the Ports contribution for dredging of the ARBBBC as per an MOA between the Port and the Corps which was approved by the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Board of Directors December of 2017. The Non-Federal share from the Port is expected to be $1,250,000 for FY 19 and each year going forward.
The Port has received Capital Outlay funding in the past. The State provided $8.5 million in Capital Outlay funding to assist the port with building the MCHTD Emergency Operations Center with the intent, at the time, of housing the U. S. Coast Guard on the first floor. We are pleased to announce that on December 1, 2018, the U. S. Coast Guard signed a 20-year lease to occupy the first floor of the EOC. They are currently installing communications lines, etc., and we are eager to have them move in.
Since the building was officially used by the Corps of Engineers, the National Guard and the St. Mary Levee District during the Atchafalaya River flood in late 2015 – early 2016, the training room and command center of the EOC has been used about 40% of the time, or at least twice a week, for meetings and training by law enforcement and numerous governmental agencies. The Port of Morgan City held stakeholder meetings as well as hosting Annual Hurricane Preparedness Meetings along with the National Weather Service, St. Mary Levee District, St. Mary Parish OHSEP, and the U. S. Coast Guard.
Remaining projects for the FY 2015 Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) https://www.fema.gov/port-security-grant-program were completed in 2018. The total award for 2015 was $278,800 with $209,100 in federal funding and the Port’s match of $69,700. The 2016 FY PSGP projects will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019. The total award for FY ’16 was $593,000 with $444,750 in federal funding and the Port’s match of $148,250.
COMMUNICATIONS / PUBLIC RELATIONS / MARKETING
It is our intent to keep our community informed about what is going on at the Port. Throughout the year we scheduled stakeholder meetings or sent out email communications to let you know about any new developments concerning the channel. We also provided updates and did presentations for anyone who invited us or accepted our offer to present.
We also want our leaders, waterway users, and economic developers in our region, the state and beyond to understand what the Port of Morgan City has to offer. The meetings and conferences that we attended provided opportunities to network with local leaders and members (or their representatives) of our state and federal delegation as well as state agencies such as CPRA, DOTD, Louisiana Economic Development (LED), Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (WLF.) On the federal level we have been able to connect with NOAA, the National Weather Service, the Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Coast Guard and many more. These events also provide us an opportunity to keep abreast of changing laws and regulations that could affect our area and create awareness about the Port District.
We have prepared funding justifications and PowerPoint presentations, provided copy for articles, and designed ads throughout the year in order to remain visible. The following is a list of some of these activities:
We also made presentations at the 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers Louisiana Section Spring Conference, a U. S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and IRPT Strong Ports Workshop in Bay St. Louis, and to the Mississippi River Commission at the high water public meeting in the Spring and the low water public meeting in the Summer.
Our affiliations include Ports Association of Louisiana (PAL) https://www.portsoflouisiana.org/, Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association (LIDEA) http://www.lidea.org/, Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) http://www.gicaonline.com/ , National Waterways Conference (NWC) https://waterways.org/, Gulf Ports Association of the Americas (GPAA) http://gulfportsaa.com/ and Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals (IRPT) https://www.irpt.net/. We attended monthly meetings, conferences and webinars regularly with these groups.
We also attended a Louisiana Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers (LCOPRI) Seminar in Baton Rouge, The State of the Coast Conference in New Orleans, The Inland Waterways Conference in New Orleans, The American Association of Port Authorities Conference in DC, The Western Dredging Association (WEDA) Conference in New Orleans and joint chamber luncheons hosted by St. Mary, Lafourche, Thibodaux and Terrebonne Chambers in Gray where Senators Kennedy and Cassidy were the guest speakers, to name just a few more.
Cindy Cutrera, Economic Development Manager for the Port of Morgan City, was appointed President of IRPT at their annual conference in April 2018. Cindy has been involved with that organization since 2012 when she first became a GIWW Basin Representative on the Board of Directors. She has served on IRPT’s Executive Committee since 2014, serving two years as second vice president and two years as first vice president before becoming president.
One of IRPT’s major platforms, improving tonnage reporting to the Institute for Water Resources (IWR) https://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/, is a result of Cindy bringing the issue up at a board meeting in 2013 and the board discovering that this was a common problem across the entire inland river system. Cindy and IRPT’s Executive Director Aimee Andres had several meetings with the Institute for Water Resources (IWR) staff from Virginia and WCSC in New Orleans to discuss ways that IWR and IRPT can work together to improve the tonnage reporting process. As President of IRPT, Cindy signed a Memorandum of Common Purpose between USACE IWR and IRPT with Dr. Joe Manous, the new head of IWR, in September 2018.
IWR and IRPT are working together to develop a plan of specific actions. They discussed ways that IRPT and WCI can work together to improve the tonnage reporting process and how they might make sure that everyone is reporting tonnage. Another point IRPT has brought to the table with IWR is the need to use other metrics in addition to tonnage to justify funding.
In addition to networking opportunities at meetings and conferences, we maintained communications with our delegation and the Corps throughout the year through conference calls, webinars, letters of request, letters of appreciation, and even a few text messages.
One of the webinars hosted by the Corps of Engineers was about improvements made to the Section 408 Permission Process. Many of the improvements made were to processes that the Port had previously called to the attention of James Dalton, Director of Civil Works for the USACE in DC.
Two excellent opportunities for stakeholders and commissioners to network and talk about issues with members of the Corps are during the The Mississippi River Commission (MRC) High Water and Low Water Inspection trips. These events provide opportunities to ride on the M/V Mississippi and have one-on-one conversation with members of the Corps and the Commission as well as making a public comment which becomes a permanent record of the Commission. We rode the MV Mississippi and stated our case before the Commission at the high water meeting in Baton Rouge and the low water meeting at the Port of Morgan City terminal facility dock in Morgan City.
We continue to provide valuable information on our website such as data collected at NOAA stations in the channel and navigation surveys of the channel. http://www.portofmc.com/
In November, we went live with our newly created Facebook Page. Check out Port of Morgan City on Facebook if you haven’t done so yet. We will be posting meeting dates and agendas and sharing positive news about the Port.
We were also involved in local and regional initiatives that we believe will enhance our economic opportunities.
In 2015, a group of citizens, now referred to as St. Mary Excel https://www.cfacadiana.org/st-mary-excel, began meeting with local officials and interested community members to discuss revitalization of the Morgan City/Berwick communities. Port representatives attended the meetings held by this group and eventually made a $20,000 contribution towards a $135,000 study to be conducted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI). We assisted with the preparation of a briefing booklet by contributing information about the river and the port, and we participated in meetings and interviews during ULI’s visit to Morgan City. The final report by ULI is to be released in mid-January.
We were also invited to participate in a regional infrastructure study sponsored by the One Acadiana Infrastructure Committee https://www.oneacadiana.org/. We discussed dredging of the ARBBBC, completion of I-49 and other roadway improvements for St. Mary Parish. We provided detailed information on our dredging needs which was included in One Acadiana’s Vision document. The Port of Morgan City was recognized as a stakeholder by One Acadiana when they presented their vision at a DOTD Road Show held in Lafayette in October.
OUTGOING / INCOMING BOARD MEMBERS
We experienced several changes to our board in 2018. We were saddened by the death of Gary Duhon when he lost his battle to cancer. We welcomed Pete Orlando to the board as Gary’s replacement. We would like to express our sincere thanks to outgoing commissioners Duane Lodrigue and Thomas “Matt” Ackel, for the time they served. Troy Lombardo and Steven Cornes will be joining the board as their replacements at the January meeting. And, finally, we were happy to have Joe Cain re-appointed for his second term by the Berwick Council members.
OUR WORK CONTINUES!
As we begin 2019, our top priority continues to be to consistently maintain the Atchafalaya River and Bayous Boeuf, Black and Chene at 20’ deep by 400’ wide. We must be able to justify continued funding through economic development, job creation, increasing tonnage that is transported on our congressionally authorized channel, and ensuring that tonnage is being accurately reported to the IWR. We will continue to look for other funding opportunities and cost reductions for maintaining the channel. We are already consulting with Charles Brittingham and working on FY 2020 O & M funding.
It is an exciting time for us at the Port of Morgan City! We are excited to talk about what we are doing. We hope you will call us or come by to visit if you have any questions.
In closing, we want to once again thank our stakeholders for contributing to our success. We look forward to working with all of you in 2019!