ICW Boaters Will Benefit from $48.5M Dredging Funding

On “America’s Marine Highway 95,” the Intracoastal Waterway, a maintenance backlog is finally getting some attention.
Man sitting at the bow, on a sailboat, relaxing and watching a swing bridge opening to let sailboats through
The ICW will benefit from more than $48 million for critical dredging and harbor maintenance this year. david_charron/stock.adobe.com

There’s good news for the hundreds of thousands of boaters who use the 1,100-mile Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) each year to recreate, either as part of their home waters or cruising America’s “Marine Highway 95,” transiting the AIWW’s ten states from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida.

The Fiscal Year 2024 Energy and Water Appropriations bill recently passed with bipartisan support and with additional funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is delivering $48.5 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for a FY 2024 work plan to address critical waterway maintenance and dredging issues in five states. The breakdown of funding is as follows:

  • Virginia: $5.3 million
  • North Carolina: $26.6 million
  • South Carolina: $8.5 million
  • Georgia: $4 million
  • Florida: $4 million

The waterway’s chief advocate, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association (AIWA), has worked for more than a decade to restore sufficient dredging funding to return the waterway to its authorized depth of 12 feet. The Waterway was authorized in the 1939 Rivers and Harbors Act and the USACE is responsible for its maintenance. Shoaling in certain locations continues to threaten passage of recreational and commercial vessels.

AIWA members include Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). Said BoatUS manager of government affairs and AIWA board member David Kennedy. “The Intracoastal is used by many kinds of boaters and anglers, and dredging is critical to safety and the economic development that boating brings to waterfront communities. This latest win, along with more sustained support for other shallow draft harbors, gives promise that the boater’s voice is being heard in the halls of government. Our thanks to AIWA for helping to deliver these dredging funds that help ensure safe navigation.”

“It was not that long ago that we had zero federal dollars for dredging, and the waterway’s future was being questioned,” said AIWA executive director Brad Pickel. “We thank Congress, the Biden Administration, and all of our local state partners and members for helping to deliver these critical USACE funds.”