NEWS from BoatUS
Boat Owners Association of The United States
880 S. Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
BoatUS Press Room at www.BoatUS.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: D. Scott Croft, 703-461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
Waterway's Economic Impact and Future
To Be Discussed at AIWA Annual Conference November 15 & 16, 2006
The future of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and its economic impact will top the agenda at the upcoming Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association’s (AWIA) Annual Meeting to be held Thursday, November 16 at the Blockade Runner Resort and Conference Center in Wrightsville Beach, NC. “Working Together to Make a Difference” is the theme of this year’s annual meeting.
Stretching over 1200 miles from Norfolk, VA, to Miami, FL, the strategic waterway has fallen on hard times. Two challenges facing the waterway are minimal appropriations for maintenance as well as an awkward federal budgeting process that fails to recognize the waterway’s importance as a transportation system for waterborne commerce and recreational vessel traffic along the Eastern Seaboard.
“The good news is that we are making a difference,” reports Ryck Lydecker , AWIA Board Member and assistant vice president of Government Affairs for BoatUS. “Thanks to the support of ICW users and the many communities along the waterway that have joined forces, Congress is beginning to listen — last year it overrode the Bush administration’s waterway maintenance budget of less than $4 million, increasing it to nearly $13 million. However, that is still far short of what is needed to keep the waterway open so one goal of the meeting is to develop grass roots strategies to continue the momentum,” he added.
Government policy continues to short-change the waterway, Lydecker says, because budgeting for federal maintenance is done piecemeal. “The entire route between Norfolk, VA and Miami, FL must be regarded as an integral transportation system, much as interstate highways, to ensure cost-effective and safe navigation conditions,” he said.
The meeting begins Wednesday evening November 15 with an opening reception and exhibits at 5:00 pm. The following day will feature reports from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged by Congress with maintaining the waterway; a report on the economic impact of the waterway in North Carolina; strategy sessions for continued waterway funding; a report on the European inland waterway system; and a discussion on “short seas shipping” on the East Coast. The highlight of the day will be presentation of Waterway Stewardship Awards to 12 North Carolina communities that joined forces with the state and federal governments to address critical dredging needs.