There are over 170 Federal navigation projects maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. Most of these are coastal harbors; there are also several river channels.
The projects include 11 deep draft commercial waterways with authorized depths of 35' or more, and a diverse array of channels and harbors which support the navigation needs of national defense, petroleum and other commercial goods shippers, commercial fishing vessels, and recreational boating. Federal waterways in New England carry about 80 million tons of commercial goods annually and facilitate substantial ancillary economic activity associated with both commercial shipping and recreational pursuits. Federal navigation projects are authorized, constructed and maintained on the premise that they will be accessible and available to all on equal terms. Our work includes ensuring that the communities we rely on to manage these projects meet this objective. Our mission is to assure that Federal navigation projects are adequate for the vessels which use them. We monitor projects periodically through hydrographic surveys and contact with users.
The Corps of Engineers is a strong proponent for safe navigation, but not an advocate for dredging any specific harbor. We work with the states and communities as partners to identify objectives, resolve concerns, and guide needed work through the regulatory process. Once the need for dredging is established through evaluation of existing navigation conditions and the requirements of users, several critical steps follow before dredging occurs: Sampling and testing of the shoal material, search and identification of a suitable disposal site for the material, coordination with State and Federal Resource Agencies, and coordination with the public. Once we develop a dredging and disposal plan and complete coordination the project funding is requested from Congress. When the work is eventually funded, we develop plans and specification and advertise the work. The vast majority of our work is done by private contractor under Corps supervision.