Ohio EPA: Regarding Section 401 Water Quality Certification

Ohio EPA
Division of Surface Water
Permits Processing Unit
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049

Dear Sir or Madam:

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force was founded in 1992 to promote shipping and related industries on the Great Lakes. We are the largest coalition ever to represent the Great Lakes maritime community. As you can see from our letterhead, 25 of our members are based in Ohio.

We are writing to urge you to issue a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the dredging that has been proposed for Huron Harbor in 2007. Huron is a major port. In recent years, receipts of limestone and iron ore have averaged 1.1 million tons. The limestone serves the construction industry in the area. The iron ore feeds a steel mill in West Virginia. Many family-sustaining jobs depend on these cargos.

Huron Harbor is desperately in need of dredging. The Federal navigation channel is so clogged with silt that last year one vessel was unable to enter the port and instead had to deliver the cargo to Lorain, Ohio. The first ship of 2007 encountered severe shoaling and was barely able to transit the harbor, even though its loaded draft was six inches less than its last delivery in 2006.

We are aware that budget shortfalls have cancelled the dredging planned in Huron in 2007. However, the Task Force and others will work with our Federal legislators to address the lack of dredging in Huron and other Great Lakes harbors. Therefore, we urge issuance of the certificate so that dredging can begin as soon as possible once funds are identified.

Great Lakes shipping has been a cornerstone of Ohio's economy since the 1850s. Maintaining our ports to project dimensions is critical to the State's future. Again, we urge you to issue the Section 401 Water Quality Certification.

Sincerely,

John D. Baker, President
Patrick J. O'Hern, 1st Vice President-Positions & Resolutions
Daniel L. Smith, 2nd Vice President-Membership
James H.I. Weakley, 3rd Vice President-Government Relations