Impact of Government Shutdown on West Fork Dredging

For those of you wondering how the federal government shutdown would impact dredging, the answer is “little at present.” Dredging continues. The government allocated funds for the current emergency West Fork dredging program long before the shutdown. As of this evening, prospects for a quick resolution of the budget impasse were dim according to the Associated Press.

Dredge currently operating near West Lake Houston Parkway

Shutdown’s Impact on Current Dredging

It’s not immediately clear how the government shutdown will affect Army Corps employees supervising the job. Technically, the Corps is “military,” but many Corps engineers and project managers are civilian employees. The Corps may have listed its inspectors as emergency personnel since the West Fork was an emergency project. However, the Corps’ information office did not return emails to verify that. Holiday vacations likely caused the lack of response. But if the shutdown does affect Corps inspectors, contractors may experience delays at some point.

Possible Impact on Mouth-Bar Project

A bigger question: how the shutdown will affect consideration and approval of Mouth Bar dredging. Readers may remember that at a meeting in Austin on October 11, all agencies involved reportedly gave conditional approval to the mouth bar project subject to a favorable environmental report and the location of a suitable disposal site. After two and a half months, the project still has not been approved. City officials are hopeful that the project could be approved before the end of April when contractors should begin demobilizing from the current job. Remobilizing could cost another $18 million if FEMA or Congress does not approve an extension of the current project that includes the Mouth Bar.

Sources are hard to find between Christmas and New Years. Hopefully, we will have an update from City Hall and greater clarity when people return to work after New Years.

All of this underscores the need for more urgency and timeliness in government decision making, in my opinion. Harvey happened 16 months ago.

Posted by Bob Rehak on December 26, 2018

484 Days since Hurricane Harvey