I recently attended a California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference (CMANC) in San Francisco. They are a gathering of California harbors, ports and marine interest groups. It originated in the 1950’s. The mission of CMANC is to optimize California maritime benefits by providing advocacy for the maintenance and improvement of California harbors, ports and navigation projects. CMANC works with the California legislature and congressional delegation to make sure that California maritime interests are supported by the federal and state government to the greatest extent possible. CMANC address such issues as beach erosion, dredging impact, and taxing policies on navigation, seeking regulatory reforms, and to assure adequate recognition of the importance of commercial navigation, fisheries and water-related recreation. This was my first meeting.
The first presenter was Mark Toy Brigadier General of the Army Corp of Engineers. He is the commanding General for the South Pacific Division. Faced a 25% reduction of staff but still optimistic to be able to do the job. He plans to visit all 27 California Ports and Harbors. The Corps dredge 10million cubic yards annually and remove 1,200 tons of debris from SF Harbor alone!
The first panel discussion was on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL’s) and Dredge Placements. Talk was around Regional Monitoring Programs and whether testing frequency should be considered or averaging period. Lots of threshold numbers were introduced. Beneficial reuse of Dredge materials was another topic with mostly roadblocks such as clean material vs. bad and lack of lands that material can be barged to. Steve Low from the Port of Oakland gave some statistics from his port. They dredge 100,000 cy a year for 2.7 million. Problem is fewer disposal sites and costs are on the rise. Then a presentation is done by the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project in Fremont who needs lots of material! So that should solve issue, right? Nope.
In the afternoon we had a presentation about the replacing of 2 wharves at Redwood City. They removed 850 timber pilings with creosote and replaced with concrete. They addressed Sea Level rise issues by estimating 1.5 feet by 2060 and also accounted on seas surges also. The price adjustments for the inclusion of Sea Level rise mitigation was minimal at $505,000 out of a 16.8 million dollar project.
Later was a update on the damage caused by a recent Hurricane in Mexico to the Long Beach Breakwater. There are actually three separate breakwaters and there was significant damage. This caused all sorts of havoc to the Port of Long Beach. I had no idea.
The next morning the Honorable 24th District Assemblyman Richard Gordon, who is the chair for the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise, gave an update. He is also on the Budget committee and suggested a placeholder in the budget for sea level rise. When the item went to the Senate, they actually funded the item. They are starting a state wide data base to collect information.
The last panel discussed Dredge issues. In San Francisco the cost range for disposal is between $10.55 a cubic yard and $55.67. Options are Alcatraz, ocean and landfills. They dredge 200,000 cy a year. If they were able to use in bay disposal site their cost would be 2.1 million. If they have to do 20/40/40 or 20% in bay 40% ocean based and 40% landfill it would cost 5.4 million. Using the same methodology the cost to move the 3 million cy dredged in all of San Francisco bay it would cost over 80 million dollars! In the past it was 32 million dollars. For pier 39 the next dredge cycle could go from 892,000 to 2.5 million and would put the district in bankruptcy, as they only have 280 slip or lease owners. The Chevron Refinery in Richmond processes nearly ¼ million barrels of oil daily. They supply fuels for 65% of the jets in the bay area and produces 100% of the base oils on the west coast! And they also have dredging issues. Their dredge cost from 2002 to 2012 has more than doubled to 4 million dollars. Doesn’t take a genius to figure those additional costs go to consumers. That would be us!