Houston Ship Channel in Dire Need of Dredging Post-Harvey

Image Courtesy: Port of Houston Authority

Houston Ship Channel needs significant dredging to remove tons of silt deposited into the channel as a result of Hurricane Harvey and flooding the storm caused.

Additional relief to properly dredge the channel is required so that it can accommodate normal commerce at its authorized depth and width, Port Commission Chairman of the Port of Houston Authority Janiece Longoria, stressed.

In addition, considerable shoaling has been reported at the entrances of the port’s three major terminals.

“There has been ten feet of sediment collected as a result of massive amounts of floodwater that has carried this silt into the channel,” Chairman Longoria noted. “Again, this seriously restricts commerce to and from our facilities.” 

Port Houston’s two container terminals, Barbours Cut and Bayport together are responsible for nearly 70 percent of the container cargo in the Gulf.

According to a study, conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, a loss of one foot of depth in the channel costs the U.S. economy as much as $281 million dollars per year.

“We must also look at improvements to this waterway that make it more resilient and reduce the impacts of future weather events,” she stressed.

“We believe that rather than just returning the channel to its pre-storm depth and width, we must enhance its efficiency and we must build in resiliency, to make it better for ever-growing demand.”

The Chairman stated also that part of the channel’s recovery is to “harden this asset to make it better for the future,” which may include a channel that is deepened and widened.

The Commission authorized an additional payment not to exceed USD 2 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, the Commission agreed to renew an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to exchange and share information and data in order to enhance maritime safety and security.

  • The channel is open and commerce is flowing with restrictions. As of September 13, the channel opened to maritime traffic but restrictions were imposed as follows:
  • Entrance Channel to Baytown Highlines – maximum 42′;
  • Baytown Highlines to Shell – maximum 41′;
  • Shell to Houston Cement West – maximum 40′;
  • Houston Cement West to Sidney Sherman Bridge – maximum 36′.

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