HOUMA, LA (WVUE) - The Port of Terrebonne is always dredging the Houma Navigational Canal to keep it at the right level, but that upkeep can add up. The port is hoping some changes will help find more funding for the ongoing project.
When the Houma Navigational Canal isn't at it's proper depth, things more expensive for shipyards like La Ship.
“Depending on the depth, the Vessel has to be towed out and the cost can be hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Danny Vedros.
“I like to consider it our main artery here in Terrebonne,” said David Rabalais, the director at the Port of Terrebonne. Rabalais says the silt from currents build up in the Houma Navigational Canal. The port tries to keep it at 15 feet. Any lower and companies who depend on it run into trouble.
“We have companies that do a lot of repair work that can't get vessels in and out because its at 12 to 13 feet,” said Rabalais. “So every year we need to get a maintenance dredge.”
It's why the port says it needs more funding to set up a consistent maintenance plan for the canal. Each port in the U.S. is ranked by how much material it moves. Port of Terrebonne is number 86 out of 150. But it has plans in place to improve that standing.
“The education to the rest of the industry to report cargo is going to be a big push,” said Rabalais. “Getting to report things like seafood which we have a lot of and ship a lot of will help our ranking.”
A better ranking means more federal funding to put towards dredging. It's what companies like La Ship want to hear.
“I would be a blessing to know you don't have to wait for the tide or certain times to move vessels around. You could just do it at free will,” said Vedros.
The port is also working towards dredging the canal to 20 feet. Right now, the government is still studying the idea, but the port says it would help accommodate the bigger off-shore oil ships it's seeking more of around Houma.