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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

DeFazio Fights For Funding for Critical Repairs to Port Orford’s Failed Breakwater

Feb 2, 2018
Press Release

This week, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) asked the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to fully fund critical repairs to Port Orford’s failed breakwater after money for these necessary repairs was redirected by the Army Corps to address disaster recovery needs.

“Storm damage, coupled with the fact that the channel and harbor lack annual dredging by the Corps, has created significant obstacles for the fishing community. Without annual dredging, shoals now prevent boats from accessing the ocean and launching except at high tide. This shoaling has also increased wave impact along the dock wall, making launch and retrieval extremely dangerous. Because of the cost of dredging, boat damage, and limited launching caused by shoaling, the breakwater must be modified to alleviate the shoaling problem. … This breakwater modification and repair is vital to the Port of Port Orford. I request that you strongly consider including funding in the Corps FY18 Operations and Maintenance Work Plan to move forward on those repairs,” wrote DeFazio.

The Corps stated in its July 2014 breakwater inspection report that the role that the breakwater plays in encouraging sediment buildup should be evaluated prior to designing a repair of the structure. Thanks to FY17 supplemental funding, the Corps was able to begin drafting plans and specs to repair the breakwater, but the port has recently been told that there is no further funding currently available to move forward with the repairs.  

A full copy of the letter is below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 1, 2018

 

Mr. Ryan A. Fisher

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

108 Army Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20310-0108

 

Dear Mr. Fisher:

It has come to my attention that the Port of Port Orford, Oregon, is no longer scheduled to receive necessary repairs to its breakwater this year, due to Army Corps funds being redirected to disaster assistance.  I write to you asking that you consider including funding to address the repairs needed to Port Orford’s failed breakwater in the Army Corps Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Work Plan.

With a population of just 1,159, the rural coastal community of Port Orford relies on its port as its economic engine. The most recent data (from 2014) of fish landings from Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife show that Port Orford landed 1,363,902 pounds of commercial fish and shellfish, valued at $3.4 million—ranking as the 120th major U.S. port by value landed. While the Port relies primarily on its commercial fishing fleet, it is also host to a marine research industry and range of recreational boating activities.

Prior to the Corps’ construction of the breakwater in 1968, the Port was a deep-water port accommodating up to 400-foot lumber carriers. One year after the breakwater was built, the harbor became shoaled, necessitating emergency congressional authorization for the first dredging of the harbor. Since that time, shoaling has been the biggest obstacle for the Port, due to the unique nature of the crane operated boat launch, and vulnerability to shoaling at this critical dockside location in the harbor.

Additionally, the breakwater has been damaged by repeated storms over the years, but in 2014 Port Orford was hit with a major winter storm consisting of 100 mile per hour winds and waves reaching 40 feet in height. There were even reports of large boulders from the breakwater wall rolling across the cement dry dock. The storm caused drastic damage to port assets and damaged the breakwater to the point where the midsection is now completely breached and unravelling. Storm damage, coupled with the fact that the channel and harbor lack annual dredging by the Corps, has created significant obstacles for the fishing community. Without annual dredging, shoals now prevent boats from accessing the ocean and launching except at high tide. This shoaling has also increased wave impact along the dock wall, making launch and retrieval extremely dangerous.

Because of the cost of dredging, boat damage, and limited launching caused by shoaling, the breakwater must be modified to alleviate the shoaling problem. The Corps stated in its July 2014 breakwater inspection report that the role that the breakwater plays in encouraging sediment deposition should be evaluated prior to designing a repair of the structure.[1] Thanks to FY17 supplemental funding, the Corps was able to begin drafting plans and specs to repair the breakwater, but the port has recently been told that there is no further funding currently available to move forward on performing the repairs.

 This breakwater modification and repair is vital to the Port of Port Orford. I request that you strongly consider including funding in the Corps FY18 Operations and Maintenance Work Plan to move forward on those repairs. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact me or have your staff contact Elizabeth Hill of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Democratic Staff at (202) 225-3274.

           

            Thank you for your consideration of this request.
           

                                                            Sincerely,

 

 

                                                             Peter DeFazio

                                                            Ranking Member

                                   

 

[1] Port Orford Breakwater Site Inspection Report, 23 July 2014.