Rep. DeFazio Announces Funding for Critical Repairs to Port Orford’s Failed Breakwater
Today, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4) announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will allocate up to $6.5 million in funding this year to address Port Orford’s much-needed repairs for its port’s failed breakwater.
“This is excellent news for Port Orford,” said DeFazio. “This community relies on the port as its economic engine, and fixing the breakwater is essential to its success. For too long Port Orford has been overlooked by the Corps. Due to years of storms, the breakwater system is in need of serious repair, and without annual dredging continued shoaling creates an extremely dangerous situation. I applaud the Army Corps for including this essential funding in its Work Plan.”
In February 2018, DeFazio sent a letter to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army Corps requesting that funds for Port Orford be included in the Corps’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Work Plan. The FY18 Work Plan released on June 7 did not include funding to repair the breakwater system. On July 5,, the Corps announced that additional projects, including Port Orford’s breakwater, would be added the FY18 Work Plan because additional disaster assistance funding was made available by Congress through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
The Port of Garibaldi will also receive funding to address critical repairs needed to maintain safety over the bar at Tillamook Bay’s South Jetty.
A full copy of that letter can be found below.
February 1, 2018
Mr. Ryan A. Fischer
Acting Assistant Secretary
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20310-0108
Dear Mr. Fischer:
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. 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.
 Port Orford Breakwater Site Inspection Report, 23 July 2014.