A Watershed Election

The last blog of 2016 entitled "A Watershed Election," written by our own MWRA member, Jeff Ballweber. 
Many thanks to all who performed their civic duty by voting last month.  Regardless of the outcome, the election would herald in a new administration after 8 years under President Obama.  However, the election reflected what may be a watershed event for the federal government as President-elect Trump rode into office vowing to “Drain the Swamp”.  Before getting caught up in all this Presidential change, we should stop to look at the important tasks facing the 114th Congress in its waning days.  First off Congress must take action to keep the federal government running after the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on December 9, 2016.  Secondly, Congress has the opportunity to act on the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 before it adjourns.
At this time, things are still very fluid but it appears that Congress is on track to adopt another CR to keep the government running through April 28, 2017.  That will give the new Congress the opportunity to work with President-elect Trump to enact appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year.  Similarly, it looks like the Senate and House conferees have reported out a WRDA bill to send to both houses for a vote.  To get a digital copy of the Conference Committee bill go to:  Passage of the compromise bill isn’t guaranteed but it does look promising. 

Returning to Presidential issues, its important to remember that the President cannot simply overturn legislation without Congressional action; however, it will be very interesting to see how agencies interpret and enforce regulations under President-elect Trump’s administration.  Similarly, it will be important to track which agency or agencies are selected to implement President-elect Trump’s promised major new infrastructure investment program.  Regardless of how these activities play out over the next four years; Mississippi’s ports and water managers should dust off and update their strategic plans to prepare for what could be a very interesting sea change in Washington, DC.  


Waterways increasingly important to national freight network

By Pamela Glass for WorkBoat
A new report that looks at investment needed to improve freight transportation underscores the importance of using marine highways and inland ports as part of a national intermodal transportation network.
“Containers are only one important aspect of a much bigger picture impacting ports and coastal states,” according to “The State of Freight II” report, released Tuesday by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). “Interior ports continue to transport and support tremendous movements.”
The report comes one year after Congress passed the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) which for the first time made dedicated freight funding a priority and authorized $11 billion in spending on multiple transportation modes.
The report seeks to be a “blueprint for state DOTs, Congress and the new [Trump] administration to address the critical freight infrastructure needs of our nation,” AASHTO President and MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday.
We hope you have enjoyed the first part of this important article about the importance of the inland ports and river systems to freight movement. 
Finish reading the article on


MIC-MWRA Board Meeting & Dinner


 A block of rooms have been reserved for February 8, 2017 - February 9, 2017. 

The special room rate will be available until January 20th or until the group block is sold-out, whichever comes first.

To make your reservation click here.

To pay for dinner by credit card click here.


Wildlife Mississippi Dedicates Natural Area in Rankin County

Plans are unveiled for an urban wildlife area in honor of
Mississippi’s Mother Nature, Fannye Cook.

Jackson, Miss.—Wildlife Mississippi, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and unveiled plans today for Mississippi’s largest urban natural area. The site was named for Fannye Cook, a pioneer conservationist and scientist in Mississippi. She was the driving force behind the creation of the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission (now called the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks) and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

"We greatly appreciate the confidence that the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have placed in Wildlife Mississippi to not only be the stewards of this wonderful property but to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to generations of Mississippians to come," said George Walker III, president of Wildlife Mississippi. "And it is especially fitting that this area be named after Ms. Fannye Cook, the pioneer of wildlife conservation in Mississippi.”

At today’s event, Commissioner Dick Hall, chairman, Mississippi Transportation Commission,
 officially transferred ownership of the natural area in Rankin County to Wildlife Mississippi and presented Walker with the land deed to the property, which borders the Pearl River and covers approximately 2,700 acres.
 In 2009, MDOT purchased the property from International Paper for the purpose of establishing a new mitigation bank to offset unavoidable losses of wetlands incurred during road construction projects in the Pearl River Basin. The bank will support the widening of the State Route 25 and other projects in the basin.

“There are several positive factors that come with the decision to transfer this land to Wildlife Mississippi,” Hall said. “First, there’s no chance it will cost state taxpayers any more money. Second, the land will continue to help with flood relief for the City of Flowood and continue benefiting several projects in the Jackson-Metro area.”

Plans unveiled by Wildlife Mississippi detail how the property will be used for recreational purposes including kayaking, canoeing, walking/hiking, bird watching and environmental education. The City of Jackson receives most of its drinking water from the Pearl River, and maintaining the site as a natural area will help protect the quality of the river’s water. It is the largest protected natural floodplain habitat in the Jackson-Metro.

The property is more than three times larger than New York City’s Central Park and is among the top 20 largest urban green spaces east of the Mississippi River. Several imperiled species live on or near the site, and more than 820,000 people live within 60 miles of the site, which is easily reachable from its entrance off of Lakeland Drive in Flowood.

Cook began the first comprehensive effort to collect and catalog the plants and animals of Mississippi in the 1920s and continued this work until her death in 1964. She traveled the state at her own expense to campaign for a statewide wildlife conservation program. As a result of these efforts, the Mississippi Legislature created the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission in 1932.

“We believe that the best way to honor Fannye Cook is by following her example,” said Libby Hartfield, Wildlife Mississippi’s Fannye Cook Natural Area Coordinator. “She believed that Mississippians needed access to natural habitats and the wildlife they support so they would come to respect and cherish nature’s gifts that we all inherit. This property has the incredible advantage of being accessible to more than 800,000 people within an hour’s drive.”


Fines for not reporting tonnages

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August 30, 2016:
Did you know there is a $5,000 fine for not reporting your tonnage to the Institute for Water Resources?
Please find a letter I received detailing the fines here.
It states, "that owners, agents, master, and clerks of vessels and other craft plying upon the navigable waters of the United States, and all individuals and corporations engaged in transporting their own goods upon the navigable waters of the United States shall furnish such statements relative to vessels, passengers, freight, and tonnage as may be required by the Secretary of the Army..."
It further reads, "All information and data sent... is required to be held in confidence and will not be released outside of the federal government in order to maintain the confidentiality of proprietary information" Failure to provide statements required are subject to the following penalties:
  • For each and every offense, a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two months.
  • A civil penalty of up to $2,500 per violation.
  • Denial of passage through locks and canals.
If you are unsure if you should be reporting, I would like to share with you the below information IRPT published in February of 2015. I encourage you to take a look at the ENG forms as well.
IRPT Members can log on to their account to view the tonnage reporting webinar using the drop-down box.
If you are still unsure whether you should be reporting, you can contact me directly or of course, contact the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center at (504) 862-1414.
Aimee Andres
Executive Director
Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc.
One Confluence Way
East Alton, IL 62024
Phone (618) 468-3010
Rediscover the strength of America’s Inland Rivers
On February 11th, 2015:
Good afternoon,
If you missed the January webinar for tonnage reporting, Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals will host a second webinar on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm central time. 
  • Do you own a barge?
  • Do you lease a barge?
  • Do you dredge materials either for channel maintenance or mining purposes?
If you answered yes to any of the above, are you reporting accurately?
The tonnages are required to be reported by the shipper via vessel operation reports (VORs). There are 4 ENG Forms available for monthly reporting.
  • ENG 3925:  Statement of Freight and Passengers Carried, submitted principally by operators of deep-draft vessels.
  • ENG 3925B:  Optional Form for Use by inland and intracoastal operators in lieu of ENG Form 3925.
  • ENG 3925C:  For reporting movements of CONTAINERIZED CARGO
  • ENG 3925P:  Optional form for use by passenger vessel operators in lieu of ENG Form 3925 for reporting movements of passengers
In addition, terminal operators can voluntarily submit dock receipts via ENG 3926.
Please join us for a free webinar regarding tonnage reporting on the inland waterways.
The Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center, a division of the Army Corps of Engineers will outline the specifics of who, what , where, when and why of reporting tonnages shipped on the inland waterways.


MWRA 2016 Annual Mississippi Water Conference

Welcome to the MWRA’s inaugural water blog.  I will do my best to provide timely and meaningful information on events of interest to Mississippi’s water management community. 

We just wrapped up our annual Mississippi Water Conference.  MWRA’s Conference is intended to promote fellowship between Mississippi’s diverse water family and to strengthen and expand personal and professional networks and relationships.  This year we tried something new and returned to something old with the conference.  For the first time we had two parallel tracks of speakers one for water management and the other for ports.  On the waterside, we returned to our roots so to speak by inviting some of federal and state agencies that either regulate, monitor or provide technical and financial assistance relevant to water resources management and development.  Our first session, moderated by Dr. Jonathan Pote from Mississippi State University had speakers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to provide a broad, general overview of their non-regulatory, water programs.  Mr. Jamie Crawford from the Pickering Firm, Inc. moderated the second session, which got us down to the project level with presentations from the U.S. Geological Survey, MDEQ’s Dam Safety Program and NRCS’s Watershed Rehabilitation Program.  I moderated the final session which was a roundtable evaluation of the new, old approach selection of topics and speakers.  One topic that came up was the possibility of MWRA partnering with a water district or levee board  to organize a smaller, more focused river basin workshop to engage county and municipal leaders to discuss their water concerns and try to transform them into viable project ideas.  Also, planning for the 2017 Conference will begin before you know it.  Please share your thoughts and suggestions for topics or speakers for the 2017 Conference with us.

Jeff Ballweber
Special Projects Director, 
Pickering Firm



Dear MWRA Members: 

This is our very first blog as we strive to bring you useful information concerning ports, water management districts and levees. We will try and post a blog every ten days, written by various guest authors. This blog's author directed the Port Security Grant Program at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters and he administered over one billion dollars in PSG funds.  We will let you know the topic of each blog in advance. 

Best to All, 

Deirdre McGowan, 
MWRA Executive Director.


The PSGP directly supports maritime transportation infrastructure security activities.  PSGP is one tool in the comprehensive set of measures authorized by Congress and implemented by the Administration to strengthen the Nation’s critical infrastructure against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks.

The vast majority of U.S. maritime critical infrastructure is owned and operated by state, local, and private sector maritime industry partners.  PSGP funds available to these entities are intended to improve port-wide maritime security risk management; enhance maritime domain awareness; support maritime security training and exercises; and to maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.  PSGP investments must address Coast Guard and Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC) identified vulnerabilities in port security and support the prevention, detection, response, and/or recovery from attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IED) and other non-conventional weapons.

Pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, as amended (MTSA),  Section 102, 70101 thru 70117, the Department of Homeland Security, (DHS)  established a risk based grant program to support maritime security risk management.  Funding is directed towards the implementation of Area Maritime Security Plans (AMSP) and Facility Security Plans (FSP) among port authorities, facility operators, and state and local government agencies that are required to provide port security services.  In administering the grant program, national, economic, energy, and strategic defense concerns based upon the most current risk assessments available were considered.

Ferry systems were eligible to participate in the FY 2016 PSGP.  However, any ferry system that participated and accepted awards under the FY 2016 PSGP are not eligible for the FY 2016 Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP).  Likewise, any ferry systems that applied for funding under TSGP are not considered for funding under the PSGP.

By law, DHS must direct these funds to the Nation’s highest risk ports.  Eligible entities within other Port Areas covered by an AMSP are also able to apply for PSGP funds.

Eligibility - The following entities are encouraged to participate in the Port Security Grant Program:
     Owners or operators of federally regulated terminals, facilities, U.S. inspected passenger vessels or ferries as defined in the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Parts 101, 104, 105, 106.
     Members of an AMSC, per 33 C.F.R. Part 103, who are recognized as such by the USCG Captain of the Port (COTP) and are required to provide port security services.  Specifically eligible applicants include port authorities, port police, local law enforcement agencies, port and local fire departments, and facility fire brigades that have jurisdictional authority to respond to incidents in the port.

Taking all of the above into consideration there are some very simple and easy steps to follow in order to be both eligible for and receive a PSG:

1. Become an active member of the Area Maritime Security Advisory Committee

2. Join the U. S. Coast Guard’s HOMEPORT network.

3. Download and read and re-read the current Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Program Guidelines

4. Designate one (1) person within your organization to draft the application, coordinate the proposed project’s outline, budget, engineering drawings, construction timeline and to comply with the application submission deadline  requirements. This individual must have access to your corporate CEO, CFO, and any and all impacted Department Heads. This extensive “Team” must be fully apprised of the timelines involved and the need for their timely response to any inquiries, and/or items needed for the application package, and submission upload.

5. Read and re-read the current Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Guidelines.

6. Download all forms off the FEMA website specifically the Investment Justification (IJ) budget, Environmental Historical Preservation (EHP) and start completing them on day one. Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP)Fact Sheet

7. Do NOT wait till the last day to submit the application to the web site. (With so much traffic, historically the site either crashes or fails to provide you with an acknowledgement of the application’s submission. Either way—your time and efforts are wasted and your grant will not be reviewed.

8. Become an active member of your Area Maritime Security Committee.

9. Read and re-read the current Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Guidelines.

10. Do NOT wait till the last day to submit the application to the web site.

Yes, you read the ten (10) steps correctly!

Your first administrative step should be to review the prior Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Program Guidelines and associated documents at:   and to further review the specific projects that are the current year’s priority to see if your project is within the parameters of the current year’s priorities:

Once you have downloaded each of the required documents  become familiar with what each requires.   If the information is not within your purview locate who within your entities'  structure has access, knowledge, and gain their support in your efforts.

Eligible applicants must submit their initial application through the portal at Applicants in need of support should contact the customer support hotline at (800) 518-4726.

Eligible applicants will be notified by FEMA and asked to proceed with submitting their complete application package in the Non Disaster (ND) Grants System.  Applicants in need of technical support with the ND Grants System should contact or (800) 865-4076.

If you have questions regarding the application process, contact the FEMA Grant Program Directorate Call Center at (866) 927-5646

Remember, the deadline for submission of the Grant Application package will be announced and strictly complied with.   The deadline will be 11:59 p.m. EDT on the date specified.    Again, DO NOT wait till the last day, nor the last hour to submit your project!

The application process is protracted, time-consuming, aggravating and frustrating, yet once the grant submission has been approved, and funding authorized you will welcome the new tasks of contracting and ensuring that the project is completed within the requisite  thirty-six (36) month timeline.  

I hope that the above has provided you with some insights, and has helped direct you on your way toward making an application for a Port Security Grant Program funded project.

John Marks

About the Author:
John Marks is a retired U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Captain.   Post retirement he was recalled to active duty at Coast Guard Headquarters where he was assigned as the Coast Guard’s Port Security Grant Program’s Project Manager during this two year period he oversaw the allocation and awarding of one point one billion tax dollars within the Port Security Grant Program.


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