Klobuchar Dedicated to Strengthening Great Lakes Ports

By KBJR News 1

April 30, 2013 Updated Apr 30, 2013 at 6:12 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Duluth–Superior harbor is the largest shipping port on the Great Lakes, but low water levels have created some challenges for the shipping industry.

"Something like 10 percent of them can't be loaded because of the fact that the water is too shallow, not right here in Duluth, but in other ports and other places along the great lakes," said US Senator Amy Klobuchar.

This has taken a toll on companies like Great Lakes Fleet, who have had to decrease their loads by 15 percent.

"We have a 1,000 footer which just loaded yesterday. She normally could load...if there were channels are their full depth, water levels at their normal levels, we could load say 70,000 tons. But that ship loaded 60,000 tons which is about a 15 percent reduction in her capacity," said Gregg Ruhl Managing Director of Great Lakes Fleet.

Sen.l Klobuchar wants to use part of the $7 billion in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to dredge the shipping channels throughout the Great Lakes.

"We just want $200 million for the Great Lakes, Duluth and Two Harbors tend to fair pretty well because they are such active and deep ports, so that hasn't been so much of the issues as with some of the other ports along the great lakes, but we get hurt if we can't maximize the capacity of our ships," she said.

The Senator also says the money in the fund was put there by shippers who pay into the fund based on their shipping volume.

"This is not only important to Minnesota but to all the states along the great lakes, to Indiana to Michigan, to Illinois," added Klobuchar.

The Water Resources Development Act, which would provide funding for upkeep of the Great Lakes ports, is up for discussion during this session of Congress.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.