Capitol Currents Newsletter

A Tale of Two Budgets: FY21 Budget vs. FY20 Workplan

March 3, 2020

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Capitol Currents Newsletter
March 3, 2020

This is a text-only version of Waterways Council’s newsletter, Capitol Currents.  To read the full PDF version, including all images, please click here.


TA Tale of Two Budgets: FY20 Work Plan, President’s FY21 Budget

JUST LIKE THE CLASSIC NOVEL TALE OF TWO CITIES, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” as the inland waterways faced a tale of two budgets last month.   

On February 10, the Trump Administration released its FY21 budget numbers, cutting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works budget by 22%, to $5.967 billion, a $1.7 billion decrease from the FY20 enacted level.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the President’s FY21 budget was a request of $0 from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) (FY20’s request was $111 million for the Lower Mon project of which $55.5 million came from the IWTF). Congress appropriated $335 million for four IWTF-funded projects in the FY20 Energy & Water Development (E&WD) appropriations bill that enabled efficient funding for Kentucky Lock, Chickamauga Lock, and funding to completion for the Lower Mon Project and Olmsted Locks and Dam.  If the President’s FY21 budget were to be accepted, these four construction projects would shut down, workers would be sent home, and the cost to restart the projects would be significant.  

The FY21 budget also proposes to establish a new user fee to supplement existing revenue from the $0.29-per-gallon diesel fuel tax that commercial operators pay to help finance capital investment projects, plus 10% of the cost of Operations and Maintenance (O&M), a fully Federal responsibility.  The Administration anticipates this fee would raise $1.8 billion over 10 years.

The FY21 budget also proposes $1.996 billion for O&M, and $210 million for the Mississippi Rivers & Tributaries (MR&T) account.  The Investigations account is proposed to receive $102.6 million in FY21, with $3.292 million going toward Pre-Construction Engineering and Design (PED) for the Three Rivers Project in Arkansas.  Within the Construction account, the Mississippi River Ship Channel, Gulf to Baton Rouge, LA, will receive $45.7 million.

The FY21 budget proposes $1.015 billion derived from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

But on the same day as the FY21 budget release, the Corps of Engineers released its FY20 work plan for allocating funds provided in the FY20 E&WD Appropriations bill toward its civil works mission and the news was extremely positive.

A highlight was $4.5 million provided for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway System to continue PED ($3 million was provided for navigation and $1.5 million for the environmental restoration component of NESP).  This is the first allocation of PED funds for NESP since 2012.

FY20 funding from the Construction account was $336.76 million (representing full and efficient funding from the IWTF) was allocated to Olmsted: $63 million to complete the project; Lower Mon 2, 3, 4 Project: $111 million to complete the project; Chickamauga:  $101.7 million; and Kentucky Lock: $61.06 million.  In other good news, $85.35 million was slated to initiate construction of deepening the Mississippi River Ship Channel, Gulf to Baton Rouge, to 50 feet.

The Investigations account will fund $6.05 million to continue PED for the Three Rivers Project (Arkansas) and $7.7 million to continue PED for the Upper Ohio River Navigation Study (Pennsylvania).

The FY20 Work plan also provided strong funding for the inland waterways system’s dredging needs.

Deb Calhoun Named WCI Interim President/CEO

The Executive Committee of Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) has named Deb Calhoun (former WCI Senior Vice President) as WCI Interim President/CEO, effective February 18, 2020.  WCI President/CEO Michael J. Toohey recently announced his retirement.

To begin the process to select a permanent President/CEO, Executive Search Firm Korn Ferry has been retained.

Ms. Calhoun has been with WCI since its founding in 2003, and with its predecessor organization Waterways Work!, and has been instrumental in managing WCI’s overall portfolio and communicating its successes and priorities.  Serving the industry for more than 25 years, Ms. Calhoun was President/CEO of a maritime consultancy practice, Director of Public Affairs at the American Waterways Operators, and was recently awarded the 2019 National Rivers Hall of Fame National Achievement Award.  WCI’s Vice President - Government Relations Tracy Zea will manage the organization’s legislative affairs program, and relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Inland Waterways Users Board.  WCI’s Vice President – Midwest Region Paul Rohde will continue to manage WCI’s stakeholder and city/state/regional issues portfolio and its social media efforts.  Medina Moran will continue to serve as WCI’s Executive Assistant to manage the administrative work and meetings of the association.

“WCI is fortunate to have a very experienced, dedicated management team for this transition, and our priorities and WCI’s 2020 vision remain the same.  We will continue to communicate developments as we move forward in the process to select a permanent President/CEO,” said Peter Stephaich, WCI Chairman of the Board.


WCI Members, Others Lead the Charge for Waterways at Washington Meetings 2020

More than 100 WCI members and participants came to the national’s capital for WCI’s 2020 Washington Meetings, February 12-14.  The WCI Board of Directors met on February 12, and political prognosticator Charlie Cook provided the keynote address at the Waterways Seminar on the same day.  More than 110 Capitol Hill meetings took place on February 13 for members to convey WCI’s priorities for WRDA 2020 and FY21 appropriations. A Capitol Hill reception was held that evening for Hill staffers and Members of Congress.  WCI’s Membership Development and Retention Committee and National Waterways Foundation met on February 14.


By the Numbers…  1,148

...The number of  emails sent to House and Senate offices during our Washington, DC meetings as part of our virtual fly-in for those who were not able to join us in Washington for the in-person fly-in.  Thanks for the supports!

Corps of Engineers Remains on Track for Illinois Waterway Closures in 2020

By Thomas Heinold, Project Manager, Rock Island District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


The Corps remains on track for the July 2020 planned closure for the Illinois Waterway (ILWW) maintenance effort following the impacts of last season’s flooding, and the LaGrange Major Rehabilitation contractor has reverted to the original schedule.

The Corps has contractors on board for sill and anchorage work at Starved Rock and Marseilles Locks, and for the bulkhead recess installation work at Dresden Island.  Miter gates and other fabrications are also underway and on schedule, and the Corps anticipates being able to accomplish necessary work at Peoria Lock too.

At Brandon Road Lock, the Corps had to postpone the bulkhead recess installation effort due to a combination of limited construction contractor capacity after not receiving any bids for the bulkhead recess work and the lack of timely funding. Even if bids were received, the Corps did not have enough FY20 funding in place to award a contract in time to mobilize or to fabricate and deliver long-lead-time items.  That work has been rescheduled to precede the next round of closures at Dresden Island and Brandon Road in 2023.

All said, five of the eight locks on the ILWW will be closed at the same time beginning this summer.  While the FY20 Work Plan did not include all the funding requested for the Illinois Waterway 2020 Consolidated Closures effort, the Corps is working with its Operations and Programs staff on options.  But as of now, everything remains full speed ahead and as planned.

The Corps’ Rock Island District website continues to include the most up-to-date information on the IWW Closures.  Visit 


WCI Member Spotlight:  Enterprise Marine Services LLC

Enterprise Marine Services LLC (“EMS”), founded in 2007, is the marine subsidiary of Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE: “EPD”) and is the newest member of Waterways Council, Inc. EMS operates a fleet of U.S. Coast Guard-compliant hazardous liquid and liquefied petroleum gas inland tank barges and towing vessels on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), as well as the Mississippi River system and its tributaries.  EMS primarily transports bulk petroleum liquid cargos, specializing in the transportation of petrochemicals, refined products, crude, and pressurized products.

With an average vessel life of 12 years, EMS operates one of the youngest fleets in the industry out of two shipyard facilities. The Houma, LA facility is strategically located at the junction of ICW and the Houma Navigational Intersection, and provides gas free services, barge dry dock services, and topside vessel repairs. The Morgan City, LA facility, located on the east side of the Bayou Bouef Locks, offers dry dock services for tug and barge repairs.

Led by President Tim Moss and Senior Director of Marine Operations Eric Ricker, EMS focuses its operations on the core responsibilities of health and safety, environmental protection and quality, consistent with the company’s Goal Zero philosophy.  Enterprise believes that all incidents are preventable and the only acceptable goal is zero.  

The company’s commitment to protecting the public, employees and the environment is most notable through EMS’s Safety Management System, one of the first to be approved and certified by the American Bureau of Shipping as meeting or exceeding USCG Subchapter M Regulations requirements. The system, which is OCIMF TMSA 3-compliant, is successfully audited by EMS’s major energy customers, and continually evaluated and revised through employee feedback, audits, near-miss reporting, and incident investigations.

“Our founder, Dan Duncan, said, ‘Do the best you can every day,’ so we live by that,” said President Tim Moss.  “We continually expand our fleet, equipping vessels with state-of-the-art technology to ensure our mariners have the best tools available for the safest and most efficient operations,” he continued. “We are proud to join WCI and its distinguished membership ranks,” he said.

Visit Enterprise at


Senator Jim Inhofe Honored with WCI 19th Annual Leadership Service Award

On February 13, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) received WCI’s 19th Annual Leadership Service Award for his leadership and commitment to America’s inland waterways.

“Waterways are a vital and often unseen mode of our nation’s infrastructure,” Senator Inhofe said. “I am proud to highlight how waterways complement road and bridge infrastructure, driving economic expansion and job growth in communities across Oklahoma that will last for years to come. Just look at the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) in my state of Oklahoma: The MKARNS is a key inland waterway navigation system extending from Tulsa and Muskogee, Oklahoma, through Arkansas, to the Mississippi River. It is responsible for employing more than 55,000 individuals and plays a vital role in the economic activity not only in Oklahoma, but in 11 other states as well. Thank you to WCI for recognizing me with this prestigious award. Your work on behalf of America’s waterways does not go unnoticed,” he said. 


Inland Waterways Users Board Ruffs It At Robert S. Kerr L&D

On February 18, the Inland Waterways Users Board toured the Robert S. Kerr Lock and Dam on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) before its 93rd meeting the next day.






     Campbell Transportation Co.

     Canal Barge Company

     CGB, Inc.

     Ingram Barge Company

     Kirby Corporation

     Marathon Petroleum Corporation




     AEP River Transportation

     Carlisle & Bray Marine

     CRounse Corporation

     Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association

     Illinois Corn Growers Association

     Parker Towing Company

     Port of Pittsburgh Commission




     Amherst Madison

     Camelot Coal Company

     Cooper Group of Companies

     Harbor Towing/Star Fleet

     International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers


     Marquette Transportation Company

     McNational, Inc.

     National Corn Growers Association

     Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Co.

     Southern Towing Company

     St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council

     Upper River Services, LLC


A special thank you for the generous support of our industry sponsors of the WCI Washington, DC meetings!


WCI Annual Meeting and Waterways Symposium 2020: Why Las Vegas?

By Peter Stephaich, WCI Chairman of the Board

As folks plan their 2020 calendars, the WCI Annual Meeting and 17th Annual Waterways Symposium lie ahead November 11-13, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.  A number of members and would-be attendees have asked me as Chairman, “Why Las Vegas?  There’s no inland waterway there?!”  This is true, we have not forgotten our geography!  

There are a number of reasons why we have chosen Las Vegas for the next WCI meetings and here are just a few:

--One of WCI’s valued members is the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, where skilled training of workers is the union’s hallmark. While these workers may have differing skills sets, they all share the pride and commitment of being highly trained in the most up-to-date theories and methodologies, tools, installation procedures, and safety measures.  Located just outside Las Vegas is the Carpenters International Training Center (ITC), a member-owned world-class facility designed and constructed to develop and improve the skills of its members. WCI will hold its special evening event at the ITC and we look forward to learning more about this state-of-the-art center that contributes to building infrastructure on the waterways.  Special thanks to Kyle Makarios, Political Director for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, for his help in planning our event there.

--The Hoover Dam is located around 38 miles from Las Vegas and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Hoover Dam website, “is a testimony to a country’s ability to construct monolithic projects in the midst of adverse conditions. Built during the Depression, thousands of men and their families came to Black Canyon to tame the Colorado River. It took less than five years, in a harsh and barren land, to build the largest dam of its time. Now, years later, Hoover Dam still stands as a world-renowned structure. The Dam is a National Historic Landmark and has been rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders.”  WCI may also explore planning a private tour of the Dam for WCI members and guests attending the Annual Meeting and Symposium.

--WCI has held its Annual Meeting and Symposia in just about every river city since its inception in 2003, and feedback from our members suggests it’s time for a change.

-- According to, on average, attendance increases eight percent when meetings and conventions are held in Las Vegas.  With approximately 150,000 rooms, Las Vegas offers the best group value proposition in the world.  With over 1,000 inbound and outbound flights per day and nonstop service from more than 130 U.S. and international cities, Las Vegas is also easy on time and budget.

So, yes, WCI is holding its next meeting in a new place, but we will continue to offer an agenda for the Annual Meeting/Board of Directors Meeting that will keep you focused on WCI outcomes and success, develop a Waterways Symposium cadre of speakers that are sure to educate and illuminate, and host special events that will not soon be forgotten.

We hope you will plan to join us in Las Vegas in November, and we look forward to seeing you there.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” —Henry Miller


In Memoriam: Martin B. DeCamp

WCI member company Southwest Shipyard, L.P. CEO Martin B. DeCamp, 53, passed away January 23rd in Houston.  Prior to becoming President of the company in 2017, he served as President and CFO from 2013-2017.

Mr. DeCamp graduated from The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) with a B.A. in Economics in 1992 and in 1996 received his M.B.A. and M.P.A. from UT Austin and began his career in Houston at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He later moved into industry, working at InputOutput, TEAM Inc.

In his youth, Mr. DeCamp was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying windsurfing and mountain biking, as well as camping, scuba diving, picnicking and hiking. He especially loved his getaway fish-camp in Matagorda, TX, where he was the master of ceremonies, always lighting fireworks, playing cribbage and pool, fishing, and cooking with his kids.

He is survived by his wife, Renee, and children, Lily and David.

An intimate celebration of Martin's life will be held at a later date in Austin, TX.  In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up for his kids’ college tuition here.

Parts of this obituary were published in the Houston Chronicle.

Welcome, Rev. Nestlehutt!

The Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) announced on January 23 that Rev. Mark S. Nestlehutt was selected as its new President & Executive Director, effective February 18, 2020.  He succeeds the retiring Rev. David Rider.

With more than two decades of church experience in Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Australia and South Africa, Rev. Nestlehutt joins SCI from Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, PA, where he served as Rector. His previous employment and interests include service as an officer in the U.S. Navy, Director of Planned Giving at Opera Philadelphia, various positions for five years in the field of commercial banking and asset planning as well as playing rugby from 1980-2012. An avid one-design sailor, he spent 12 years as the Rector of Christ Church in St. Michaels, MD, a waterfront community on the Chesapeake Bay where his parishioners were comprised of Chesapeake Bay Pilots, Delaware River Pilots, tugboat captains, ship engineers, students at the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School, and others.

WCI welcomes Rev. Nestlehutt and thanks Rev. Rider for his time, unwavering commitment, energy, and sage counsel to WCI over his esteemed career.


 Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals (IRPT) Launches New Mobile App

Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals (IRPT) has a new Mobile App available that will allow vital information regarding each of the basins to be pushed out to mobile app users. IRPT will collect navigation notices from the U.S. Coast Guard sectors, each Corps district, regional waterway associations and stakeholders and send navigation notices, scheduled and unscheduled Corps’ lock and dam maintenance operations information, as well as emergency notifications.

Visit the app store and search for IRPT to download it. You then have the option to open the app.  This will bring you to IRPT’s home app. Click the menu tab located at the top right corner.  You must log in to receive push notifications regarding navigation notices. Once in the settings menu, choose “Log in” (you will need to register a new account to do so).  Once logged in, back in the settings menu, choose “notifications” and choose which notifications you’d like to receive.

IRPT membership is not required for the app.

Other app features include IRPT history and information, hyperlinked member listing, member news, career opportunities, calendar of events, and contact information.


Industry Calendar

March 5:  WCI Annual Press Briefing, National Press Club (Washington, DC)

March 8-10:  National Grain & Feed Association 124th Annual Convention (Austin, TX)

March 9-11:  National Waterways Conference 2020 Legislative Summit (Washington DC)

April 20-22: Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals Annual Conference (Little Rock)

April 21-23:  American Waterways Operators Spring Convention and Board of Directors Meeting (Washington, DC)

April 21-24: Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association 38th River and Marine Industry Seminar (New Orleans)

May 13-15:  Warrior Tombigbee Waterway Association 2019 Annual Meeting (Point Clear, AL)

May 18-20:  Waterways Journal Sixth Annual Inland Marine Expo 2020 (St. Louis )

November 11-13: WCI Annual Meeting/17th Annual Waterways Symposium (Las Vegas)



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