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October 29, 2008

Intracoastal Waterway Conference takes regional focus

AIWA meeting slated for November 20 and 21, Jacksonville, FL

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association (AIWA) will examine the importance of the waterway to the entire southeastern U.S. at its annual meeting on November 20 - 21 in Jacksonville, FL. The meeting, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, will focus on new regional strategies to maintain and promote this vital transportation link.

Stretching over 1,200 miles from Norfolk, VA, to Miami, FL, the waterway has been called "the boater's Route 66," but it is also a vital commercial transportation route that could be much better utilized to move cargo along the eastern seaboard and relieve highway congestion, according to AIWA.

Two challenges face the waterway today: minimal Congressional appropriations for maintenance and an awkward federal budgeting process that fails to recognize the waterway as an asset for waterborne commerce and recreational vessel traffic along the Eastern Seaboard.

The conference begins on Thursday, Nov. 20, with reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged by Congress with maintaining the waterway. As in past years, each of the five Corps district offices that manage the waterway will present overviews of channel conditions and the coming year's maintenance plans. But then the conference will shift to a region-wide focus in keeping with this year's theme, "Can Regionalism Save the Waterway?"

This "big picture" focus will examine issues like sediment management to prevent channel shoaling and waterway economics from a regional perspective. Strategy sessions for continued maintenance funding from state, federal, and other potential sources round out the program. More information, plus on-line conference registration, is available at http://www.Atlintracoastal.org or by phone at: 877-414-5397.