Altogether, the 140 harbors and channels that comprise the Great Lakes are the fourth largest economic zone in North America. The Great Lakes are also the largest freshwater system in the world. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has the responsibility to operate and maintain these harbors and channels, but turned to a P3 agreement to assist with dredging and accumulated sediment to better maintain the Great Lakes navigable waterways. Dredging is required to construct navigation channels and to maintain depths for safe navigation at existing ports and harbors.
The Corps is looking to the private sector to identify ways to overcome a backlog of maintenance dredging, to find new and innovative uses for dredged material, which is generally treated as a waste product; and to identify new ways to extend the operational life of the 20 confined disposal facilities in the Great Lakes region.