A public-private partnership between the state, the Port of Lake Charles and local industry will provide $9 million this year to cover the non-federal cost associated with disposing dredged materials along the Calcasieu Ship Channel.
House Bill 1, which outlines the budget for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, includes $3 million for the channel. State lawmakers approved the spending plan on Tuesday before ending a 30-day special legislative session that took place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Bill 845 by Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff, set up the funding formula for the partnership, with the port and the state contributing $3 million each. Certain industries that operate a facility on the ship channel will also contribute funding, based on the number of ships expected at the facility and the facility’s distance from the mouth of the channel.
Dwight’s measure, co-authored by the entire Southwest Louisiana legislative delegation, was approved during the regular spring session and signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards on June 12.
Richert Self, Port of Lake Charles director, said the public-private partnership is a significant step in providing adequate funding for dredge spoils.
“It’s a huge milestone,” he said.
Dwight said the ship channel is “the economic driver of Southwest Louisiana” and is responsible for the region’s industrial expansion and job growth. He said the public-private partnership is a creative way for any channel maintenance costs to be covered by the entities that benefit from it.
Before the public-private partnership, Self said the port was funding the non-federal cost share of the ship channel’s Dredged Material Management Plan.
“The (port) couldn’t keep that up for the future,” Dwight said.
“Until this time, we’ve been putting up all the money,” Self said. “Finally we’re going to get some help.”
For the next year, Gov. Edwards and the Division of Administration have agreed to contribute $5 million in state funding, with the port and industry each contributing $2.5 million.
Dwight’s legislation also creates a three-member Calcasieu Ship Channel Funding Management Board and a seven-member advisory committee.