Every day, thousands of vessels move people, animals, and products across the country via the nation's rivers and harbors. This water traffic is a vital component of the nation's economy. One of the Corps primary missions is to ensure that this traffic can move safely, reliably, and efficiently and with minimal impact on the environment. Supporting navigation by maintaining and improving channels was the Corps of Engineers' earliest Civil Works mission, dating to federal laws in 1824.
The Corps' primary navigation responsibilities include planning and constructing new navigation channels and locks and dams, and dredging to maintain channel depths at U.S. harbors and on inland waterways.
The Corps operates and maintains 25,000 miles of navigable channels and 196 commercial lock and dam sites and is responsible for ports and waterways in 41 states. In partnership with local port authorities, Corps personnel oversee dredging and construction projects at hundreds of ports and harbors at an average annual cost of nearly $1.5 billion. The Corps dredges nearly 300 million cubic yards of material each year to keep the nation's waterways navigable. Much of this dredged material is reused for environmental restoration projects including the creation of wetlands.
Here in South Carolina, Charleston District’s most active navigation project is Charleston Harbor, where our Operation and Maintenance program dredges 2-3 million cubic yards of material each year to maintain the harbor. The District also has responsibility for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Georgetown Harbor, and four other small harbors along the coast.