Workshop to focus on aging coastal infrastructure in the Great Lakes

A scoping workshop on the current condition and future viability of coastal protection infrastructure in the Great Lakes will be held October 10 and 11, 2007 in Duluth. The workshop, hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and the NOAA Coastal Services Center with participation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, will focus on such coastal structures as piers and breakwaters, many of which are aging and showing signs of deterioration.

According the Corps of Engineers, over half of the coastal structures on the Great Lakes were built before World War I and over 80 percent are older than their typical 50-year design life span. The oldest structures were built with timber crib core sections which deteriorate more rapidly when exposed to air during periods of low lake levels. One objective of the workshop will be to identify potential impacts of climate change, for which most models project long term low water levels for the Great Lakes.

Looking ahead, the workshop will take initial steps to explore new strategies for maintaining infrastructure no longer considered a federal budgetary priority.

The “Great Lakes Coastal Infrastructure Scoping Workshop” will be held at the Canal Park Lodge in Duluth (, 218-279-6000) where a block of rooms has been reserved.

The workshop will include sessions from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 10 focusing on Great Lakes climate change scenarios and the current status of Great Lakes coastal protection infrastructure. Oct. 11 sessions from 8 a.m. to noon will include perspectives from non-federal stakeholders including states, municipalities and commercial and recreational navigation interests. The sessions will end with a forward-looking discussion on strategic directions.

Following the workshop, a Duluth-Superior harbor tour by boat will be offered to provide a first hand look at several examples of harbor infrastructure issues including deteriorating timber, concrete and steel structures. Of special interest will be examples of the widespread, accelerated corrosion damage to sheet steel piling in the harbor which is currently under intensive investigation.

Space at the workshop is limited so registrations will be accepted on a first come- first served basis. There is no cost to attend the workshop.

To register contact Dave Knight at the Great Lakes Commission by email at, telephone at 734-971-9135, or fax at 734-971-9150.

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