Coast Guard issues high water advisory

The Coast Guard issued a high water advisory for Berwick Bay when the Atchafalaya River stage reaches 5 feet.

Lt. Jay Michalczak, director of Vessel Traffic Service Berwick Bay, said the Temporary Emergency Vessel Movement Controls will be implemented for Berwick Bay with the following conditions:

—Southbound tows transiting the Morgan City bridges and westbound tows turning into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at mile 98.5 west of Harvey Lock are limited to a maximum tow length of 600 feet.

—Towing vessels equipped with a properly operating bow steering unit and northbound tows through the Morgan City bridges are exempt from the movement controls. Additional deviations may be granted by the Coast Guard on a case-by-case basis to any single towing vessel with 3,000 or more horsepower and to tows with all empty barges.

—All tows remain subject to the Vessel Traffic Service Berwick Bay high water towing limitations.

The Coast Guard also may determine there is a need to close certain waterways contingent on how severe the river height or current reaches to ensure safety on the waterway, prevent hazardous conditions, protect marine environment and minimize loss of property.

Facilities with fleeting operations or permanently-moored barges should review the mooring configuration for their barges to determine if it should be altered or changed based on the high water conditions, Michalczak said. Facilities and owners of vessels are encouraged to ensure that the best methods are used to moor the vessel properly so as to prevent breakaways at any time during this high water season, he added.

Waterfront facilities are reminded to utilize sound judgment in preparing their facilities for high water conditions. Facilities should evaluate vessel and barge mooring conditions to reduce the likelihood of vessel or barge breakaways during oil transfer operations, Michalczak said.

Facilities that store or transport hazardous materials or oil products should ensure that potential pollution sources are secured or removed, he said. These measures may include but are not limited to:

—Reducing or securing unnecessary equipment on the facility that may become a missile hazard should the water flood their facility.

—Removing or securing portable tanks.

—Securing potential sources of discharge.

—Limiting quantities of hazardous materials or oil products stored at the facility for the duration of high water conditions.

Mariners are prohibited from pushing their vessels or barges on the levees, Michalczak said. Every effort shall be made to ensure that the levee system is protected and mariners must be vigilant in their efforts to ensure prudent seamanship during this high water season, he said.

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