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Hendrickson Debate 12-13 Riverlocks 1AC
1AC – Plan Text
Plan: The United States federal government should modernize its system of locks and dams.
1AC – Inherency
Contention 1 is Inherency
Adoption of a “fix when fail” policy ensures delays and collapse of inland waterways
Len Boselovic, award winner for business and investigative reporting, 3/18/2012, Pittsburgh Post (“THE NATION'S LOCKS AND DAMS, INCLUDING 23 IN REGION, ARE ON THE BRINK OF FAILURE, ACCORDING TO U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS”)
Faced with flat funding, the Corps has adopted a "fix when fail" approach to maintaining locks and dams. Take what happened at the Montgomery Dam on the Ohio River near Shippingport in 2006. A week after the Corps concluded that the dam had structural problems, a runaway barge hit it, damaging two of 10 100-foot-wide steel gates used to control the flow of water.¶ "Since that time, we've only had enough funds to put Band-Aids on the gates," said the Corps' Mr. Fisher. "We are at the border of 'fix when fail' and 'failing to fix.' "¶ With preventive maintenance crimped, barge operators face more frequent and longer delays as locks break down. On the Ohio River, the number of hours lost annually because of outages has tripled since 2000 to 80,000 hours, members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure were told last fall.¶ "I have never seen the disruptions to traffic we have now," said Martin T. Hettel, the American Electric Power manager responsible for moving coal on AEP barges to the Columbus, Ohio, utility's power plants. The delays occur even though the Corps spends millions each year to keep outdated facilities functioning.¶ "That's just throwing money down a rat hole," said William Harder, a former navigation manager in the Corps' Great Lakes and Ohio River division who retired last year.¶ Dams are used to generate hydroelectric power and prevent flooding. They are also used to hold back water, creating a pool deep enough for barges to move up and down the river. Because the water level rises and falls at different points along rivers, locks are used to raise and lower barges depending on the depth of the river where they are coming from and the depth of the river where they are headed.
And, there’s no impact to minor delays, but poor maintenance makes mass lock failure inevitable
Boselovic 2012 (Len Boselovic, Journalist for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/9/2012 “Locked and Dammed: Neglect erodes river commerce,” http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/environment/locked-and-dammed-neglect-erodes-river-commerce-617136/)hhs-ps
Mr. Dinkel said short-term outages could be managed "through some creative engineering and logistical arrangements." But if a dam would be out of commission for a period of several years, "That would be very troubling to us," he said. "It would put us in a bind for a protracted period of time." The likelihood of a lock or dam being knocked out of commission for several months or longer has increased in recent years, as aging facilities along the nation's waterways have become harder to keep running and more expensive to care for. Efforts to build new locks and dams have been plagued by cost overruns measured in hundreds of millions of dollars and construction delays measured in decades. And statistics indicate the Corps is losing the fight to keep the old structures working. Unscheduled lock closures nationwide have spiked in recent years, particularly in Pittsburgh. Western Pennsylvania has some of the oldest locks and dams on the 11,000-mile inland waterway that the Corps maintains. Moderate- and high-use locks in the Pittsburgh district were out of operation 2,255 hours in the fiscal year that ended in September, according to the Corps. That compares to 879 hours in fiscal 2010 and 1,441 hours in fiscal 2009. More than 70 percent of the down time last year involved unscheduled closures, where unexpected mechanical, structural or hydraulic problems disrupted river traffic. "Failures have been occurring and will continue to occur at an accelerated rate," said William Harder, a former navigation manager in the Corps' Great Lakes and Ohio River division who retired last year. Mr. Harder estimates it would take at least three years to replace a broken lock on the Monongahela and a minimum of six years to replace a dam. If such drastic measures were required, the impact of a prolonged river outage might come as a surprise to consumers, who would pay the costs related to the outage.
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