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Shallow Draft Waterways Survey

Coast Guard seeks public comment on shallow draft waterway navigation system

The US Coast Guard is conducting a Waterways Analysis and Management System Study on the Shallow Draft System (waters less than 12 feet deep), to update its policies and make navigable waterways of the United States safer and more efficient.

“Our waterways have become increasingly congested and complex,” states the USCG announcement. “While the number and size of the vessels traveling through the U.S. Marine Transportation System has increased, the number and in some cases size of U.S. navigation corridors has not. The recreational boating industry has also seen steady growth over the last decade further congesting the waterways.”

To address these changes and determine navigation requirements for the Shallow Draft Waterway System, the Coast Guard is soliciting feedback from local maritime partners and stakeholders that operate on the affected waterways.

Moore 24 sails past a red daymark
The Petaluma River entrance markers are in thin water, and the river itself is pretty shallow. Mariners run aground trying to cut the corner between the river entrance and San Pablo Bay. We didn’t have a picture of that handy. So here’s a Moore 24 sailing on the ‘wrong’ side of a shipping channel daymark on the San Joaquin River. With a 4.5-ft draft, the Moore doesn’t need to stay in the 40-ish-ft shipping channel, but where exactly are the edges and shoals for our keels? (The San Andreas Shoal is in the background.) As they say in the Delta, if you haven’t been aground, you haven’t been around.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The study’s purpose is to determine the navigational needs and requirements of vessels operating in shallow-draft navigable waterways throughout the country. The study will focus on the existing shallow-water Aids to Navigation system, future development projects, waterborne commerce transiting these waters, and marine casualty information.

The CG invites waterway users, interested parties and stakeholders to provide comments or feedback via the tool posted at This link will remain available until November 1, 2020. You also email questions or comments to [email protected]. Use the subject line “Shallow Draft WAMS.”



  1. Cameron Tuttle 4 years ago

    Thanks for this heads up Christine. I went and submitted a survey reply right away. Now if we could just get the Feds to dredge…

  2. Jerry Barnes 4 years ago

    Dredging needed off Hayden Island in the Columbia River . I cannot leave marina unless at least a 2 ft high tide. I draw 6.5 ft 36 ‘ sailboat.

  3. Gary Whitney 4 years ago

    Replace the channel markers between Puget island and the Washington shore, Cathlamet, WA. It was marked and a few years ago they removed the navaids. Sailboats need the aids to follow the winding channel.

  4. Michael Nance 4 years ago

    The entrance to Tomahawk/Salpare Bay has needed to be dredged ever since Columbia Crossings pumped sand out of Tomahawk Marina right out in front of the entrance. There are sandbars all over out there!

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