M/V Mesabi Miner at Sturgeon Bay Harbor and Lake Michigan Ship Canal in Wisconsin on January 14, 2023.

Great Lakes Navigation & Dredging

The Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS) is an extensive deepwater navigation network that spans 1,600 miles, encompassing all five Great Lakes and connecting channels from Duluth, Minnesota, to Ogdensburg, New York.

There are 60 commercial and 80 recreational harbors, two operational locks, 104 miles of breakwaters and jetties, and over 600 miles of well-maintained navigation channels. Additionally, the GLNS is intricately linked to several other shallow draft waterways, such as the Illinois Waterway and New York State Barge Canal, forming a crucial waterborne transportation network that extends deep into North America.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains the Great Lakes Navigation System by dredging channels and harbors, as well as constructing and maintaining coastal infrastructure.

Great Lakes Navigation System

Great Lakes Navigation System: Economic Strength to the Nation

This report covers topics such as the system's economic benefits and costs, the system's environmental benefits, the need to strengthen the system, the five year plan for the system, critical system needs, and interdependency of the system.

Great Lakes Navigation System Brochure

This brochure provides a summary of the Great Lakes Navigation System including a summary of key missions and infrastructure maintained within the system along with the leading commodities and tonnages that move through the system.

Coastal Infrastructure Pamphlet

This four-page document summarizes the different aspects and risks behind the federal projects of the Great Lakes region.

Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region, July 2023, Martin Associates
Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region, July 2018, Martin Associates

An economic study by Martin Associates on the impacts of Great Lakes navigation.

Economic Impacts of the Soo Locks, July 2018, Martin Associates

An economic study by Martin Associates on the impacts of the Soo Locks.

US Army Corps of Engineers Navigation Data Center Website
Implementation of the Great Lakes Navigation Regional Funding Provisions FY08-10
2023 Great Lakes Construction Roundtable
Fiscal Year 2024 Construction Contract
2022 Great Lakes Construction Roundtable
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Chicago District FY22 and FY23 Dredging Program
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Buffalo District FY23 Dredged Material Management Program
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ohio Dredging Newsletter
Soo Locks Asset Renewal Plan

This plan defines the project requirements needed to maximize reliability and reduce the risk of failure at the Soo Locks. Contact glnavigation@usace.army.mil for more information regarding this publication.

Materials below are a snapshot of USACE Detroit District's events and developments at the noted date. These do not reflect current mission status.

November 9, 2023 - Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meeting - In Person - Detroit, MI
July 25, 2023 - American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA) Summer 2023 Meeting - In Person - Chicago, IL
April 14, 2023 - Shallow Draft Recreational Harbor Meeting - Virtual and In Person
November 10, 2022 - Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meeting - Virtual and In Person - Detroit, MI
July 27, 2022 - American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA) Summer 2022 Meeting - In Person - Milwaukee, WI
April 22, 2022 - Shallow Draft Recreational Harbor Meeting - Virtual and In Person
November 18, 2021 - Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meeting - Virtual and In Person - Detroit, MI
April 30, 2021 - Shallow Draft Recreational Harbor Meeting - Virtual

Contact glnavigation@usace.army.mil is you wish to receive any of the below meeting materials.

November 05, 2020 - Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meeting - Virtual
  • Great Lakes Navigation Meeting Invitation
  • Great Lakes Navigation Meeting Agenda
  • Great Lakes Navigation Meeting Call-in Information
  • Great Lakes Navigation Program Update by Marie Strum
  • Buffalo District Projects of Interest by Josh Feldmann
  • Soo Locks Maintenance Update by Cindy Jarema
  • Calumet and Indiana Harbor CDFs by Paul Mazzeno
  • Attendees List
June 3, 2020 - Great Lakes Dredging Team - Webinar
  • Great Lakes Navigation Update by Marie Strum
  • Updating the International Great Lakes Datum & Low Water Datum by John Allis & Cindy Jarema
February 11-12, 2020 - Great Lakes Waterways Conference - Cleveland, OH
  • Great Lakes Navigation Update by Marie Strum
  • Buffalo District Programs, Projects and Items of Interest by Josh Feldmann
  • Soo Locks Asset Renewal by Cindy Jarema
  • Chicago District Navigation Update by Adam Borrelli
November 12, 2019 - Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meeting - Detroit, MI
  • Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meeting Agenda
  • Great Lakes Navigation Program Update by Marie Strum
  • Buffalo District - Projects of Interest by Josh Feldmann
  • Detroit District - Soo Locks Maintenance Update by Dave Wright
  • Chicago District - Calumet and Indiana Harbor CDFs by Tim Kroll
  • Update to Great Lakes Datum/Low Water Datum by John Allis & Dave Wright
  • Attendee List
April 9, 2019 - Shallow Draft Recreational Harbor Meeting - Detroit, MI
  • Shallow Draft Harbor Needs & Issues Stakeholder Meeting by Marie Strum

February 4-6, 2019 - Great Lakes Waterways Conference - Cleveland, OH
  • Great Lakes Navigation Update Presentation by Marie Strum
  • Buffalo District Projects of Interest and Ohio 2020 by Josh Feldmann
  • Chicago District Projects of Interest by Tim Kroll
  • Great Lakes Breakwater Repairs Update by Cindy Jarema
December 12th, 2018 - Great Lakes Team Meeting Update - Webinar
  • Great Lakes Team Presentation by Marie Strum
April 10th, 2018 - Great Lakes Shallow Draft Harbor Stakeholder Meeting - Detroit, MI
  • Great Lakes Shallow Draft Stakeholders Presentation by Marie Strum
February 6-7, 2018 - Great Lakes Waterways Conference - Cleveland, OH
  • Great Lakes Navigation Update Presentation by Marie Strum
  • Buffalo District Stakeholder Briefing by Josh Feldmann
  • Chicago District Stakeholder DMMP Briefing by Tim Kroll
  • Chicago District Stakeholder Indiana Harbor Briefing by Tim Kroll

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Navigation Team conducted a series of regional meetings to initiate a dialogue with state and local officials to inform them of the current condition of coastal infrastructure (federal breakwaters, piers, jetties, etc.) and the projected risks posed by deferred maintenance. This is in keeping with the Corps' ongoing efforts of openly communicating risks to local entities and other harbor stakeholders.

The Corps discussed each harbor's federal navigation structures in detail, including the current condition of each of the structures and a discussion of the local landside infrastructure that is protected by the structures.  In-person meetings were held covering the harbors listed below. 

Although authorized to safeguard navigation activities in the federal harbors from waves and ice, these navigation structures also provide critical flood and/or storm damage protection for buildings, roads, and facilities. As these structures have aged and their conditions deteriorated, their ability to protect the navigation channel and the infrastructure that has developed behind them are increasingly at risk. The purpose of these regional meetings is to have an open dialogue on current conditions and risks.

Great Lakes Coastal Infrastructure Brochure: Critical Protection at Risk


Please email glnavigation@usace.army.mil to request the presentations below.

Escanaba - Oct 29, 2013
  • Escanaba Risk Communication 
  • Algoma Harbor, WI
  • Big Bay Harbor, MI
  • Cedar River Harbor, MI
  • Eagle Harbor, MI
  • Grand Traverse Bay Harbor, MI
  • Kewaunee Harbor, WI
  • Keweenaw Waterway Harbor, MI
  • Lac La Belle Harbor, MI
  • Marquette Harbor, MI
  • Menominee Harbor, MI & WI
  • Oconto Harbor, WI
  • Presque Isle Harbor, MI
  • Sturgeon Bay Harbor, WI
Oswego - September 23, 2013
  • Breakwater Risk Communication
  • Cape Vincent Harbor, NY
  • Great Sodus Harbor, NY
  • Irondequoit Harbor, NY
  • LIttle Sodus Harbor, NY
  • Oswego Harbor, NY
  • Port Ontario, NY
  • Rochester Harbor, NY
St Ignace - August 27, 2013
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Charlevoix Harbor, MI
  • Cheboygan Harbor, MI
  • Detour Harbor, MI
  • Grand Marais Harbor, MI
  • Hammond Bay Harbor, MI
  • Little Lake Harbor, MI
  • Mackinac Island Harbor, MI
  • Mackinaw City Harbor, MI
  • Manistique Harbor, MI
  • Petoskey Harbor, MI
  • Whitefish Point Harbor, MI
  • Duluth - June 20, 2013
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Ashland Harbor, WI
  • Bayfield Harbor, WI
  • Black River Harbor, MI
  • Cornucopia Harbor, WI
  • Duluth-Superior Harbor, MN/WI
  • Grand Marais Harbor, MN
  • Knife River, MN
  • La Pointe Harbor, WI
  • Ontonagon Harbor, MI
  • Port Wing Harbor, WI
  • Saxon Harbor, WI
  • Two Harbors, MN
Grayling - May 17, 2013
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Alpena Harbor, MI
  • Arcadia Harbor, MI
  • Au Sable Harbor, MI
  • Frankfort Harbor, MI
  • Greilickville Harbor, MI
  • Harrisville Harbor, MI
  • Leland Harbor, MI
  • Manistee Harbor, MI
  • Point Lookout Harbor, MI
  • Portage Lake Harbor, MI
  • Tawas Bay Harbor, MI
Port Huron - Oct 15, 2012
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Bolles Harbor, MI
  • Caseville Harbor, MI
  • Clinton River Harbor, MI
  • Harbor Beach, MI
  • Lexington Harbor, MI
  • Port Austin Harbor, MI
  • Port Sanilac Harbor, MI
Buffalo - Aug 30, 2012
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Barcelona Harbor, NY
  • Black Rock Lock & Tonawanda Harbor, NY
  • Buffalo Harbor, NY
  • Cattaraugus Creek Harbor, NY
  • Dunkirk Harbor, NY
  • Erie Harbor, PA
  • Oak Orchard Harbor, NY
  • Olcott Harbor, NY
  • Wilson Harbor, NY
Michigan City - Jul 18, 2012
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Burns Small Boat Harbor, IN
  • Burns Waterway Harbor, IN
  • Calumet Harbor, IL
  • Chicago Harbor, IL
  • Indiana Harbor, IN
  • Michigan City Harbor, IN
  • New Buffalo Harbor, MI
  • St. Joseph Harbor, MI
Cleveland - Jan 18, 2012
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Ashtabula Harbor, OH
  • Cleveland Harbor, OH
  • Conneaut Harbor, OH
  • Cooley Canal Harbor, OH
  • Fairport Harbor, OH
  • Huron Harbor, OH
  • Lorain Harbor, OH
  • Port Clinton Harbor, OH
  • Rocky River Harbor, OH
  • Sandusky Harbor, OH
  • Vermilion Harbor, OH
  • West Harbor, OH
Grand Haven - Nov 8, 2011
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Grand Haven Harbor, MI
  • Holland Harbor, MI
  • Ludington Harbor, MI
  • Muskegon Harbor, MI
  • Pentwater Harbor, MI
  • Saugatuck Harbor, MI
  • South Haven Harbor, MI
  • White Lake Harbor, MI
Milwaukee - Aug 16, 2011
  • Structure Risk Communication Presentation
  • Kenosha Harbor, WI
  • Manitowoc Harbor, WI
  • Milwaukee Harbor, WI
  • Port Washington Harbor, WI
  • Sheboygan Harbor, WI
  • Two Rivers Harbor, WI
  • Waukegan Harbor, IL

Great Lakes Dredging Team

The Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding best practices, lessons learned, innovative solutions, and sustainable approaches to dredging and dredge material management throughout the Great Lakes region.

The GLDT is not an advisory body. Its purpose is not to furnish advice to the federal government and the organization does not operate in any official capacity to oversee or direct the federal government. The purpose of the GLDT is to foster an exchange of information among participants regarding various aspects of the dredging process and dredged material management.

Information exchanged via the GLDT assists the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in implementing the USACE Environmental Operating Principles, which were developed to ensure USACE missions include integrated sustainable environmental practices. These principles direct USACE to:

  • Foster sustainability as a way of life throughout the organization.
  • Proactively consider environmental consequences of all Corps activities and act accordingly.
  • Create mutually supporting economic and environmentally sustainable solutions.
  • Continue to meet corporate responsibility and accountability under the law for activities undertaken by the agency which may impact human and natural environments.
  • Consider the environment in employing a risk management and systems approach throughout the life cycles of projects and programs.
  • Leverage scientific, economic and social knowledge to understand the environmental context and effects of Corps actions in a collaborative manner.
  • Employ an open, transparent process that respects views of individuals and groups interested in Corps activities.

The Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) provides a forum for information exchange among organizations interested in dredging and dredged material management. Participation in team activities is voluntary and open to the public. The GLDT strives to be inclusive and broad participation by diverse stakeholder organizations is key to the strong functioning of the team.

Member Entities
Federal Agencies
  • Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
  • Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration (MARAD)
  • Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
State Agencies representing resource management, environmental protection, and transportation functions
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Great Lakes Commission
Municipal Agencies
  • Great Lakes port authorities
Interested stakeholders who may participate in meetings
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • Northeast-Midwest Institute
  • Academic interests Sea Grants and universities
  • Trade associations and business groups Lake Carriers’ Association, dredging companies, engineering firms, etc.
  • There is an outstanding open invitation for any interested entity or member of the public to participate in meetings of the GLDT.

The GLDT generally holds two primary events a year, a face-to-face meeting and another virtual meeting via webinar. The face-to-face meeting is traditionally held in the spring and the webinar is traditionally held in the fall. The annual meeting and webinars are open to the public.

The activities of the GLDT consist of gathering information about best practices and lessons learned regarding dredged material management from practitioners inside and outside of the Great Lakes basin. This involves identifying published guidance documents as well as soliciting expert advice from those with experience on innovative or novel approaches to dredged material management.


The GLDT is organized by only governmental (federal, state, and local municipal) agencies. Committee members are only federal, state, or municipal staff. The three GLDT committees (Organizing committee, Technical committee, and Outreach committee) work together in locating this input and bringing it forth to the larger GLDT via webinars and meetings which are open to the public for participation.

An Organizing Committee has been established to provide administrative, coordinative, and oversight functions for the GLDT. The organizing committee typically meets via conference call every 4 to 8 weeks.

The Technical and Outreach Committees work together to accomplish the mission of the GLDT in identifying, soliciting, and disseminating information regarding local and regional technical and institutional dredging issues. These committees provide a forum for expressing and understanding the perspectives of the various stakeholders regarding dredging issues, with the ultimate goal of enabling the sustainable maintenance of the Great Lakes Navigation System. The goal of the two committees is not to obtain consensus among members and stakeholders, but openly exchange information regarding dredging and dredged material management, including input from stakeholders and the general public. These two committees hold conference calls and webinars on an ad hoc basis; these calls and webinars are always open to the general public.

The Technical Committee is comprised of dredged material practitioners who have technical expertise and/or experience with actual operations involving navigation dredging and dredged material management both inside and outside of the GLNS. They are a source of information regarding best management practices for dredging operations and handling of dredged material. Click here to view the Technical Committee Workplan.

The Outreach Committee acts as a clearing house for distribution of member-created products and information pertaining to dredging and dredging-related activities in order to communicate to broad and diverse groups who have an interest in maintenance of the GLNS. In addition, they obtain, organize and provide information internally in a timely manner to ensure maximum transparency. Their relationships and communication skills support Outreach Committee activities.

Participants of the organizing committee, and leadership (chairs) of the technical and outreach committees are decided by a nomination process and mutual agreement among existing organizing committee participants. Committee chairs will provide leadership for a 2-year period beginning at the annual spring face-to-face meeting. Leadership terms may be repeated.

Key Dredged Materials Guidance Documents

This section provides links to a variety of dredging publications from entities such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Great Lakes Commission and others. This section also includes a collection of publications related to dredging and dredged material management compiled and linked to (but not published) by the Great Lakes Dredging Team. Not all publications are up to date, however, they are valuable to understand dredging, dredged material management, and the beneficial use of dredged material management on the Great Lakes. The content and the views and opinions expressed in these publications do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, company, or organization that participates with or is a stakeholder of the Great Lakes Dredging Team.

Additional soil erosion and dredging publications can be found on the Great Lakes Commission website.

Dredging, Dredged Material Management, and Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Management
Ecological Impacts and Environmental Windows
Openwater and Nearshore Placement
Sediment Quality and Characterization
Sediment Remediation
Sediment and Watershed Management
Shared Dredging Resources

This section contains resources provided on behalf of the Lake Ontario Regional Dredging Council by the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance representatives Lynne M. Johnson and David E. Godfrey of the Orleans and Niagara County New York legislatures, respectively. These documents support the Small Harbor Shared Dredging Management presentation which they gave to the Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) on March 16, 2023. If you have questions about these resources for shallow draft or recreational harbors, please reach out to them directly using the contact information provided in their presentation.


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