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Fact sheet: Coast Guard ‘PAWSA’ process for the Hudson River

The U.S. Coast Guard announced June 28, 2017, that it would conduct a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment for the Hudson River.

What is PAWSA?

• A Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) is a disciplined technical review conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard to evaluate the safety conditions of a waterway.
• The Coast Guard invites a group of government representatives (e.g., USCG, DEC), waterway users (people who are actually involved in the movement of vessels), and stakeholders (others whose livelihood and or quality of life are affected by waterway activities) to participate in the process.
• Those selected participate in a two-day, in-person workshop.
• Over the course of the workshop, participants assess the risks faced by the waterway, the current remediation of those risks, and new remediation measures.
• USCG generates risk scores by asking participants to fill out a formulaic work book containing questions about the waterway and associated risks.

What risks does PAWSA examine?

• A PAWSA is designed to assess current conditions and risk associated with maritime transit.
• The PAWSA process assesses risk in six categories: Vessel Conditions, Traffic Conditions, Navigational Conditions, Waterway Conditions, Waterway Conditions, Immediate Consequences, and Subsequent consequences.
• Each category is divided into four subcategories for a total of 24 risk subcategories.

Why does it matter?

• Following the completion of the workshop, the Coast Guard generates a PAWSA Report which catalogs the risk scores and remedies suggested by participants.
• Participants can suggest remedies to existing risks that are not balanced by current measures.
• Past PAWSA Reports have not contained official findings or action requirements from the Coast Guard
• Once a PAWSA Report is published, it can be used by the Coast Guard to support rulemaking in the future (e.g., a potential rule to establish new anchorages).

Who participates?

• A PAWSA workshop typically involves 20-30 participants.
• For the Hudson River PAWSA, the Coast Guard has indicated that the process will be representative of the “diverse concerns” raised in response to the anchorages proposal.
• In the past, environmental and community groups (like Pacific Environment and NY Open Water) and state and local government entities (like Port Authorities and Economic Development Corporations) have been included.
• In the past, Government and Commercial/Business representatives have significantly outweighed Community Participants.

How can members of the public make a request to participate?

• Members of the public can contact the Coast Guard to request to be considered for participation in the PAWSA process.
• Interested parties are being asked to provide their name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience and related skills to the Coast Guard at HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil.
• Requests are due by July 21, 2017.
• The Coast Guard has stated that it will announce a participant selection process at a later date.

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