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Funding Issues May Force PORTS Program To Shut Down

File photo of Delaware River from Race Street Pier. (Credit: Tim Jimenez)

File photo of Delaware River from Race Street Pier. (Credit: Tim Jimenez)

David Madden David Madden
David Madden is a Philadelphia native with virtually a lifetime of...
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By David Madden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A program that provides real-time navigational information on the Delaware River and Bay could be shut down in a few months.

The PORTS program, short for Physical Oceanographic Real Time System, puts out accurate tidal and water level information, and more, vital to ships large and small.

The feds handle administration, but local money, just under $300,000 from the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, pays for day to day maintenance and equipment.

The agency recently cut that funding, so Darren Wright, who manages the NOAA program, has put things on hold.

“We are not doing the routine maintenance that we typically do and if sensors start disseminating bad data because of that, we actually have to shut off dissemination and will not be able to turn it back on,” and everything could be shut down September 1st says Wright.

“The Port Authority clearly recognizes the importance of the PORTS program as a safety and information tool, and we are working very hard on a funding solution,” says Authority spokesman Joe Menta.

The Port Authority says Pennsylvania has footed the annual stipend for several years and efforts are now on to get New Jersey and Delaware to chip in going forward.

Until there’s a deal, though, sensors are not being maintained, and will be shut off if they start putting out bad data.

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