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Great Lakes Navigation System

The Great Lakes navigation system is a continuous 27-foot deep draft waterway that extends from the western end of Lake Superior at Duluth, MN to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Atlantic Ocean; a distance of over 2,400 miles. This bi-national resource is composed of the five Great Lakes, the connecting channels of the Great Lakes, the St Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The U.S. portion of the system includes 140 harbors (60 commercial; 80 recreational), two operational locks, 104 miles of breakwaters and jetties, and over 600 miles of maintained navigation channels. In addition, the GLNS is connected to several other shallow draft waterways (Illinois Waterway, New York State Barge Canal, etc.) to form an important waterborne transportation network, reaching deep into the continent.

The US Army Corps of Engineers helps to maintain Great Lakes navigation through dredging of channels and harbors, and construction and maintenance of coastal infrastructure.

Contact GLNAVIGATION@USACE.ARMY.MIL to submit comments or questions related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' role in Great Lakes navigation.

↓  Please Click Below for Access to Great Lakes Harbors Fact Sheets  

Great Lakes Harbors Fact Sheets

Harbor Fact Sheets include harbor features, project requirements, consequences of not maintaining the project, and transportation importance.


Buffalo District Survey Information   Chicago District Survey Information    Detroit District Project and Survey Information  
Buffalo District Program and Project Map   Chicago District Navigation Information   


Great Lakes Dredging Information

Dredging Funding Trends from 2007-2019

Chart detailing the amount of dredging funding received for Great Lakes harbors over the past 12 years.

Dredging Backlog growth through 2018

Graph depicting the estimated dredging backlog from 1985 through 2018

Introduction to Dredging Methods on the Great Lakes

This document contains basic information on the process of dredging, the role of the Army Corps of Engineers in federal dredging projects, and an explanation of dredged material disposal methods.  

Dredged Material Management

Great Lakes Dredged Material Management and CDF Fact Sheets

Confined Disposal Facilities(CDF) Fact Sheets include project features, beneficial use, and post closure use.

Dredged Material Placement Methods Map

This map displays the various methods of dredged material placement employed by harbors on the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Dredged Material Management Long Term Strategic Plan

Great Lakes Navigation System Information

Great Lakes Navigation System Update

A presentation focusing on the Great Lakes region current workload.

Great Lakes Navigation System: ECONOMIC STRENGTH to the Nation

This document 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 (PDF)

The Great Lakes Navigation System brochure gives information on the navigation system, channels, navigation structures, locks and dredged material management on the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Coastal Infrastructure Pamphlet (PDF)

"Great Lakes Coastal Infrastructure: Critical Protection at Risk" summarizes the different aspects and risks behind the federal projects of the Great Lakes region.

The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway System

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

Great Lakes Navigation 2009 Program Benefits

This document summarizes some of the many benefits achieved as a result of the healthy program in 2009.

Great Lakes Strategic Communication and Initiative Information

Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meetings

All are welcome to join us for our Great Lakes Navigation Stakeholder Meetings. We have posted information on upcoming meetings and presentations from recent meetings.

Structure Risk Communication Meetings

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Navigation Team is in the process of planning a series of regional meetings to initiate a dialogue with state and local officials to inform them of the current condition of coastal infrastructure and the projected risks posed by deferred maintenance.

Soo Locks Asset Renewal Plan

The Corps has developed a detailed Soo Locks Asset Renewal Plan that defines the project requirements needed to maximize reliability and reduce the risk of failure at the Soo Locks. Please contact us for more information regarding this publication.

Contact Us

To submit comments or questions related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' role in Great Lakes navigation, send email to GLNAVIGATION@usace.army.mil