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Title 33 of the United States Code outlines the role of navigable waters in the United States Code.
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Broad distinctions are useful to avoid ambiguity, and disambiguation will be of varying importance depending on the nuance of the equivalent word in other languages. A first distinction is necessary between maritime shipping routes and waterways used by inland water craft. Maritime shipping routes cross oceans and seas, and some lakes, where navigability is assumed, and no engineering is required, except to provide the draft for deep-sea shipping to approach seaports (channels), or to provide a short cut across an isthmus; this is the function of ship canals. Dredged channels in the sea are not usually described as waterways. There is an exception to this initial distinction, essentially for legal purposes, see under international waters.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, running from Massachusetts southward along the Atlantic Seaboard and around the southern tip of Florida, then following the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas. Some sections of the waterway consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds, while others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea.
Water resources law is the field of law dealing with the ownership, control, and use of water as a resource. It is most closely related to property law, and is distinct from laws governing water quality.
The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs) are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and set out, among other things, the "rules of the road" or navigation rules to be followed by ships and other vessels at sea to prevent collisions between two or more vessels. COLREGs can also refer to the specific political line that divides inland waterways, which are subject to their own navigation rules, and coastal waterways which are subject to international navigation rules. The COLREGs are derived from a multilateral treaty called the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Its objective is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters; recognizing the responsibilities of the states in addressing pollution and providing assistance to states to do so, including funding for publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment; and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.
A body of water, such as a river, canal or lake, is navigable if it is deep, wide and calm enough for a water vessel to pass safely. Such a navigable water is called a waterway, and is preferably with few obstructions against direct traverse that needed avoiding, such as rocks, reefs or trees. Bridges built over waterways must have sufficient clearance. High flow speed may make a channel unnavigable due to risk of ship collisions. Waters may be unnavigable because of ice, particularly in winter or high-latitude regions. Navigability also depends on context: a small river may be navigable by smaller craft such as a motorboat or a kayak, but unnavigable by a larger freighter or cruise ship. Shallow rivers may be made navigable by the installation of locks that regulate flow and increase upstream water level, or by dredging that deepens parts of the stream bed.
The inland waterways of the United States include more than 25,000 mi (40,000 km) of navigable waters. Much of the commercially important waterways of the United States consist of the Mississippi River System—the Mississippi River and connecting waterways.
The Refuse Act is a United States federal statute governing use of waterways. The Act, a section of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, prohibited "dumping of refuse" into navigable waters, except by permit.
The Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899 is the oldest federal environmental law in the United States. The Act makes it a misdemeanor to discharge refuse matter of any kind into the navigable waters, or tributaries thereof, of the United States without a permit; this specific provision is known as the Refuse Act. The Act also makes it a misdemeanor to excavate, fill, or alter the course, condition, or capacity of any port, harbor, channel, or other areas within the reach of the Act without a permit. The Act also made it illegal to dam navigable streams without a license from Congress. This provision was included for the purposes of hydroelectric generation, at a time when the electric utility industry was expanding rapidly.
Navigable servitude is a doctrine in United States constitutional law that gives the federal government the right to regulate navigable waterways as an extension of the Commerce Clause in Article I, Section 8 of the constitution. It is also sometimes called federal navigational servitude.
An able seaman (AB) is a seaman and member of the deck department of a merchant ship with more than two years' experience at sea and considered "well acquainted with his duty". An AB may work as a watchstander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles. Once a sufficient amount of sea time is acquired, then the AB can apply to take a series of courses/examinations to become certified as an officer.
An ordinary seaman (OS) is a member of the deck department of a ship. The position is an apprenticeship to become an able seaman, and has been for centuries. In modern times, an OS is required to work on a ship for a specific amount of time, gaining what is referred to as "sea time". For centuries, the term ordinary seaman was used to refer to a seaman with between one and two years' experience at sea, who showed enough seamanship to be so rated by their captain. Historically, in some navies and the merchant marine, a sailor with less experience was called a landsman.
The Code Européen des Voies de la Navigation Intérieure is the European code for rivers, canals and lakes in most of Europe.
In the United States, several federal agencies and laws have some jurisdiction over pollution from ships in U.S. waters. States and local government agencies also have responsibilities for ship-related pollution in some situations.
Rivers and Harbors Act may refer to one of many pieces of legislation and appropriations passed by the United States Congress since the first such legislation in 1824. At that time Congress appropriated $75,000 to improve navigation on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by removing sandbars, snags, and other obstacles. Like when first passed, the legislation was to be administered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), under its Chief Engineer and the Secretary of War.
The Water Resources Development Act of 1992, Pub. L. 102–580, was enacted by Congress of the United States on October 31, 1992. Most of the provisions of WRDA 1992 are administered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
A Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt is a federal German agency, responsible for the administration of federal navigable waters and for the regulation of vessel traffic.
A marine sanitation device (MSD) is a piece of machinery or a mechanical system that is dedicated to treat, process, and/or store raw, untreated sewage that can accumulate onboard water vessels. It does not refer to portable devices such as portable toilets.
Oil Pollution Act of 1924 is a United States federal statute establishing regulations for coastal navigable waters with regards to intentional fossil fuel discharges from seagoing vessels. The Act of Congress grants the Secretary of War authority to evaluate the oil volume discharge from a vessel while assessing if coastal navigable waters have a potential toxicity posing a deleterious condition for human health and seafood contamination. The 1924 United States statute provides judicial penalties encompassing civil and criminal punishment for violations of the prescribed regulations as stated in the Act.
Fairway is a part of a water body containing the navigable channel, a route suitable for ships of the larger size.