Stephanie Wilson, Senior Project Scientist with ESS Group, Inc., chaired the EBC 8th Annual Ocean Resource Management Conference: Update on Dredging In New England – Disposal and Beneficial Reuse held on Thursday, June 26, 2014 in Boston, MA.
Under Wilson’s leadership, this program brought together speakers from state and federal government and private industry to update attendees on the status of dredging and dredged material management in New England. The topic of discussion was specific to disposal and beneficial reuse options for dredged material.
“Many of the speakers for this year’s conference have been active in New England dredging for more than a decade,” said Wilson. “They are a great resource for those planning projects and seeking innovative approaches. Our speakers covered everything from dredging methodologies and sediment characterization to promoting the reuse of dredged materials for shoreline restoration in response to sea level rise and recent catastrophic events.”
Conference highlights, as reported by Stephanie, included:
Steven Wolf, Program Manager for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New England District, stated that in his experience, disposal options can often drive the feasibility of dredging projects. Many techniques for placement and monitoring of dredged material have been evaluated through the New England District’s Disposal Area Monitoring System (DAMOS) program, which monitors in-water dredged material disposal sites within New England dating back to 1977. Looking ahead, Mr. Wolf believes that increased sediment transport potential in New England, in conjunction with anticipated sea level rise, availability of additional data, and more rigorous analysis of impacts and risks associated with disposal options, could translate to more beneficial use opportunities for dredged material.
Thomas Fredette, Ph.D., Research Biologist for USACE, New England District, discussed the risks and benefits associated with capping and CAD cells as dredged material disposal options. Through decades of research, it has been concluded that caps and CAD cells are stable features that offer relatively low cost disposal options and represent lower overall risk relative to other disposal alternatives. Although these disposal approaches have been accepted and used by federal (USACE, USEPA) and state agencies, as well as by other nations, Dr. Fredette believes that the long-term need should diminish as legacy sediment quantity decreases.
Dan Goulet, Dredging Coordinator for the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, provided an overview of dredged material management in Rhode Island. Rhode Island has a state law that requires all dredged material that can be beneficially reused shall be. In practice, the physical properties of the material are the determining factor in selecting a disposal alternative. Mr. Goulet foresees marsh restoration and protection from sea level rise as the next big challenge in Rhode Island.
Ken Chin, Wetlands and Waterways Program member for MassDEP, also foresees the imminent threats associated with shoreline erosion and future sea level rise. He expects these threats will steer MassDEP towards permitting decisions that promote use of dredged sediments for beneficial uses, beyond beach nourishment, wherever possible. However, he also stressed that a properly designed sampling plan is vital to supporting a full evaluation of disposal options, particularly when proposing beneficial reuse alternatives.
Ryan Davis, Principal Ecologist/Partner for Anchor QEA, provided an overview of beneficial uses of dredged material, including for shoreline protection and resiliency, ecosystem restoration or creation, and enhanced recreational resources. He presented a series of case studies in which dredged material was beneficially reused for habitat creation and coastal protection purposes.
Rob Kraus, CEO of Genesis Water, Inc., discussed the unique challenges associated with dredging an inland waterbody. He stated that finding an effective and efficient dewatering solution is critical to addressing the challenges associated with inland waterbody dredging, which is commonly limited by space, permitting regulations, time, and cost. The Genesis Rapid Dewatering System (RDS) segregates sand and fine sediment, allowing for multiple beneficial reuse applications.
Press Release, July 15, 2014