The Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) yesterday showed support to the recommendations for the management of dredged materials that have been proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The Draft Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) released by the Army Corps identifies a range of environmentally sound alternatives for the handling of materials created by dredging projects – including beneficial uses such as beach nourishment and marsh restoration, as well as continued use of open water sites in Long Island Sound,” said DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee. “Our ability to conduct dredging in coastal waterways is critical to sustaining Connecticut’s water-dependent economy and the practical, cost-effective, and environmentally acceptable management alternatives offered by the Army Corps will help meet the needs of our ports and harbors.”
On Monday, the Corps released the DMMP and a related Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Long Island Sound. The dredging plan was prepared in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Connecticut’s DEEP, and the New York Department of State and New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
The DMMP examines the need for dredging, the history of dredging and dredged material placement, and current beneficial use practices, such as beach nourishment, as well as placement at the four open water disposal sites currently operated by the Army Corps.
These sites are: Western Long Island Sound site near Stamford; Central Long Island Sound site near New Haven; Cornfield Shoals site near Old Saybrook; and the New London Disposal Site near New London.
Commissioner Klee said that maintenance of channels, ports and harbors is vital to safe and efficient use of the region’s waterways and that maritime-related commerce is a major economic driver for the Long Island Sound region and the State of Connecticut.
“Maintenance dredging supports the movement of goods through our state’s deep water ports, ferry operations, recreational boating, maritime industries such as Electric Boat in Groton, and critical national security facilities such as the Naval Submarine Base in New London,” Commissioner Klee said.
Dredged material management in Connecticut is carefully regulated and monitored by DEEP, EPA and USACE in accordance with State and Federal standards. Dredged material must be found suitable for open water placement through extensive physical, chemical and biological testing.
As an added measure of protection, the state of Connecticut often requires placement of cleaner material on top of sediment that contains concentrations of certain constituents that are found to be present above the background levels at the disposal sites.
“Where feasible, dredged materials are put to beneficial reuse and that will continue to be a top priority as we work toward the goal of reducing open water disposal” Commissioner Klee said. “However, because much of the sediment from Connecticut waterways is fine-grained, reuse alternatives often are not feasible and the open water sites must remain available for the foreseeable future.”