Two environmental projects honored at WEDA summit
Each year at its annual Summit, the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) presents Environmental Excellence Awards, recognizing projects that demonstrate environmental awareness.
This year the winners were announced during the opening ceremony of the virtual Summit held from June 15 to 17.
WEDA’s Environmental Excellence Award for Navigation Dredging was presented to the Project Team for the West Bay Dredging and Restoration Project, Louisiana, and the Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Dredging went to the Project Team for the BASF Hudson River Remediation and Restoration Project, Rensselaer, New York.
The prize-winning project teams fulfilled and exceeded the criteria of the Environmental Commission and made outstanding contributions to meeting the goals of WEDA’s Environmental Commission, which are to “promote communication and understanding of environmental issues and stimulate new solutions associated with dredging and placement of dredged materials such that dredging projects, including navigation and environmental, are accomplished in an efficient manner while meeting environmental goals.”
WEDA’s 2021 Environmental Excellence Award for Navigation Dredging was presented to the project team for the West Bay Dredging and Restoration Project, Louisiana, comprised of US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District; US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center; Weeks Marine, Inc.; Bean Dredging, LLC; Mike Hooks, LLC; Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, LLC; and Manson Construction Company.
West Bay (Louisiana) USA is a ca. 12,000 acres (4,860 ha) sub-delta adjacent to the Mississippi River that typifies the risks of coastal land loss, such as loss of critical marsh habitat and threatened navigation banklines, with approximately 70% (ca. 8,000 acres) conversion from marsh to open water since the 1950s.
West Bay is a long-term coastal marsh restoration project that uses innovative and sustainable practices and thus offers an opportunity to identify and document consistencies with Engineering with Nature principles, a USACE initiative supporting more sustainable practices for delivering economic, environmental and social benefits through collaborative processes.
The West Bay restoration began in 2003 in an effort to mitigate extensive coastal land loss and resultant risks to the federal navigational bankline. The creation of a large uncontrolled diversion in 2003 in combination with the installation of dynamic sediment berms referred to as Sediment Retention Enhancement Devices (SREDs), were constructed using dredged sediment in 2009, 2013 and 2015.
They were successful in utilizing nature’s energy to promote marsh creation using sediment-laden water from the Mississippi River. In addition to the sediment diverted from the river, over 37 million cubic yards (MCY) of sediment placed from dredging projects from 2002-2019 facilitated the restoration of over 2,400 acres of land in the formerly open waters of West Bay.
This project documented the historical context and successes of the restoration strategies in West Bay from 2002-2019. The information gathered will be used to promote a better understanding of how the strategic and beneficial use of dredged sediment in riverine environments can restore ecosystem function and improve bankline stability using Engineering with Nature principles.
The information gathered demonstrates that the measures taken to date to mitigate coastal land loss and reduce risks to the federal navigation channel have been successful.
The 2021 WEDA Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Dredging was presented to the project team for the BASF Hudson River Remediation and Restoration Project, Rensselaer, New York, comprised of AECOM, BASF Corporation, Land Remediation, Inc. and the ELM Group.
The BASF site is the oldest dye stuff manufacturing facility in the United States, with a rich and colorful industrial history dating to the late 1800s. Sediment adjacent to the site is impacted by a variety of metals, organic compounds and non-site related PCBs.
The site is regulated as a state Superfund Site, requiring BASF to implement a combined remedy that included dredging of close to 40,000 cubic yards of impacted sediments, installing cover systems across an approximately 5-acre area for habitat restoration and monitored natural recovery. Environmental dredging, capping and restoration activities were completed in 2020.
Any number of technical and logistical reasons made this project an environmental challenge: Sediment was significantly impacted, requiring multiple levels of environmental controls and monitoring activities. Removal of sediment in cold weather posed safety and production challenges. The presence of two federally endangered fish species required innovative use of green engineering technologies to protect fish without impacting remediation. And perhaps most importantly, the team was collectively challenged to deliver the project in as sustainable a manner as possible, including integrating the remedial effort into BASF’s larger goals for revitalization of this impaired property.
The Hudson River remediation and restoration actions were closely coordinated with other site remediation projects resulting in significant cost savings. The project included the installation of an ecologically enhanced sub-aqueous cover system and the creation of a series of ecological habitats to provide ecological continuity between the river and the site uplands.
The remedy is fully integrated with BASF’s larger sustainable development goals for the Rensselaer site – which included construction of a LEED-platinum certified educational classroom and a clean energy cogeneration redevelopment project which provides jobs and increases the City’s tax base.
The remediation and restoration of the BASF Rensselaer is a showcase for Green and Sustainable Remediation coupled with Engineering with Nature initiatives. The project team’s commitment to the success of both the remediation and restoration cannot be overstated.