New tool for the assessment and management of dredging programs

Proponents of future infrastructure projects involving large-scale dredging will be encouraged to comply with new scientific guidelines in order to carry out their activities, reports the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI).

The Environmental Protection Authority’s Technical Guidance for the Environmental Impact Assessment of Marine Dredging Proposals has been revised and updated to include key scientific findings from WAMSI’s Dredging Science Node (DSN).

The revised technical guidance will improve the ability for industry to predict and manage the impacts of large-scale dredging on projects in Western Australia.

Dredging is a critical component of WA’s infrastructure and essential to the export of commodities, however until recently, there had been considerable uncertainty about the scale and intensity of potential impacts on the state’s marine environment.

This uncertainty has often meant lengthy delays in the approval and regulatory processes, amounting to significant costs for the proponents and the state, as well as costly monitoring and management regimes.

The guidance describes a framework that recognises this uncertainty and provides for the clear and consistent presentation of predicted dredging effects on benthic habitats caused by removal, light reduction or burial at the sites of dredging and disposal.

It is complemented by the Guidelines on dredge plume modelling for environmental impact assessment, published by WAMSI.

Photo: WAMSI