Three Environmental projects honored at WEDA Summit & Expo

Each year at its annual Summit & Expo, the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) takes pride in presenting Environmental Excellence Awards, acknowledging projects that demonstrate environmental awareness.

This year three categories of environmental excellence were recognized: Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change, Navigation Dredging, and Environmental Dredging.

WEDA’s 2022 Environmental Excellence Award for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change was presented to the Project Team for the Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough Reopening Project in Aransas County, Texas.

Cedar Bayou is a natural tidal inlet, located approximately 40 miles southwest of the Matagorda Ship Channel in Aransas County, Texas. When the inlet is open, it enhances the surrounding bay system by providing circulation to 22,000 acres of Vinson Slough marshes, serves as a migratory fish pass for marine life, and supports the economy of Aransas County.

This project brought stability to an ever-changing habitat, a stability that will lead to greater benefits for all habitats that rely on this area, while also being cost-effective in reducing the amount of future maintenance dredging. The methodologies used here are easily transferrable to hydrologic restoration dredging projects within ephemeral inlets aimed at enhancing environmental habitats, such as those found throughout the Texas Gulf Coast and similar barrier island environments around the world.

WEDA’s 2022 Environmental Excellence Award for Navigation Dredging was presented to the Project Team for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard Project at Ballast Point, San Diego, California.

The U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard) Mooring Ballast Point (MBP) station is located at Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL) in San Diego, California. In 2018, the Coast Guard MBP was critically in need of dredging.

In the early stages of planning, the Navy approached the Coast Guard to collaborate on an artificial reef and eelgrass restoration project at a site directly adjacent to the dredging site at a Navy beach called Smuggler’s Cove. The Navy restoration plan proposed using recycled materials from the deconstruction of the P-180 Navy Fueling Pier to build a rocky reef structure, and then use sediment from the Coast Guard mooring area to bring the eroding beach and offshore areas up to a shallower grade.

With partnering from Resource and Regulatory Agencies the project included restoring a recreational beach, stabilizing a seawall, reducing shoreline erosion, creating an eelgrass habitat, and adding a rocky reef. It benefited two Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs) under the Pacific Groundfish Fisheries Management Plan and contributed to goals of shoreline softening under the San Diego Bay Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan.

The 2022 WEDA Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Dredging was presented to the Project Team for Lightning Point Shoreline Restoration Project, Bayou La Batre and Mississippi Sound, Alabama.

The Lightning Point coastline, located at the confluence of the Bayou La Batre navigation channel and Mississippi Sound, on the coast of Alabama, has been repeatedly exposed to tropical cyclone impacts throughout history and has lost some 600 feet of shoreline over the last 100 years. The main objective of the Shoreline Restoration Project was to restore habitat and resources that were injured as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

To achieve this, both resilience and sustainability concepts were integrated with ecological components early in the engineering and design phase. Coastal beach features were constructed to prioritize the establishment of State Species of Concern, such as least terns and diamondback terrapins, which are being raised off-site and will be released on-site over the next few years by the University of Alabama-Birmingham scientists.

For further information on the teams and the awards, please click HERE.

Photo: Nature.org/Alabama