Clean Ocean Action has over 30 years of experience monitoring dredging projects and advocating for environmentally sound solutions to meet real dredging needs in the region's waterways. From the New York/New Jersey Harbor and Barnegat Bay to the Long Island Sound, COA has successfully identified and advocated solutions for sediments that range from clean sand to seriously contaminated sediment. As we like to say, “COA knows mud”!
In the past several years, dredge material management (what is done with the sediment after it is dug from navigation channels) has become increasingly critical, especially in state channels and marinas. The locations where dredged material is traditionally placed (called “confined dredge facilities”) eventually fill up, age out or become too expensive. COA considers properly managed dredged material as an asset that can be utilized in a variety of ways, called “beneficial reuse.” Depending on the type of material recovered, dredge material can be used to nourish beaches and/or raise drowning or deteriorating wetlands, which is occurring rapidly due to sea level rise. Two other alternative ecological options are to replace or repair eroding shorelines in processes called “living shorelines” and “thin layer placement.”
Dredge material can also be used as construction fill or landfill cover. Innovative ideas for the utilization of dredged material can help alleviate the pressure many municipalities feel to maintain marinas and navigational channels by finding solutions to their dredge material management problems.
COA continues to review dredging projects and material management plans for environmental impacts and community support. While many of these new technologies are promising and can provide beneficial uses of sediments, questions remain including: How should the NJDEP best identify projects and beneficial reuse locations? What is the regulatory framework used to vet these projects? What are the environmental criteria? How well can contractors implement these projects?”
Most importantly, COA remains committed to advocating for meaningful community engagement, including planning and coordination, which are key for any successful dredging project.