Thursday, August 31, 2017

What is dredging and why is it important?

Dredging is defined as the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies (NOAA). It is often necessary to conduct this activity all around the world’s waterways because the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream fills in channels and harbors overtime, interfering with the navigation of ships. As such, dredging is important to the economy. Large container ships carry the bulk of the goods imported into the United States, and waterways need to be navigable. However, the most challenging issue related to dredging is what to do with all the dredge material. Addressing this problem requires thoughtful, proactive, community-based planning.     

More general information on dredging can be found on NOAA’s website at

Dredging at Fisherman's Cove in Manasquan, July 19, 2017

Post-dredging at Fisherman’s Cove in Manasquan, August 2, 2017

COA and Beneficial Reuse
Clean Ocean Action has been on the forefront of developing, analyzing, and advocating for community driven dredged material management plans and solutions for over 30 years. COA advocates for dredging of existing channels and in some circumstances, environmental dredging and the removal of contaminated or ecologically harmful dredge material. To manage the material, COA encourages beneficial use of dredged material as a resource through a well-defined regulatory structure that effectively matches dredged materials with appropriate projects.  It is essential that the options for beneficial use be dependent on the quality of the dredged material.  For example, clean sand can be used for beach nourishment, habitat creation, and flood control projects while material that contains some contaminants can be used for brownfield remediation, and landfill closures and capping after it has been processed to immobilize the contaminants. Moreover, the development of community-based dredged material management plans are of utmost importance. These plans should be recognized by regulatory authorities and supported by the public to help ensure that only the most environmentally – and economically – sound decisions are being made.  These approaches should be developed proactively, before dredge material management becomes a crisis. COA also works to ensure that the dredged material that is being pumped onto the beach meets 

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