Water: Dredged Material Management
Conference on Managing Sediments in the Watershed: Background and Objectives
The National Dredging Team (NDT) and Subcommittee on Integrated Management of Ocean Resources (SIMOR) brought together over 200 watershed planners, dredged material/sediment managers, and other participants in Portland, Oregon, for a Conference on Managing Sediments in the Watershed. This conference, which was held in August 2006, provided a unique opportunity for dialogue among a diverse array of stakeholders who often do not have the chance to meet and coordinate, but who all share a concern for sediment and water resource management.
- Why a conference to bring dredged material and watershed managers together?
- What are the benefits of coordinated planning?
- What were the objectives of this conference?
Sediment and dredged material management planning often occurs outside the context of watershed management plans. Many resource projects are designed to remedy local sediment problems and may potentially result in larger problems some distance from the project. Additionally, watershed management planning may fail to incorporate dredged material and sediment system considerations, such as competing demands for sediment, or potential beneficial use opportunities. This can result in missed opportunities to improve navigation, flood and storm reduction efforts, and environmental quality in water resource projects; it may also result in a loss of beneficial use opportunities.
Although planning often occurs separately, sediment management and watershed management planning share similar goals. Both seek to control upstream erosion and pollution, which may improve downstream water quality, reduce the need for dredging, and improve downstream sediment quality. Recognizing that sediment is a resource also benefits both sediment and watershed managers. Using dredged material beneficially, such as for wetland restoration or shore protection, helps preserve aquatic resources, can reduce the amount of sediment removed from a system, and can reduce the amount of material that requires disposal.
Coordinating watershed and sediment/dredged material management can result in economic and ecological benefits. Coordinated planning may decrease the need for dredging and dredged material disposal sites. It can increase leveraging of funds and cross-program sharing of technical and regulatory capabilities, while also resulting in more efficient permitting for dredging projects. Coordinated planning can potentially help reduce contaminants entering the system, as well as reduce soil loss and waterbody siltation. Better coordination can also result in increased beneficial uses of dredged material and increased protection of natural resources.
The NDT and SIMOR held this Conference on Managing Sediments in the Watershed: Bringing Dredged Material and Watershed Managers Together to promote better communication among dredged material and watershed stakeholders. In addition to facilitating dialogue among dredged material and watershed managers, the conference objectives were to identify steps needed to:
- Include dredged material and sediment management in watershed plans.
- Include a broader watershed perspective in dredged material management planning.
In addition, Conference participants were able to identify:
- Current responsibilities and interests in dredged material management in the watershed.
- Existing and potential areas of technical and planning intersection.
- Gaps in knowledge or management of sediment in the watershed.