Sediment is more than mud

The high deposits of farm-runoff sediment entering Muscooten Bay is referred to as “Mud.” Dredged material consists of rock, gravel, sand, silt, clay, and organic matter, and most commonly a mixture of these. Beneficial uses of dredged material include habitat development, beach nourishment, parks and recreation, cultivation (including composting), land reclamation, construction, industrial, and multipurpose uses.

Evaluating the contaminant status of the dredged sediment is the first step to determine if the sediment is acceptable for beneficial use. Refer to guidance documents for addressing contaminant issues. In general, highly contaminated sediments will normally not be suitable for most proposed beneficial use applications and particularly for proposed wildlife habitat development projects. However, after appropriate examination, testing, and treatment, the sediment may be classified as suitable. Dredged sediment from ongoing activities (maintenance dredging) should be reevaluated periodically to ensure that the sediment contamination level has not changed since the last dredging cycle. Guidance for evaluating the contaminant status of dredged sediment can be obtained from local, state, or national regulatory agencies.

Capping is a beneficial use of dredged material and is one of the methods to re-vegetate abandoned ash ponds of coal-based thermal power plants thereby lowering the risk of contamination to the surrounding environment. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
  • The addition of dredged sediment can improve the physical and chemical characteristics of marginal soil. Some placement sites, especially in river systems, have provided livestock pastures.
  • Improvement of marginal timberland with applications of dredged sediment. There are several rapidly growing pulpwood species that could be grown in large placement sites with several compartments once the compartments are nearing completion.
  • Four beneficial uses of dredged sediment that are relatively new concepts have proven to be feasible in laboratory, field, and District tests: 1) the reclamation of abandoned strip mine sites that are too acidic for standard reclamation practices; 2) the capping of solid waste landfills, 3) the use of sediment to protect landfills; and 3) the use of sediment to manufacture bricks and hardened materials such as road surfaces.
  • A park and recreational development built over an existing solid waste landfill using dredged sediment as a cap is an example of how several of the beneficial uses can be lumped into a single multipurpose project.
  • The economic potential and social productivity of industrial/commercial activities provide a strong incentive for urban growth and development. These activities have flourished in natural harbors and along urban waterways where raw materials can be received and finished products shipped most economically. Industrial/commercial development near waterways has been aided by the availability of hydraulic fill sediment from nearby dredging activities.