The first part of the meeting dealt with agency and issue updates. Jan Miller (Corps) reported that a long-awaited report to Congress on confined disposal facilities (CDFs) was winding its way through the review process. The Buffalo District has hired a contractor to compile general information on the Great Lakes CDF system as well as more detailed information about each of them. Miller expressed hope that the GLDT could review it sometime before its next meeting (October 5 - 6 in Milwaukee).
As for the TSCA/RCRA White Paper, Miller reported that Corps Headquarters had not yet addressed issues raised in the paper regarding TSCA/RCRA rule-making and potential effect on beneficial use of dredged material. Miller also discussed prospects for a Water Resources Development Act of 2000. Although no legislation has been introduced, draft provisions regarding a Florida Everglades restoration project seem to be a major impetus for moving a bill. Steve Thorp (Great Lakes Commission) indicated that the Commission is advocating several items for WRDA2000, including expansion of the Corps' program of beneficial use of dredged material to include restoration of brownfields and reauthorization of sediment management authority under WRDA'96 - Section 516.
Neil Christersen with NOAA's Coastal Programs Division and a member of the National Dredging Team discussed a draft document on coastal state dredging policies. This inventory report will be used in providing related technical assistance to states with coastal management programs. Lisa Koch, Sea Grant Fellow at the Great Lakes Commission, reported on the Commission's Beneficial Use Task Force efforts to-date. Koch indicated that progress was being made in identifying strengths and gaps in Great Lakes state regulatory frameworks for beneficial use of dredged material. Ultimately, a major goal of the Task Force is to identify priorities and concerns with respect to state and federal guidance for beneficial use. The first task force meeting is scheduled for June 27 in Chicago.
Thorp gave the Public Outreach Work Group report. Twenty thousand copies of the dredging brochure, which was released last October, have been distributed - most to GLDT members. Several thousand brochures have since been distributed through the mail and at meetings around the region. The dredging video is scheduled to be completed by the fall. Staff and GLDT members have spoken to groups and at conferences on dredging since the last meeting. An article in the Great Lakes/Seaway Review magazine included an excerpt from the brochure in its Spring issue. The Dredging Team's web site was also redesigned during the winter.
During the public outreach discussion, Dan Injerd (IL) raised an issue regarding the need for an independent perspective on dredging controversies. State and federal agencies with a regulatory role in dredging matters can be viewed as biased as can the dredging industry. Injerd asked the Dredging Team to consider this issue for its current work plan and the Team agreed. It was also decided to add the issue to the next meeting agenda in Milwaukee along with an invitation to Emily Green of the Sierra Club to talk about a recent effort pertaining to local public outreach process. Note: Thorp will explore during the summer a way to involve the GLDT's roster of local dredging advocates in responding to dredging controversies.
Discussion continued about plans for the next meeting. Thorp indicated that the format for the meeting will include a joint session with the Commission's Beneficial Use and Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Task Forces and the Great Lakes Committee of the National Association of Conservation Districts. The joint arrangement will also include a tour of the Milwaukee Port facilities, the local CDF and its beneficial use experiments as well as discussion of other water quality - erosion issues for the Milwaukee River. Dredging technologies will also be addressed. Wayne Warren (OH and GLDT Co-chair) mentioned that a major coastal resource management conference was coming to Cleveland next year (July 17-19). The GLDT could have a role such as organizing a panel discussion or convening a related event. Miller and Thorp raised the possibility of organizing a symposium on recreational boating and its connection to dredging issues and low lake levels. Coastal Zone 2001 could be the venue - to be discussed in more detail at the Milwaukee meeting.
The meeting included a field trip to the CDF where innovative efforts are underway to conserve space and implement beneficial use. For several years, coarse material (little pollution) has been mined and sold for construction purposes. Chuying Wu, with the University of Minnesota's Natural Resources Research Institute, indicated that beginning this summer an experimental machine will be installed to "clean" the sediments using a hydrocyclone. This device uses centrifugal force to separate particle sizes, thereby furnishing coarser material for acceptable uses.
Paul Eger, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, gave a presentation on a beneficial use pilot program where material from the Erie Pier CDF is used in mine-land reclamation on the Minnesota Iron Range. This project, which began a year ago and will be substantially expanded this year, is intended to reclaim wetlands in tailing basins. There are 25,000 acres of trailing basins on Minnesota's Iron Range and hundreds of these acres were once wetlands. Three thousand cubic yards of dredged material will be railed from Duluth-Superior Harbor to the site. One of the problems to be monitored is the extent that the exotic species plant purple loosestrife is propagated in the experimental plot.
A presentation was given by Jim Selegean (Corps - Detroit District) on the Nemadji River modeling work under the Great Lakes Sediment Management Program. One goal of the program is to facilitate a watershed approach to sediment management. The field trip also included a visit to places along the Nemadji River to observe bluff and bank slumping. The river runs through an extensive area of red clay subject to serious erosion problems. Silt from the watershed contributes to the sedimentation in the Duluth-Superior Harbor.
The Duluth meeting also featured a special guest speaker, L. Keith Yetter, retired dredging company executive who spent thirty years planning and conducting dredging work in the Duluth-Superior Harbor. He reflected on the many changes in dredging policy that have occurred on his watch - most notably the increased environmental regulation. Yetter acknowledged the need to deal appropriately with contaminated sediments but also lamented bureaucratic procedures which cause delays in dredging. As chair of the area's Harbor Technical Advisory Committee, he also suggested that dedicated staff in regulatory agencies working closely with the maritime industry and concerned citizens was a model for getting dredging work accomplished.
Last Modified: November 04, 2002
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