Great Lakes Dredging Team Meeting Summary
October 6-7, 1999
The eighth meeting of the Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) began with updates and workgroup reports. The Public Outreach work group report was provided by Steve Thorp and Victoria Pebbles. Thorp announced the availability of four dredging case studies (Brown County, Wisconsin; Duluth-Superior Harbor; Port of Toledo; and Waukegan Harbor) online and in hard copy. Possible topics for additional case studies were discussed, including Ashtabula, Ohio, Grand Calumet, Indiana, Saginaw, Michigan and Presque Isle, Pennsylvania. Thorp also announced the availability of another GLDT public outreach product – a booklet entitled Dredging and the Great Lakes. Allocations were proposed for each state and federal agency on the team and members were asked to confirm their allocation by October 20. Thorp also discussed work on a dredging video. It was agreed that the Commission should work with USEPA to obtain environmental dredging footage for part of the video. Pebbles announced two new features on the web site: a New Scoop page to highlight new dredging-related information and current events in the region and a page for the case studies. Pebbles also discussed plans for activating the "dredging around the lakes" page using a map as an interface to link to geographic-specific information.
Linda Sorn of the US Army Corps of Engineers-Chicago District provided an overview of Corps' authorities for environmental dredging and beneficial use, including:
At the last GLDT meeting, issues were raised as to why these authorities weren't being used more in the region. In response, Sorn presented a draft survey intended to gather this information from the Great Lakes states. Team members were requested to review and comment on the draft survey by October 20.
Greg Hill, chair of the watershed planning working group, highlighted the DMMP process as a mechanism to incorporate provisions of the Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with the goal of taking a watershed approach to sediment management and reduction. Hill discussed the goals of such an effort, and a process for proceeding, including assessment and analysis. References were made to other watershed planning and non-point source control efforts. It was noted that all of the DMMPs in the region were either completed or near completion, so there was little opportunity to integrate watershed planning into the DMMP process. However, members were still interested in opportunities to integrate dredging issues/concerns into larger watershed planning efforts, particularly nonpoint source control. A lengthy discussion ensued where different possibilities were raised for GLDT involvement/action on this item, but there was no general agreement on next steps. It was agreed that soil erosion and sedimentation are issues of concern to the region and the team and that the team will continue the discussion of what role it can play to advance this issue from a dredging perspective, possibly elevating it to the National Dredging Team.
The GLDT reviewed a summary of the work plan history, which included summaries of each of the working group activities. Co-chair Wayne Warren asked if there were additional areas where the team should be more active. Suggestions included the area of alternative technologies for contaminated sediment treatment; refining the role of the GLDT in watershed planning; and using the public outreach working group to match up Corps' beneficial use dollars to local project needs (i.e., through the local advocates).
Jan Miller from the US Army Corps of Engineers provided an overview of WRDA ‘99 provisions with relevance to the Great Lakes, including navigation projects, environmental dredging and beneficial use of dredged material, and a new John Glenn Great Lakes Basin program, among others. Miller also provided an overview of Energy and Water appropriations for FY2000 for Great Lakes Corps Districts. Miller then presented an analysis of recent changes in federal regulations and their implications for dredged material management, including beneficial use. The analysis raised the need for clarity on some regulatory issues. There was much discussion on this issue. The team will be working to refine the analysis and will explore creating a work group to address issues raised in the analysis.
Victoria Pebbles announced the commencement of a Great Lakes Commission project to facilitate state input into the development of federal guidance for beneficial use and develop a brochure on beneficial use in the Great Lakes Basin. Pebbles noted that GLDT members would be asked to identify representatives from their state or federal agency to serve on the task force being created for the project.
Mark Werner from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services discussed Wisconsin's risk assessment process for potential development of standards for agricultural land application of PCB-contaminated material. The impetus for this type of assessment came from a request from Brown County, which has applied biosolids to agricultural lands on a case by case basis, but wanted state guidance for the development of a more permanent program, specifically one that could include the use of dredged material. The risk assessment revealed that in order to be protective of human health and the environment, the PCB-contaminated material would have to have very, very low levels of PCBs–so low that the standard would effectively prohibit any PCB-contaminated material from being applied to agricultural lands. Some concern was raised as to whether the results of this analysis would hamper other efforts to promote beneficial use, which are aimed at applications that further remove contaminants from the food chain (i.e., construction material, habitat development).
Continuing on the risk-assessment theme, Todd Bridges of the Corps' Waterways Experiment Station (WES) presented the WES approach to risked-based evaluation of aquatic disposal. He noted several WES products that can help practitioners in their dredging-related risk-assessment activities, particularly a guidance document on ecological and human health risk for aquatic disposal of dredged material. Bridges also noted that WES was undertaking development of a similar guidance document for upland disposal and discussed the methodology and application for dredged material management decisionmaking.
Co-chair Bonnie Eleder provided an update of the USEPA Region 5 beneficial use work group and noted that EPA will be working with Wisconsin and others to come up with draft guidance on beneficial use.
Michael Carter and Sharon Lin from the National Dredging Team (NDT) provided updates on various NDT activities and requested the GLDT members comment on a draft revised action plan for the NDT. Lin also noted the recent release of An Assessment of the U.S. Marine Transportation System: A Report to Congress, which includes recommendations related to dredging and channel design. Also, GLDT members received a guidance document on how to elevate issues from the regional level to the NDT.
Final presentations were given on Great Lakes water levels and their connection to dredging. Frank Quinn of NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory discussed water levels and climate change and their implications for dredging over time. High water levels over the past several decades, Quinn noted, have masked historic lows, distorting the industry's and the public's perception of dredging needs to maintain navigation channels and recreation harbors. Scott Vowinkel of the Corps' Great Lakes Regional Office discussed the implications of varying lake levels on the corps' dredging activities and on the shipping industry. Vowinkel also discussed impacts on future Corps' dredging activities and disposal options if low lake levels persist.
The Co-Chairs concluded the meeting by soliciting a request for agenda items/topics for discussion for the next meeting. Items/topics mentioned included: a continued discussion to clarify the role of the GLDT in watershed planning; continued discussion or presentation of WES' upland disposal guidance; new technologies in contaminated sediment cleanup; and an update on the Corps/EPA report on Great Lakes CDFs.
Last Modified: November 04, 2002
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