The Toledo Harbor Sediment Reduction Project is a pilot project by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to demonstrate how upland erosion control can reduce sediment delivery and dredging needs in the Toledo Harbor. This report will summarize the project activities and accomplishments including:
- Project Activities
- Project Accomplishments
- Conclusions and Future Recommendations
The Port of Toledo is one of the Great Lakes busiest, with annual shipping values reaching into the tens of millions of dollars. The Port also represents the most severe dredging problem on the Great Lakes, accounting, on the average, for one-fourth of all the dredging dollars expended each year to maintain Great Lakes harbors. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers spends, on the average, $2.2 million dollars each year to remove an average of 850,000 cubic yards of sediment to maintain the ship channel to twenty-six feet of navigable depth (Sohngen et. al, 1998). When the additional long term costs of constructing and maintaining confined disposal facilities to accept the dredged material are included, average annual dredging costs approach $4-5 million per year.
In addition to the economic costs associated with dredging, there are numerous environmental costs and issues. Foremost of these are the two issues of open lake disposal and the construction of new confined disposal facilities.
Currently, part of the dredged material is disposed of by dumping in the open lake. There are various viewpoints by both resource management agencies and the general public as to the environmental acceptability of this practice. State and/or Federal Environmental Protection Agencies must issue permits under the water quality regulations to allow open lake disposal of the dredged material. These agencies have indicated that future permits may be at risk unless satisfactory progress is made towards alternatives which will reduce the frequency of dredging and/or open lake disposal.
The dredged material which is not disposed of in the open lake is placed in confined disposal facilities. These facilities are filling up and eventually there will be a need to find additional space for that material which must be disposed of in a confined disposal facility. Siting and construction of new confined disposal facilities is difficult because of the lack of available space on land, the environmental concerns of placing new facilities in the lake, and the costs involved.
Long-Term Management Study (LTMS)
For the previously mentioned reasons, and to insure the long term economic viability of the Toledo Harbor, Congress instructed the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to work with Federal, State and Local Resource Management Agencies to carry out a team approach to solve the dredging problem in Toledo Harbor. In April of 1992, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works directed the Corps of Engineers to form a group to develop a Long Term Management Strategy (LTMS) for the Toledo Harbor. The group consisted of representatives from:
United States Environmental Protection Agency
City of Toledo
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Toledo Port Authority
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Corps of Engineers
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Ohio Lake Erie Office
The group organized into an Executive Committee, which consisted of leaders of the above named agencies, and a study team which consisted of the agencies corresponding technical specialists. These groups met over a period of several years to develop the Long-Term Management Strategy for the harbor. As the study team carried out its deliberations, it became apparent that due to the magnitude of the problem, no one element or agency could solve the dredging problem on its own. The strategy, which was eventually adopted and outlined in the phase III report, contained several key elements including:
Each of the elements selected would make a significant contribution to reducing the dredging problem. Therefore, goals were assigned to each of the components in the Long-Term Management Plan. The goal assigned to agriculture was to reduce sediment originating from agricultural sources by an amount that would reduce dredging by 130,000 cubic yards (or 15%) each year. The 15% annual reduction in dredging is compared to the amount dredged in the 1992 reference condition.