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Beneficial Use of Dredged Material

John Huang, Ph.D., PE and John Poullain, PE

This three hour online course provides an overview for the planning, design and selection of dredged material as a manageable, beneficial resource as an alternative to normal methods of disposal. Land creation with dredged material often consists of filling, raising and protecting areas that are periodically submerged. The type of areas considered in this course are parks, agricultural, forest, solid waste landfill, industrial, commercial and residential use. Habitat development, which includes wetland, island and aquatic habitats, is not discussed here.

Urban sprawl has reduced the availability of dredge disposal areas, which has increased the cost of dredging by increasing the distances to available disposal areas. Environmental restrictions have also increased costs of disposal. Dredged material can be a valuable commodity by placing in beneficial use areas while also increasing land available for many purposes including land developmental uses. Among the factors for the end user to consider are physical, engineering and chemical characteristics and the transport and handling of the material.

Course or fine-grained materials may be used for land creation. The types of dredged materials will determine the suitability of how the land can be used. For instance, fine-grained material requires a long time to drain and consolidate. Development of such land may be limited to recreation uses; parks or where the imposed loads are required to be low because of the resulting weak soil strengths. The time and availability of suitable dredged material often limit the type of land use. Sound and careful long term planning and design can overcome these constraints. Also it should be noted dredged material contaminants usually fall within acceptable limits. However, contaminated dredged material can be reused in several beneficial ways as fill material, for construction and environmental projects. And as raw material for manufacturing building products such as building blocks, tiles and top soil.

Land disturbed by construction activities causes soil erosion and possible migration of sediments. Sediment contains soil particles and possible petroleum products, metals, chemicals, corrosive acids, pesticides, organics or other pollutants. Onshore and offshore borrow sources must be investigated for contaminants. A construction site must be investigated for a wide range of conditions, including ground water level, surface drainage, subsurface ground conditions and existing animal habitat. Dredging may have adverse physical effects on the habitat when not properly planned. Certain precautions can be taken to minimize the impact of dredging activities especially from offshore borrow dredging. You are required to study the following US Army Corps of Engineers Manual: Chapter 5 (sections V to VIII excluded) of Beneficial Use of Dredged Material, EM 1110-2-5025 (2015 Edition, 126 pages).

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.