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Figure 1. Location of the Providence and Upper Narrangansett Bay (lower panel) and harbor and channel areas to be dredged (upper panel)
ERDC TN-DOER-E12
July 2000
Demonstration of the SSFATE
Numerical Modeling System
PURPOSE: This technical note presents a demonstration of the SSFATE (Suspended Sediment
FATE) model. SSFATE fulfills a need for a suspended sediment plume modeling tool that enables
the user to quickly and cost-effectively simulate multiple dredging project scenarios. The flexibility
inherent in SSFATE, coupled with an ability to simulate most commonly used dredge plants (e.g.,
bucket, hydraulic pipeline, or hopper) and dredging practices (e.g., barge or hopper overflow,
multiple plants operating simultaneously), is intended to assist in the negotiation process of
reasonable, objectively defined environmental windows. This note exemplifies an application of
SSFATE for an actual dredging project involving consideration of environmental windows.
BACKGROUND: The U.S. Army Engineer District, New England (NED), prepared a Draft
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Providence River and Harbor Mainte-
nance Dredging Project (U.S. Army Engineer District (USAED), New England, 1998). Comments
received on the DEIS recommended that dredging be allowed only at certain times (environmental
windows) to minimize potential impact to marine resources. Because the proposed project is
estimated to last 18 months with 24-hr/day dredging, constraints on periods when dredging is
allowed would extend the schedule even longer. The NED is conducting additional studies to
determine whether the use of environmental windows is justified both environmentally and
economically. Modeling of the plumes generated from the dredging process to determine the extent
and duration of such plumes is one component of these additional studies. This component provided
an ideal opportunity for an initial demonstration of the SSFATE model.
Under contract with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC),
Vicksburg, MS, Applied Science Associates, Inc. (ASA) was responsible for the development of
the SSFATE model. Because of this development and ASA's experience in modeling various
processes in Narragansett Bay and the Providence River, ASA was retained by NED to conduct a
modeling study to aid in addressing environmental issues identified during interagency coordination
at the DEIS. The modeling study involved an application of SSFATE to estimate total suspended
solids (TSS) concentrations and the spatial extent of suspended sediment plumes generated by the
dredging operation, as well as an application of ASA's WQMAP modeling system (ASA 1997) to
compute the concentration of copper in the water column (Swanson, Isaji, and Ward 2000). A series
of sites were selected along the channel for generation of suspended sediment plumes. Different
bucket types and barge overflow protocols were chosen to simulate the range of expected actual
conditions. This technical note describes only the SSFATE application component of the modeling
study.
DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY AREA: The Providence River and upper Narragansett Bay
(Figure 1) are connected to Rhode Island Sound through the east and west passages of Narragansett
Bay. The Providence River in the Harbor area down to the upper end of Fuller Rock Reach is
approximately 500-m- (1,700-ft-) wide. It continues to widen to its mouth at Conimicut Point located

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