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Framework for Dredged Material Management
May 2004
range of dredged materials, both clean and contaminated, and the broad array of
management alternatives, confined (diked nearshore or upland) disposal, open-water
(aquatic) disposal, and beneficial use. This document does not present guidance on
evaluation of the No-Action alternative as required for evaluation under NEPA.
Application of this framework will facilitate decision making across the statutory
boundaries of the MPRSA, CWA, and NEPA. The technical framework and guidance
established herein should reduce confusion by both regulators and the regulated
community in all future evaluations.
This framework provides only a general overview of other non-environmental
factors to be considered in decision making. An in-depth discussion of all decision-
making principles regarding selection of a preferred alternative is beyond the scope of
this document. The reader is referred to applicable USACE regulations (33 Code of
Federal Regulations (CFR) 320-330, 33 CFR 335-338, Engineer Regulation (ER) 1105-2-
100) for further guidance and information on procedures employed by the USACE in its
required public interest review. However, this document supports the identification,
evaluation, and selection of environmentally acceptable dredged material discharge
alternatives that are fully adaptable and applicable in the broader context of decision
1.3 Background
Several hundred million cubic yards of sediment must be dredged from
waterways and ports each year to improve and maintain the nation's navigation system
and to maintain coastal national defense readiness. Alternatives for the management of
dredged material from these projects must be carefully evaluated from the standpoint of
environmental acceptability, technical feasibility, and economics.
Three management alternatives may be considered for dredged material: open-
water disposal, confined (diked) disposal, and beneficial use.1 Open-water disposal is the
placement of dredged material in rivers, lakes, estuaries, or oceans via pipeline or release
from hopper dredges or barges. Confined disposal is placement of dredged material
within diked nearshore or upland confined disposal facilities via pipeline or other means.
Beneficial use involves the placement or use of dredged material for some
productive purpose. Beneficial use options should be given full and equal consideration
with other alternatives. It is USACE policy to fully consider all aspects of the dredging
and disposal operations with a view toward maximizing public benefits. Generally,
beneficial use is an adjunct to or involves either open-water or confined placement in
some form, although some beneficial uses involve unconfined disposal (e.g., wetland
creation, island creation, or beach nourishment). Descriptions of open-water and confined
disposal processes and of the categories of beneficial use are given in Part 2.4 and in
Chapters 4, 5, and 6, respectively.
A glossary of terms is presented in Appendix A.

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