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Framework for Dredged Material Management
May 2004
present, the organisms which recolonize the site may be different from those present prior
to disposal.
Suspended solids may also affect water column organisms, although these effects
are uncommon because of the large dilution factor. Potential physical effects are
addressed during the site designation/specification process. If at all possible, a site should
not be located where significant undesirable effects will occur on or off the site. Prior to
disposal, the physical characteristics of the material should be evaluated to determine if it
is compatible with the use of a particular site. Models are frequently used to predict the
behavior of the material during and after disposal, and, in some instances, monitoring
may be needed to verify the model predictions. Both USACE and USEPA have generated
a large database on potential physical effects through the large number of site-designation
surveys performed nationwide.
If site conditions and uses are unchanged, collection of additional data to evaluate
direct physical impacts would generally be unnecessary for evaluation of a proposed
discharge of material under MPRSA because such impacts were evaluated as a part of the
site-designation process as well as during the site monitoring and management activities.
However, for Section 404 open-water disposal, direct physical impacts must be
considered as a part of the site-specification process for the specific discharge. Under
both MPRSA and CWA, appropriate site management and monitoring concerns must be
4.2.2 Site Capacity
The physical capacity of predominantly nondispersive sites to hold the dredged
material without (1) resuspension and transport of disposed material by surface waves or
(2) interference with navigation traffic or other operational conflicts, must also be
evaluated. This may involve (1) setting a maximum height for mounds of disposed
dredged material or (2) estimating mounding rates over the long term, taking into account
erosion and consolidation of the mound (Dortch et al. 1990; Scheffner 1991; Poindexter-
Rollings 1990). Site capacity of predominantly dispersive sites is not normally a concern.
4.2.3 Need for Management Actions
If the evaluation of direct physical impacts and evaluation of site capacity indicate
that the site is adequate, the evaluation of contaminant pathways can be initiated. If the
evaluations of direct physical impacts and site capacity indicate unacceptable impacts
will result, or that site capacity is inadequate, management actions are required to reduce
physical impacts. Management actions to reduce physical impacts to acceptable levels
may include operational modification, submerged discharge, lateral confinement, or thin-
layer placement. These same management approaches can be considered to extend the
physical capacity of the site. Management actions are described in paragraph 4.4. If the
management actions are determined to be effective, the evaluation of contaminant
pathways can be initiated. If not, then the open-water disposal alternative at the site under
consideration should be eliminated.

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