The WRDA of 1986: Background and Beneficial Use of Dredged Material with Particular Reference to the Great Lakes


  • Robert Ramraj


Water Resources Development Act, wildlife habitat creation, capping, beach nourishment, underwater berms, biotechnical stabilisation of shorelines, aquaculture, agriculture


In 1986, the United States Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA, 1986) with the objective of better managing some of this country's most valuable marine and terrestrial resources. Among the Act’s provisions was the authorization to initiate several new dredging projects and to deepen and widen exist mg ones across the United States and the Great Lakes region. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated for Great Lakes dredging projects. The execution of these schemes means that tens of millions of tons of dredged material both clean and polluted will have to be disposed of annually in an environmentally safe and economically sound manner. Much of the clean and lightly contaminated portion of this material may be beneficially used. A large portion of the polluted part may be disposed of cheaply and safely by employing innovative disposal techniques which have been successfully utilized in some parts of the United States, but have yet to be employed in the Great Lakes. The purpose of this paper is to review some of the ways in which dredged materials have been utilized, and to suggest some innovative disposal methods which can be successfully practised in the Great Lakes. These methods have implications for possible future research on dredging and disposal particularly in the Great Lakes region.