‘Use-Local’ Sediment Policies Bring Resilience and Industry Bonuses
New Round Island illustrates perks of using local dredge material in restoration projects.
Eight years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, ongoing restoration demands massive amounts of good-quality sediment. The State of Mississippi’s “use local” policies and incentives save industry dollars and meet sediment needs through the reuse of dredge material from nearby Mississippi Sound. These actions keep tons of dredge soil out of landfills and the ocean while boosting storm resilience for the city of Pascagoula and protection for one of the state’s largest bird rookeries. The state’s Office of Coastal Resource Management, which oversees Mississippi’s Coastal Management Program, is coordinating this multi-agency effort.
On uninhabited New Round Island in 2016, about 2.5 million cubic yards of dredge material from the nearby Pascagoula River Channel were used to restore nearly 220 acres of sand and beach habitat. Biologists in 2017 found the rookery had grown to one of the state’s largest, with seven shorebird species and more than 3,000 nests. New berms, more than seven feet tall, helped save nesting birds from 2017’s Tropical Storm Cindy. Island vegetation now being planted will lessen erosion and flooding in Pascagoula, which is three miles away. In the coming years, people will be able to visit the island for outdoor recreation.
According to a Mississippi statute, any party with a permit to dredge over 2500 cubic yards must take part in the state’s "beneficial use" dredging programs, as long as a beneficial use site is available and the dredge material is suitable. Mississippi’s incentive—a tipping fee of up to fifty percent of the fair-market cost to transport and dispose of the material in an approved upland site —represents a major savings over dumping this material upland. Clearer permitting requirements and a protocol for sediment quality testing are other pluses.
This project benefited from state coastal program funding as well as coordination by Mississippi’s Coastal Preserves, Beneficial Use, and Wetlands Permitting programs. Other project partners include Mississippi’s Secretary of State and Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The New Round Island project received funding support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. (2019)
Partners: Mississippi’s Secretary of State, Department of Environmental Quality, and Office of Coastal Resources’ Coastal Management, Coastal Preserves, Beneficial Use, and Wetlands Permitting programs. Federal partners include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency