ASCE and COPRI Adopt New Policies:Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Beneficial Use of Dredged Materials and Regional Sediment Management

Julie Dean Rosati, P.E.

ASCE's Board of Direction adopted two new policies on April 27, 2006, and COPRI adopted a third policy on March 14, 2006. These three policies were developed and promoted by COPRI's Wetlands and Regional Sediment Management Committee, which is chaired by Dominic Izzo, Vice President, DMJM Harris, Inc. Both of these new policies dovetail with this committee's purpose, which is to study and disseminate information on techniques for wetland restoration, creation, protection and management and for managing sediments in, or removed from, coastal and inland projects. Details of the ASCE policies can be found on ASCE's website at http://www.asce.org/pressroom/news/policy.cfm.

In Policy Statement 498 titled "Louisiana Coastal Wetlands," ASCE formally supports an integrated approach towards reducing the loss of Louisiana's wetlands through the "restoration of physical processes necessary to sustain these unique ecosystems." This policy supports the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Study as updated based on knowledge gained during the 2005 hurricane season, and recognizes that long-term Federal support is required to achieve successful management of the regional watershed and sediment system. An aggressive approach to reducing land loss is justified based on an economic analysis that shows significant cost savings in immediate restoration, as opposed to deferred restoration. The three key measures to reducing land loss in Louisiana as well as protecting infrastructure and loss of life are described as restoring natural processes as practical, integrating these natural processes with structural measures, and providing long-term support and management for coastal wetlands restoration and protection. Inherent in the last measure is a programmatic authorization of Federal Civil Works projects that allow work to continue smoothly on a long-term basis as will as methods for continuous funding.

Policy Statement 513 (PS 513)"Beneficial Use of Dredged Material" states that "all dredged sediment should be used beneficially unless it is clearly impractical to do so," and supports life-cycle management of dredged materials with stewardship of these sediments by the agencies supporting dredging projects. The policy discusses limitations with existing dredging and placement practices; including the shrinking capacity of our present confined disposal sites and coastal land loss that can be addressed through advantageous placement of dredged material. The policy concludes, "dredged sediment should not be wasted; it should be used beneficially as a routine method of business."

COPRI has adopted a third policy Regional Sediment Management (COPRI PS 01). The concept of Regional Sediment Management (RSM) recognizes that sediment is transported through the entire watershed. Engineering actions that add or remove sediment from the system, or impede its natural movement, have larger-spatial and temporal scale implications than just for the local project dimensions and lifetime. This policy promotes the management of sediment as a resource within a culture of stewardship and partnering. Natural regional geomorphologic and watershed processes should be restored and maintained through application of RSM concepts, with the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) guidelines adopted as part of the RSM approach. The policy recommends an organized system of technological exchange that will foster public education and involvement, and leverage knowledge gained in future activities