A key role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is to provide safe, reliable, and efficient waterborne transportation systems (channels, harbors, and waterways) for movement of commerce, national security needs, and recreation. Accomplishing this mission successfully requires dredging of channels to adequately meet the needs of waterborne transportation. Operating and maintaining the nation's harbors and waterways, which includes the placement and/or management of dredged material, is an increasingly challenging task. The Corps has made it a priority mission to plan and implement sound management of dredged materials.
The Corps' Engineering Regulation (ER) 1105-2-100 mandates that the Corps Districts develop a Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) for all Federal harbor projects where there is an indication of insufficient placement capacity to accommodate maintenance dredging for the next 20 years. The DMMP is a planning document that ensures maintenance-dredging activities are performed in an environmentally acceptable manner, use sound engineering techniques, and are economically warranted. The plan will address a full range of placement alternatives thereby ensuring that sufficient placement capacity is identified for the next 20 years.
The DMMP will establish the "base plan" for the fate of the sediment dredged from the channels serving the Port of Baltimore. The base plan (or Federal standard) is defined as the least costly, environmentally acceptable method of discharging the dredged material, consistent with sound engineering practices (see 33 CFR Part 335). Currently, the base plan for material dredged from the harbor area (that is, in the Patapsco River upstream of the North Point to Rock Point line) is Hart-Miller Island, and for the Bay channels it is open water placement.
The base plan is developed from a national perspective and considers, but is not bound by, state or local regulations. In many cases such as for the Baltimore Harbor and Channels Project, a non-Federal sponsor is required to identify the project's dredged material placement sites. A locally preferred plan can be identified other than the base plan. In such instances, the costs above those that would have been required for the base plan are either a non-Federal or shared responsibility, depending on the placement site. If the placement site is an approved Federal project, costs above the base plan are shared between the Corps and the non-Federal sponsor. If the placement site is not an approved Federal project, the non-Federal sponsor would be responsible for all costs above the base plan costs.
In general, costs of water resources studies and projects are shared between Federal and non-Federal entities. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986 (Public Law 99-662) revised the cost sharing provisions by putting greater emphasis on the non-Federal sponsor's role in funding Corps studies and projects. Subsequent WRDAs have established/revised cost sharing for various dredged material placement options and environmental restoration projects. Although the percentage of the non-Federal share varies depending on the type of study or project (see ER 1105-2-100, Appendix E-13), the non-Federal share usually consists of some combination of the following: in kind services, a cash contribution, and real estate interests.
Public Law 99-662, as amended by WRDA of 1996, defines the non-Federal share for harbors and waterways projects by specifying percentages. Public Law 99-662 further delineates the projects by type, including studies and the pre-construction engineering/design for navigation projects, the construction and ongoing operations & maintenance of navigation projects, and special navigation programs (e.g., removal of wrecks or drift and debris removal). The percentages will vary depending on the type of study, or in the case of general navigation features, the channel depth. Public Law 99-662 also specifies the procedures to formulate and determine the non-Federal cost share of land creation projects at harbors.
It is also Corps policy to fully consider all aspects of the dredging and placement operations while maximizing benefits to the public. Beneficial use options for the dredged material should be given full and equal consideration with other alternatives. The DMMP shall include a detailed assessment of all feasible beneficial use alternatives, which may include agricultural use (topsoil), shore protection, wetland restoration, creating wildlife habitats, etc.
The Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (CENAB) goal is to develop a comprehensive, regionally supported DMMP that develops a long-term strategy for providing viable placement alternatives for the dredging of the Port of Baltimore Federal Channels. The DMMP process will encourage public involvement and allow the consideration of state and local dredging needs.