Could placement of dredge material in existing/designated placement areas impact natural resources, including colonial bird nesting sites?

Most of the Dredge Material Placement Areas (DMPA’s) that exist and are utilized within the Port are areas that have been in existence since the channel was dredged to -47 feet in 1970s-80s.  The levees within these placement areas are raised periodically to allow for placement of more material, but for the most part, the footprints of these placement areas have not been otherwise expanded.  The Port and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) collaborate on placement of material to maximize use of existing placement areas. 

The USACE also explicitly prioritizes beneficial use of dredge material, per the following passage from their website:

“An important goal of managing dredged material is to ensure that the material is used or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Much of the several hundred million cubic meters of sediment dredged each year from U.S. ports, harbors and waterways is disposed of in open water, confined disposal facilities and upland disposal facilities.  Most of this dredged material could be used in a beneficial manner instead, such as for nourishment of beaches with clean sand or development of wetland habitats.The National Dredging Team(NDT) recognizes dredged material as a valuable resource that can be used in environmentally beneficial ways.”

Dredge material from Port maintenance and new work dredging is placed in a variety of upland and aquatic habitats (including estuarine and tidal marsh) where erosion has occurred due to acute disturbance (e.g. storms) or chronic impacts (e.g. currents, ship wakes). Studies indicate recovery to pre-placement conditions occurs within a year from the temporary disturbance from placement of dredge material. 

The Port of Corpus Christi Authority works closely with the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program on bird studies and programs.  These programs include providing access to CBBEP staff to conduct bird surveys and do predator management as well as providing funding for creating, enhancing or restoring habitat and nesting areas. All of the dredge material disposal sites designated for the Channel Improvement Project are in regular use.  Dredge material is conveyed into these areas via a pipe carrying a slurry of sediment and water; any disturbance to birds utilizing the placement area is localized and temporary.

Coastal Bird Program

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