EWN Publications

A Multi-Decadal Assessment of Dredged Sediment Beneficial Use Projects Part 2: Ecosystem Functions, Goods, and Services

Jacob F. Berkowitz, Nia R. Hurst, Nathan R. Beane, Kevin D. Philley, and Jacob F. Jung
October 6, 2022

About This Publication

Data and observations made at > 40-year-old dredged sediment beneficial use project sites were used to link ecosystem functions (e.g., maintenance of floral and faunal habitat, energy dissipation) with an established ecosystem goods and services framework (e.g., navigation channel maintenance, hazard reduction, ecosystem sustainability). This approach works toward quantifying the full suite of positive outcomes dredged sediment beneficial use projects provide to the environment and society. Ecological functions are derived from physical, biogeochemical, and habitat processes which occur on different timeframes and to varying magnitudes, and these functional drivers control the delivery of ecosystem goods and services. For example, physically dominated ecological functions are typically delivered more quickly (weeks to months) after project implementation than functions requiring the maturation of plant communities or other biologically mediated processes (years to decades). As a result, coupling ecological functions with the resulting ecosystem goods and services informs dredged sediment beneficial use decisions by communicating the relative influence of specific design features or management actions on project outcomes. These analyses also support the development of conceptual ecological benefits trajectories across decadal timelines. Future research will be needed to improve the quantification of ecological functions, and the resulting goods and services in a dredged sediment beneficial use context. The need for better quantification tools is expected to increase with implementation of Working with Nature, Engineering With Nature, and natural and nature-based feature initiatives. A companion paper evaluates the long-term ecological outcomes of dredged sediment beneficial use project implementation, demonstrating the capacity of beneficial use projects to sustainably deliver a variety of ecosystem functions over multiple decades.

Research Projects

Dredged materials can be used to improve environmental outcomes while maximizing navigation benefits. Few studies document mid- to long-term project benefits and USACE success stories remain poorly advertised. The pur...