Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Beneficial Use of Dredged Material


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.

The Role of the Federal Standard

A number of steps need to be taken so that dredged material is used beneficially to the greatest extent possible. The NDT's 2003 Action Agenda describes a number of recommended actions intended to enhance and facilitate increased beneficial use of dredged material. One recommendation was to develop a national guidance document that explains the role of the Federal Standard in implementing beneficial uses of dredged material from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) navigation projects.

The Federal Standard is defined in USACE regulations as the least costly dredged material disposal or placement alternative (or alternatives) identified by USACE.  Disposal or placement must be consistent with sound engineering practices and meet all federal environmental requirements, including those established under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA).

The Role of the Federal Standard in the Beneficial Use of Dredged Material was developed as a guide for USACE Districts, other federal agencies, state agencies, local governments and private interest groups. The Federal Standard Paper provides guidance on using dredged material as a resource to achieve environmental and economic benefits and is intended as a companion piece to the Beneficial Use Planning Manual.