US Army Corps of Engineers
Galveston District

Laguna Madre Updates

This dredging contract (as with all of our dredging contracts) is conducted in accordance with Dredge Material Management Plans (DMMP) as per federal regulation. 

The DMMP was prepared with the guidance and close coordination of the Interagency Coordination Team. The team considered several alternative methods for dredging and placement of shoaled material in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to identify the least environmentally damaging alternative that was within the engineering capabilities of the USACE and was economically feasible. The team reached consensus on the DMMP and its findings are in the document linked above (Fact Sheet).

Placement Area 233A was chosen, according to the DMMP, because disposal in this location would avoid seagrass and minimize the effects of the turbidity plume (discharge from the pipe). To be specific, the site was chosen because it is least environmentally damaging location because of the lack of seagrass. 

Although not attractive to view in its slurried form, the dark liquid bubbling to the surface is dredged material that was taken from the nearby GIWW channel bottom. Essentially, the material is being relocated from the channel bottom to facilitate commercial navigation, such as barges carrying petrochemical products to the Rio Grande Valley. It's important to note that the material shown in the video is in fact staying within the same ecosystem. 

The dredger is required by our contract to place the dredged material in a thin placement type manner. It's unclear whether or not this video shows a violation of that requirement because of the low tide (we will further investigate), however, staff can confirm that that the contractor is placing the dredged material in the required location and has been moving the discharge pipe as required in order to ensure that a mound does not form.

Staff will investigate this manner further and perform any necessary corrections to ensure our contractors are operating in the Laguna Madre and will continue to seek ways in which we can reduce, mitigate or eliminate negative impacts with each project we undertake while being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars. 

We appreciate the local community’s commitment to raising concerns about this project and encourage feedback and welcome further discussions about any of our projects.

Update

GALVESTON, Texas (March 4, 2014) - The contractor is finished placing dredged material in the Laguna Madre open bay placement area. Work is still being conducted however, the material will now be placed in an upland placement area.

GALVESTON, Texas (Feb. 14, 2014) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District staff appreciates the local community’s commitment to raising concerns about this project and for following up with us regarding the protection of our ecosystem. Seagrass provides many essential functions that keeps our bays healthy and reduces erosion, which is why we are working with our partners and environmental experts to mitigate any permanent damage to this essential habitat.

Staff reviewed the contractor's data and found that the contractor has placed the material in a manner that meets the intent of the contract's specifications. Additionally, they reviewed the number and locations of discharge points and quantity of material placed in each corrido and is satisfied that the results comply with the contract requirements. Quality assurance personnel have made 10 inspections over a two-month period, some in concert with the contractor directly on site and some performed as visual inspections from the bank. 

We are working with our partners to manage resources and dredging activities in a sustainable manner, one in which leaves behind the smallest footprint and we will continue to seek ways in which we can reduce, mitigate or eliminate negative impacts with each project we undertake while being good stewards of the taxpayer dollars.

For more information about this project, contact the Public Affairs Office at swg@usace.army.mil.