The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized its rule that places restrictions on the Central and Western Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Sites, a step toward reducing or eliminating open water disposal of dredged material in the Sound.
In designating dredged material disposal sites, the EPA is not authorizing any disposal, but rather making those areas available for potential future disposal. Any dredging projects wishing to use the disposal sites will have to obtain authorization, which would apply only to that specific project, and comply with stringent ocean disposal regulations.
The Final Rule works to encourage use and development of alternatives to open-water disposal, like nourishing area beaches with dredged sand. The rule proposes the creation of a standing, interagency “Steering Committee” and “Regional Dredging Team” for the area, which would be made up of federal and state agency representatives. The groups would identify, develop and promote alternatives to open water disposal as well as review proposed dredging projects. They would also work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to understand how materials from dredging projects should be handled.
The rule was subject to a public comment period, which ended in March. The EPA received 119 comments, which can be viewed with agency responses at the EPA website.