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Open-Lake Placement of Dredged Materials on Western Lake Erie Basin: Beneficial or Too Green?

  • October 22, 2014
  • 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM
  • Chef's Restaurant, 291 Seneca St, Buffalo, NY 14204


**we'll be in the large room in the back this time**


The Federal Standard for the management of most material dredged from Toledo Harbor Federal navigation channels is open-lake placement, as it is the least costly, environmentally acceptable alternative that is consistent with sound engineering practices. Open-lake placement of the dredged material occurs at a designated placement area in Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). In 2003, a large Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) event occurred in the WLEB in the same year in which the quantity of Toledo Harbor material dredged from the basin and placed at the open-lake placement area was significantly increased by USACE. Since then, and following the large HAB events of 2008 to 2011, there have been recurring concerns about the amount and intensity of annual HABs, and the potential exacerbating influence over external nutrient loads posed by open-lake placement of dredged material. There is no professional peer-reviewed documentation or scientific consensus that open-lake placement has the potential to significantly influence HABs. Nevertheless, to further address the concerns specific to Toledo Harbor dredged material management and HABs in WLEB, the USACE commenced a study in 2013 to assess the relative contribution of open-lake placement of Toledo Harbor dredged material to bioavailable phosphorus, HABs production and water clarity/turbidity.

The major factors of concern with regard to dredged material placement in WLEB are: phosphorus release from the dredged sediment (exacerbating HAB development); changes in turbidity; and the horizontal transport of the material potentially leading to the transport of suspended solids and nutrients to other vulnerable parts of WLEB, such as the City of Toledo and City of Oregon potable water intakes.  To further evaluate these pathways, a sampling and analysis program was instituted including water quality monitoring before, during and after dredged material placement operations, along with sediment sampling from the placement area and sampling of dredged material placed in barges.  These data were used as input to the Western Lake Erie Ecosystem Model (WLEEM) and to corroborate its simulation of the WLEB response to all of these forcing functions.

The coordinated field sampling, laboratory testing and modeling program resulted in the several lines of evidence indicating that the open-lake placement of Toledo Harbor dredged material has no measurable impact on HABs in WLEB.




Ms. Galloway received her B.A. degree in Chemistry from Bowdoin College and her M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from the Indiana University.    Ms. Galloway has 28 years’ professional experience in the environmental field and is currently the Quality Assurance (QA) Director and Chief Chemist at Ecology and Environment, Inc.  She provides broad oversight for hazardous and mixed waste investigation/remediation, emergency response, and multidisciplinary environmental programs, including major contracts with EPA, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).  She was chemist and QA officer for the high profile USACE project to study the influence of open-lake placement of dredged material on Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Toledo Harbor.  

Mr. Florentino is a principal geologist at Ecology and Environment, Inc.’s headquarters in Lancaster NY.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at the State College of New York at Oneonta, and a Master of Science degree in Geology at the University of Akron Ohio.  He is a Licensed Professional Geologist in the state of Pennsylvania; a past BAPG president; and currently the treasurer for the New York State Council of Professional Geologists (NYSCPG).  Mr. Florentino is the project manager for the Toledo Harbor “Influence of Open Lake Placement of Dredged Material on Western Lake Erie Basin on Harmful Algal Blooms” for USACE Buffalo District.

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