Planning a Dredging Project
Compromise Is Commonplace
Occasionally the different stakeholders ask the courts to make decisions about dredging projects. This happens after they have failed to come to agreement about some aspect of the project. Fortunately, it is rare when an acceptable compromise between competing concerns cannot be worked out. It takes creativity and flexibility on the part of people representing concerns on all sides of an issue. All uses of a resource must be considered.
Which resource uses have priority is sometimes a matter of law. A project that was congressionally authorized for commercial navigation cannot be dredged only for the convenience of recreational boaters. In rivers that are home to endangered fish and wildlife species, protection of these species and their habitats must, by law, be a priority in the project plan. If impacts to a protected species cannot be avoided, the dredging project cannot be done.
On many projects, compromise is relatively easy. For example, suppose there are times during the year when disposal on a particular upland site would disturb the nesting or rearing of a species of waterfowl. If this were the only special consideration, dredging might be scheduled to avoid those critical times. If the dredging had to be completed during the critical nesting time to prevent or alleviate unsafe channel conditions, disposal could perhaps take place at an alternate site that did not impact birds.