- On 26th July 2016
- In General, Research and Development, Sediment Management
- By William
Sediment management is a global challenge on account of the sheer vastness of its impact and the associated costs. With regards to dredging activity, much of the sediment that is dealt with exists as a ‘sink’ within a catchment or watershed, which is downstream or in direct contact with associated historic or current industry. Consequently, dredged sediments in particular are often associated with contamination and even when sediment is found to be inert, negative connotations assume that the sediment quality in these areas is poor.
In reflection of this view, previous management of sediments has been predominantly myopic and even now, dredged sediments are automatically categorized as a waste material under the European Waste Framework Directive (hazardous or not). However, sediment management is a multifaceted science and plays a role in many major socioeconomic and environmental issues, including, but not limited to; climate change, economics, industry and green infrastructure as well as water quality, ecology and ecosystem services including coastal and flood defence. Consequently, a more well-rounded and innovative approach to sediment management is warranted.
William recently attended the 5th International Symposium on Sediment Management (I2SM) 2016 as a scientific committee member and representative of Exo Environmental and the Using Sediment As a Resource (USAR) European initiative. Held in Montreal, Canada and running from the 10th -13th July, it brought together open- and like-minded experts in their respective fields, all with the common aim of addressing the sediment management issues faced by society, such as those listed above. Through knowledge transfer, networking and open discussion, I2SM provided a valuable platform on which to further enhance our understanding of this complex industry and generate progression and opportunity within the sector.
One of the major topics discussed was the beneficial reuse of dredged sediments as a resource in future infrastructure developments, further highlighting the need for the inclusion of architects, city planners and government organisations to facilitate a more holistic approach. It is therefore the task of dredging consultants and waterway managers to lead the evolution of integrated approaches to sediment management. This will involve overcoming obstacles and opposition, including debunking the myth that ‘all dredged sediment is a waste’ and changing mind-sets to view dredged sediment as a valuable resource. This can all be achieved through enhanced understanding, highlighting opportunity and conveying the multiple benefits of this approach to all project stakeholders.
A plethora of other topics were presented. A non-exhaustive list includes;
– reuse in flood defences, roads and other infrastructure,
– sampling technology, methodology and in situ analysis,
– valuation and financial assessment,
– contamination and remediation,
– human and environmental health,
– agricultural practice,
– erosion control,
– upstream sedimentation prevention, and
Overall, a very successful few days! Now all that remains is the application of this wealth of knowledge, the identification of beneficial reuse opportunities and the development of a pioneering approach to sediment management.