Dredging Operations and

Environmental Research

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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    Providing research to meet the complex economic, engineering, and environmental challenges of dredging and disposal in support of the navigation mission. Learn more about DOER Focus Areas.

  • Corbino; Discharge Behind Rocks

    Focus Area: Dredged Material Management

    To develop and validate models, software, and guidance documents for dredging operations.

  • Corbino; Bird Island West

    Focus Area: Environmental Resource Management

    To develop measures that adequately protect environmental resources while allowing dredging operations to proceed.

  • Corbino; Hydraulic Unloader

    Focus Area: Sediment and Dredging Processes

    To meet the operational dredging research and development needs.

  • Corbino; Filling Marsh Grass

    Focus Area: Risk Management

    To develop quantitative methods and tools to support risk analysis of the environmental and economical benefit/cost associated with available dredge material management options.


The DOER Program

The Dredging Operations and Environmental Research Program (DOER) supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operation and Maintenance Navigation Program. Research is designed to balance operational and environmental initiatives and to meet complex economic, engineering, and environmental challenges of dredging and disposal in support of the navigation mission. Research results will provide dredging project managers with knowledge and technology for cost-effective operation, evaluation or risks associated with management alternatives, and environmental compliance.


May 2024
Journal Article Presents Results from a Review of Microplastics in Sediments Across the Contiguous US and Provides a Supporting Online Database

Researchers Collaborate in Multi-Institution Investigation to Develop State of Texas's Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Master Plan

Journal Article published on Predicting Outcomes of Tier III Environmental Testing of Dredged Material Using a Machine Learning Approach

April 2024
The ERDC and Villanova University Perform Geotechnical and Geophysical Investigation of a Confined Disposal Facility in Support of Beneficial Reuse of Dredged Material

USACE Technical Representation to the 47th Scientific Group of the London Convention and 18th Scientific Group Meeting of the London Protocol

View Archived Highlights


Program Leaders

Focus Area Leaders

Focus Areas

Dredged Material Management
Dredged Material Management
Dredged Material Management
Dredged Material Management

Management of sediment produced from dredging navigation channels is becoming more challenging as environmental, economic, and societal drivers evolve. The objectives of this focus area are to develop, validate, and provide technology transfer of innovative numerical models, applications, methodologies, and guidance to promote USACE and dredging stakeholder use for more efficient, environmentally sound, and cost-effective methods of dredging/handling/transport/placement of dredged material. These products address issues that include (but are not limited to) regulatory and habitat aspects concerning dredging processes and dredged material placement, and assessment and optimization of beneficial use of dredged material utilizing EWN and RSM principles. Dredged material management tools, methods, and guidance developed in this focus area will be used to:

  • 1) reduce cost and time for regulatory compliance and permit approval,
  • 2) improve operations at reduced costs,
  • 3) increase dredged material placement options, and
  • 4) expand the beneficial uses of dredged material.
Environmental Resource Management
Environmental Resource Management

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Montgomery

Environmental Resource Management
Environmental Resource Management

Stewardship of environmental resources is an established priority during the planning, construction, and maintenance of navigation projects. The objective of this Focus Area Research is to develop critically needed, effective protective measures that adequately protect environmental resources, while allowing dredging operations to proceed in an economically feasible manner. An emphasis is placed on quantitative-based research that provides forward-looking solutions to potential project benefits and/or impacts of USACE navigation projects on environmental dynamics, particularly as these projects pertain to Threatened and Endangered Species and sensitive habitats. This research generates end products that identify cost effective engineering and construction alternatives to existing constraints. Given the likelihood that without an expanded pertinent knowledge base dredging costs will continue to escalate, the potential Return on Investment in this research is extremely high.

Risk Management
Risk Management
Risk Management

The Risk Management focus area supports research and development of innovative, risk-based technology and approaches to improve cost efficiencies and sustainability of dredged material management. Deliverables include models, procedures/guidance, interpretive tools, and new technologies. While the primary emphasis of the focus area is the development of practical, technically defensible, cost-effective tools and technologies, a secondary objective is the proactive identification and assessment of emerging issues potentially affecting risk-based management of dredged material in the future. Work product performance objectives include reductions in operational cost and environmental liability as well as contributions to improved transparency and technical defensibility.

Sediment and Dredging Processes
Sediment and Dredging Processes
Sediment and Dredging Processes
Sediment and Dredging Processes

The objectives of this focus area are to develop accurate methods to measure dredged sediment properties and processes, improved sediment fate models, and guidance for beneficial use. These capabilities are required to support evolving USACE dredged sediment management objectives. The majority of sediment dredged by USACE is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. The transport dynamics of these mixtures are complex. Inherent uncertainty in measuring and evaluating mixed sediment fate reduces USACE capacity to efficiently manage dredging operations and open water placement. Uncertainties are reduced by accurate methods to measure sediment transport in the field, quantify sediment processes in the laboratory, predict sediment transport using numerical models, and developing guidance based on case studies. These methods permit USACE to reduce uncertainties, thus improving transport evaluations required to:

  • 1) demonstrate regulatory compliance,
  • 2) beneficially use dredged material,
  • 3) support RSM and EWN objectives,
  • 4) quantify benefits and risks of alternative dredging methods,
  • 5) develop exposure estimates for risk assessment, and
  • 6) efficiently certify/manage dredged material placement sites.


DOER Research Fact Sheets

A one-page presentation of a currently funded DOER research unit used to present a problem, a study description, products, and a summary.

Technology Transfer Link

Learn more about DOER research publications.

EWN Link

Engineering with nature is an excellent investment which can provide many benefits.

News Link
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Last updated on 6/7/2024.