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    Evaluation of the Significance of Waterway Sediment-Associated Contaminants on Water Quality at the Dredged Material Disposal Site

    Published: 01 January 1977

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    During the past few years, considerable interest has developed concerning the significance of chemical contaminants associated with dredged sediments. Research has been done on the factors influencing the release of contaminants from waterway sediments and the toxicity of these sediments to various forms of aquatic life. This study has shown that the only two compounds which are released in potentially significant amounts to affect water quality at the disposal site are manganese and ammonia. The other compounds studied including heavy metals, chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and aquatic plant nutrients are either not released, released in insignificant amounts, or taken up as a result of mixing the sediments with the overlying waters under conditions which simulate typical dredging and dredged material disposal.

    Bioassays conducted of the elutriates of the sediments with the sediments present show that, in general, large concentrations of contaminants can be present in dredged sediments which would have little or no effect on water quality at an in-water disposal site. These results show that the bulk chemical criteria that have been used frequently by pollution control agencies to establish the method of dredged material disposal are not a technically valid approach for determining the significance of contaminants associated with natural water particulate matter. In fact, in some instances, the methods of dredged material disposal which have been adopted because of excessive concentrations of contaminants based on bulk chemical criteria may have been more detrimental to environmental quality than the previously used methods of dredged material disposal.


    water analysis, toxicology, dredging, bioassay, elutriate test, sediments, water quality

    Author Information:

    Lee, GF
    Professor and graduate student, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Tex.

    Mariani, GM
    Professor and graduate student, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Tex.

    Committee/Subcommittee: E35.26

    DOI: 10.1520/STP32400S