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The USACE Philadelphia District maintains the 117-mile long New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway and multiple coastal inlets in New Jersey and Delaware. These waterways are periodically dredged to provide for safe maritime navigation. When the dredged material is clean, USACE looks for opportunities to use the material beneficially. Examples include restoring degraded marsh and creating islands, which can provide critical habitat for wildlife and enhance coastal resiliency.
These practices have occurred historically, but the concepts have gained increasing attention and focus in the years since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The USACE Philadelphia District is engaged in beneficially using dredged material in several ways:
In Spring 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District partnered with the State of New Jersey, The Wetlands Institute, and the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center to launch the Seven Mile Island Innovation Laboratory (SMIIL).
Seven Mile Island, New Jersey was chosen to host an Innovation Lab due to the presence of existing and historic dredged material placement sites, confined disposal facilities, federal and state channels including the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway, extensive tidal marshes, a mixture of sandy and muddy sediments and, a rich historic dataset to build upon. The initiative is designed to advance and improve dredging and marsh restoration techniques in coastal New Jersey through innovative research, collaboration, knowledge sharing and practical application. SMIIL is based on an international concept pioneered by the Dutch who use a “Living Lab for Mud” to test and demonstrate environmental and societal benefits.
Maintaining safe navigation channels while retaining dredged sediment in the system to benefit natural ecosystems and coastal communities. (NOTE: In December 2019, the name was changed from the Seven Mile Island Living Lab to the Seven Mile Island Innovation Lab to better reflect goals and objectives).
USACE Philadelphia District
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