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Regional Sediment Management

Regional Sediment Management (RSM) is the practice of handling sediments and maintaining engineering projects not only to achieve local project goals, but also to benefit the region as a whole. The region of interest is defined by the sediment transport pathways and rates affected by the local project. The Great Lakes RSM Demonstration Site being studied spans from Ludington, Michigan south to Burns Harbor, Indiana. This 172-mile region contains 12 Federal structures and 1 private jetty system (Port Sheldon, Michigan).


RSM Authority

    The Great Lakes Regional Sediment Management Demonstration Program was initiated by the Corps of Engineers, Detroit District in FY 2001 in conjunction with the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory in Vicksburg , Mississippi under the authority of Section 516, WRDA 1996. By gaining state and local government support for policies that help protect the unique Great Lakes environment, Regional Sediment Management will strive to address weaknesses in current coastal management practices. Regional Sediment Management (RSM) refers to the management of nearshore, estuarine, and riverine sediment within physical, not political, boundaries where sediment exchange occurs naturally. A "region" may include a variety of beaches, bluffs, inlets, rivers, estuaries, bays, and communities. Implementation of RSM recognizes that a coastal system is made up of many interconnected ecosystems. Affecting one ecosystem can alter how the rest of the coastal system functions.

    Corps laboratories, along with partners from federal, state, and regional governments and academia, are pursuing a rigorous investigation of a regional sediment management approach to solving sediment related problems. The RSM research program is developing tools and knowledge necessary to understand the effects of sediment management actions at both local and regional scales. The program is developing methods and procedures to design regional sediment plans. The studies include all landscapes, from the upper watershed to the coastline. Major products resulting from the research include a watershed sediment budget tool that can be used to rapidly assess the impacts of upstream watershed activities on downstream channels; morphology modeling systems for coast and river systems that predict long-term, large-scale morphology changes; and a framework for developing RSM plans and implementing RSM in the field. A RSM Demonstration Program documented that managing sediment on a regional scale can result in significant cost savings and increased benefits. Because regions may extend beyond the limits of Corps projects and, at times, beyond District boundaries, many stakeholders with varied objectives and disciplines must become involved. Often, the Corps is the facilitating agency in developing regional sediment management plans, as is also the agency with the technological skill and capability to assess the impact of alternative plans.

    Research areas within the RSM program are interrelated, with research staff providing information and capabilities to one another, and producing information and capabilities that will be incorporated into RSM tools. RSM focus areas include (a) River-basin morphology modeling and management, (b) Coastal morphology modeling and management, (c) Sediment processes and assessment, and (d) Sediment management methods. The work areas fall into five categories; (a) Basic sediment processes, (b) Engineered solutions, (c) RSM tools, (d) Informatics, and (e) Technology transfer and insertion. For more information on the National demonstration program, please visit Engineering Research and Development Center's (ERDC)web site.

Click here to go to the USACE, Engineering Research and Development Center Coastal and Hydraulic Laboratory RSM Research Program.


Recycling Dredged Material in the Great Lakes

Click here to go to the Great Lakes Commission's web site for information on potential ways of recycling dredged material for beneficial use.