In 2005, the Governors of New York and Connecticut signed a bi-state agreement to end the antiquated practice of disposing untreated dredged materials in Long Island Sound. This was done with an understanding that a healthy Sound is critical to the health of our economy and our maritime culture. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency were parties to that agreement, and they put into motion a 10 year, $7 million process to develop a Dredged Materials Management Plan (DMMP) that would phase out open water dumping in favor of environmentally safe and sustainable beneficial reuse practices. Earlier this week the Army Corps released the final DMMP for Long Island Sound, but instead of creating a framework to reuse dredged materials in beneficial ways, the Army Corps delivered a "business as usual" plan to continue using LIS as a landfill for the next 30 years or longer. Surprisingly, many in Connecticut's State Government endorsed the plan without carefully examining the potential environmental impacts, or demanding more in the way of beneficial use alternatives. Now there is no way to stop the dumping, unless the State of New York steps in to challenge the plan.
The final DMMP makes no meaningful assessment of beneficial reuse opportunities, nor does it factor in impacts to the environment as part of it's cost-benefit analysis. The document actually extends the lifespan of the two existing LIS dump sites, while recommending that two previously decommissioned open water dump sites be reopened. The plan completely fails to meet the mandate laid out by the 2005 agreement and is a massive let-down to many in the Long Island Sound community.
Worst of all, the Army Corps blatantly ignored the voices of thousands of members of the public who attended hearings, signed petitions and wrote letters during the public comment period opposing the plan. They created the illusion of a transparent process- one with meaningful opportunities for public participation. Once the comment period was over, the Army Corps disregarded the public comments and went right for the cheapest and easiest way to dispose of these "wastes".
The truth is that the community understands and values the health of Long Island Sound, and most people want the Army Corps of Engineers to find the best and most sustainable use for those sediments. It's about looking at dredged sediment as a resource and not a waste product, but the Army Corps has shown that they are unwilling to do that. Unfortunately, the State of Connecticut doesn't seem to mind. Perhaps they honestly think that they can dump 25 million+ cubic yards of material into the sound without damaging the sensitive ecosystems it supports. Whatever the case may be, they've broken their promise to the Long Island Sound community and have betrayed the public trust.