New use for dredged silt?

Gary of Grand Haven asked, "The Army Corps of Engineers and the dredging companies are always looking for a place to dispose of the river silt. Why not mix it with a little bit of road salt and really spread it on the streets when it snows?"
Mark Brooky
Feb 11, 2013



Gary thinks his solution would provide a free and non-polluting (the sand part, anyway) alternative to road salt, and would recycle harmlessly back into the environment.

"Road crews could use less salt and gravel, saving money," he wrote. "Seems like a win-win solution for finding a use for the sand and stretching the road maintenance budget."

It's great that you're thinking out of the box, Gary. Some great things have been invented by people like you.

However, this idea just won't float, said Tom O'Bryan, chief of the Lake Michigan Area Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is required by law to place the clean, sandy material that they dredge in the nourishment zones along the shoreline to compensate for the navigational structures interrupting the littoral drift along the shoreline," he explained. "Littoral drift is the natural movement of sand in the shoreline currents, and when these currents are interrupted by the navigation structures, the sand builds up on one side and erodes on the other side, depending on the wind direction and location of the harbor in the Great Lakes."

O'Bryan said the material they dredge from the Grand Haven harbor that isn't suitable for placing in the nourishment zones is more like top soil.

"And I am sure that it would make the roads and cars extremely dirty," he added, "and not solve the issue with snow and ice." 

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@Gary- Why do you think there is already such a low demand for this "silt"? We do not do this because it is bottom of the poopie channel garbage! Very little of what's dredged from the GH channel is actually "clean sand" as O'Bryan nicely stated. That and most of us have vehicles that are nice enough that we don't want them covered in poop!


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