The Great Lakes are a valuable and unique resource. The use of this resource for recreational and commercial navigation requires the continued maintenance of harbors, ports, marinas and shipping channels throughout the Great Lakes, Connecting Channels and tributaries (hereafter referred to as the Great Lakes ). Dredging is required to construct navigation channels and to maintain depths for safe navigation at existing ports and harbors. Dredging is also required to construct and maintain other important facilities, such as water supply intakes, bridges and utility crossings and for the remediation of contaminated sediments.
Dredging and the management of dredged material have been the focus of considerable research, evaluation, and coordination among State and Federal agencies responsible for these activities on the Great Lakes . The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Federal Water Pollution Control Administration (predecessor of EPA) collaborated in a 2-year study and pilot-program on Great Lakes dredging and disposal practices in 1968-9 (USACE 1969). In 1970, Congress authorized a program for the confined disposal of contaminated dredged material from Great Lakes harbors. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1987 Protocol) identified restrictions to dredging activities as an impairment to the beneficial use of the Great Lakes . States are developing and implementing Remedial Action Plans at designated Areas of Concern to address the sources of sediment contamination and remediate in-place contaminants.
Several interagency and international committees and working groups have been formed by the USEPA, USACE, Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and International Joint Commission (IJC) to work with States to coordinate dredging and dredged material management activities on the Great Lakes, resolve technical and policy issues, and develop testing and interpretation guidance.
In 1993, the Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration (MARAD) initiated the Interagency Working Group on the Dredging Process to evaluate problems and delays encountered with dredging the Nation's ports. The Working Group held public hearings at several locations, including Chicago , to obtain input and released a report of its findings in December 1994 (MARAD 1994). Among the eighteen recommendations in the report was a recommendation that Regional Dredging Issue Teams be established to "provide a mechanism for timely resolution of conflicts by involving all agencies, and maximizing interagency coordination."
The dredging problems that prompted the creation of the Interagency Working Group were the result of a breakdown in interagency coordination at a few large ports on the east and west coasts. This is not a significant problem on the Great Lakes , although there has not been a consensus among all agencies at all projects. The conditions on the Great Lakes , with over 100 harbors in eight states, are quite different from those at large ports on the east and west coasts. The laws regulating disposal of dredged material into the ocean are different from those applicable to inland waters, as well as the roles of some stakeholders, in particular, the states. However, there is a need to create a mechanism for the continued coordination and decision-making among Local, State, Tribal and Federal agencies responsible for maintaining and regulating dredging-related activities on the Great Lakes .
In order to fulfill the recommendation of the Interagency Working Group on the Dredging Process, a Dredging Team will be established for the Great Lakes region.
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The objectives of the Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT) are to:
- Contribute to the national goal of assuring that the dredging of U.S. harbors and channels is conducted in a timely and cost effective manner while meeting environmental protection, restoration, and enhancement goals.
- Facilitate the resolution of dredging issues common to the Great Lakes region among the participating Local, State, Tribal and Federal agencies.
- Promote implementation of the relevant portions of the recommendations of the interagency report on the dredging process.
- Facilitate effective communications and decision-making among federal and state agencies represented on the Dredging Team and between the Team and key stakeholders in the dredging process.
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The Great Lakes Dredging Team will consist of representatives from the following agencies/organizations:
- Department of Defense/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
- Department of the Interior/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
- Department of Transportation/Maritime Administration (MARAD)
- Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Coast Guard
- State of Minnesota
- State of Wisconsin
- State of Illinois
- State of Indiana
- State of Michigan
- State of Ohio
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- State of New York
- Great Lakes Commission
Each State may designate two representatives on the Dredging Team to assure that State natural resource and commerce interests are both represented. Each Federal and State representative can designate an alternate to represent them as needed. Collectively, the member/alternates from each Federal agency and State should bring both policymaking authority and technical expertise to the Dredging Team. The Team may expand its membership, upon consensus, to other agencies, organizations or groups.
An Executive Committee of the Great Lakes Dredging Team may be formed, as needed, to resolve significant issues and make binding policy decisions and commitments. This Committee will be comprised of one representative from each member State and Federal agency, as well as the Great Lakes Commission. Members of this Committee will be senior level executives, typically the head of a Federal regional office or State agency/division head.
A permanent Committee of the Dredging Team shall be established to address legislative matters. Chaired by the Great Lakes Commission, it will consist of all non-Federal Dredging Team members, and can act independently of the Dredging Team, if needed.
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The Great Lakes Dredging Team will be co-chaired by one Federal and one State representative. These co-chairs will be selected by the Federal Team members and the State Team members, respectively, on a biennial basis. Reasonable attempts will be made to rotate co-chair position among state and federal agencies.
The Dredging Team will meet once or twice annually, ideally in conjunction with scheduled GLC or other regional meetings. Special sessions can be requested by members and scheduled by the co-chairs as needed. Periodic conference calls may be scheduled by the co-chairs or work groups to discuss general or specific issues, particularly during a single meeting year. Under the leadership of the co-chairs, the Dredging Team will develop a work plan which identifies dredging-related issues, sets priorities and presents a schedule of objectives for the biennial cycle. This work plan will be reviewed at every Team meeting and updated biennially coincident with the selection of new co-chairs or as necessary.
The Team will task working groups or subcommittees to research issues and make recommendations to the Team. The Team will employ a consensus-based approach to the prioritization and resolution of dredging-related issues, as well as to any routine business. Dredging Team members will keep their senior agency management and other relevant agencies in their state informed of activities, actions, and issue deliberations/resolution. Members
will elevate state/agencies specific issues to the Executive Committee for decisions or policy guidance, as needed.
Meetings of the Executive Committee will be held on an "as needed" basis, as requested by the Dredging Team. Co-chairs for Executive Committee meetings will mirror the current co-chairs of the Team.
The GLC will provide secretariat services to the Dredging Team, including working with co-chairs to develop biennial workplans, organize meetings/conference calls and update the GLDT web site. Secretariat services provided are contingent upon adequate funding.
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Members of the Great Lakes Dredging Team agree to fully participate in the Team activities and will operate under this Charter. Participation is subject to agency budget constraints. This Charter is not intended to commit members to specific funding levels.
This Charter shall be effective for five years from the date of signature. Agencies can terminate their participation at any time by notifying the other parties 60 days in advance of the termination.
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