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Dredge Material Program

Ohio has eight federal commercial navigational harbors on Lake Erie. The commodities that pass through these harbors generate $25 billion a year in business revenue and support 160,000 jobs.

Lucas Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is administering, through a grant from the Lake Erie Protection Fund, a demonstration project for the farm field application of Toledo Harbor dredge material obtained from the Dredged Material Center of Innovation and beneficially used on a working farm in Northwest Ohio.  Information is available on the Lucas SWCD website.  This demonstration project will be conducted for of a side-by-side comparison of corn or soybean crop yield between two adjacent test plots of farm fields, one of which will need to have been amended with Toledo Harbor dredge material prior to crop planting.

Each year, harbors on Ohio’s north shore must be dredged to keep the shipping channels open so these commodities can move in and out of the ports. Nearly 1.5 million tons of sediment are dredged annually as summarized in this graphic. Historically, much of the dredged material was placed in the open waters of Lake Erie. However, as of July 1, 2020, that is no longer an option. 

The dredge material program has one overall goal - to improve Lake Erie water quality by addressing potential impacts from dredged material. To meet that goal, the program has two sub-goals:

  • As of July 2020, none of the material dredged is placed in the open waters of Lake Erie; and
  • By July 2025, sedimentation in the Lake Erie watershed is minimized.

To achieve these goals, Ohio is working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and local stakeholders to develop projects to beneficially use dredged sediment as a resource and add value to local communities.  Dredge material beneficial use project types have been identified for each harbor and include dredge as a farm field soil amendment, marketable soil, and for wetlands and other ecosystem creation projects.  With support from Ohio and federal partners, local managers are developing and implementing projects for each of Ohio's federal commercial harbors on Lake Erie.  If you have ideas about how Ohio can use this valuable resource, please e-mail Vanessa Steigerwald Dick.  For more information on the dredge projects underway in each of Ohio's harbors, click on the harbor resource cards below.