The Coastal Commission and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board established the multi-agency Los Angeles Regional Contaminated Sediments Task Force (CSTF) to strategize management of contaminated dredged sediments in this region. This is a workgroup of the Interagency Coordinating Committee (IACC) for California's Nonpoint Source Program. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board coordinates this workgroup.

What is Contaminated Sediment?

Los Angeles County has two of the nation's largest commercial ports, plus several major marinas and small-vessel harbors. Periodic dredging is needed to maintain the channels and berthing areas for these facilities. However, the extensive urbanization of the Los Angeles region has led to the discharge of pollutants from many sources into coastal waters. As a result, some of the sediments dredged from these coastal areas contain high concentrations of heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants. Disposal of contaminated dredged material requires careful management to prevent potential adverse ecological impacts and human health risks.

Dredged Material Management Team

The four regulatory agencies responsible for managing dredging activities (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, and California Coastal Commission) have formed a Dredged Material Management Team (DMMT) to review technical issues associated with proposed dredging and dredged material disposal projects.

The DMMT holds monthly meetings that are open to agency and project proponent staff to discuss upcoming dredging projects. For dredging projects that occur within coastal waters of Los Angeles County, the DMMT utilizes the CSTF advisory committee process and opens this part of the meeting to environmental groups and any other interested parties that wish to participate in the discussions.

How to Participate

To be added to the mailing list to receive CSTF/DMMT meeting agendas and project-related documents, please send an e-mail to jun.zhu@waterboards.ca.gov. Meetings can be attended by teleconference call or in person.

For more information on the Los Angeles Regional Contaminated Sediments Task Force, please contact:

Jun Zhu
Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region
320 West 4th Street, Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90013
jun.zhu@waterboards.ca.gov
(213) 576-6681

Strategies to Manage Contaminated Sediment

The CSTF released its Long-Term Management Strategy for dredging and disposal of contaminated sediments in May 2005. The Strategy recommended creation of a storage, treatment, and reuse (STAR) facility as the best long-term option to facilitate reuse of contaminated sediments.

However, in 2015, the CSTF held a one-day conference to discuss the future of contaminated sediment management, the outcome of which is that creation of a STAR facility no longer appears to be a viable management option. This is due to a lack of reliable treatment methods, difficulties in dedicating valuable port land for siting such a facility, and liability issues associated with third-party reuse of contaminated material.

It is likely that creation of Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) sites will become the best long-term option for disposal of contaminated sediments. In some cases, CAD sites may constitute beneficial reuse (e.g., habitat restoration of pits in the ocean bottom), but in many cases may be solely for disposal.