Corps of Engineers awards contract for Presque Isle Bay study

Published July 23, 2015
Proposed dredged sediment placement locations of the Presque Isle Bay Tracer Study.

Proposed dredged sediment placement locations of the Presque Isle Bay Tracer Study.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District awarded a contract for $473,116 to URS Cooperation and Baird Inc., July 6 to conduct a beneficial use of dredged material tracer study at Presque Isle Bay, Erie, Pennsylvania.

The goal of this project is to trace how sediment naturally moves in the system, to determine if sediments dredged from Erie Harbor can be beneficially used to nourish and potentially accelerate the growth of the distal end of the Presque Isle Bay peninsula.

“Finding a long term solution to managing dredged material is essential to maintaining Erie Harbor,” said Craig Forgette, USACE Buffalo District project manager.  “By using natural processes we aim to maximize benefits, thereby reducing demands on limited resources, minimizing the environmental footprint of dredging in Erie Harbor, and enhancing the quality of long term dredging benefits.”

"Presque Isle's peninsula and bay are vital to Erie's economy and identity and must be nurtured respectively through shore replenishment and dredging,” said Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03).  “Harbors throughout the Great Lakes need dredging in order support a strong navigation system, and so it only makes sense that we would try to reuse these dredged materials in a beneficial way whenever possible. I commend the innovative work that the Army Corps is doing as a result of commonsense reforms that I was proud to support in the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act."

Dredged sediment from Erie Harbor is physically characterized as fine sand, silt and clay, not suitable for direct placement upon the beach. The study will look to see if these sediments could be suitable for placement in the nearshore zone to provide beach nourishment benefits through two mechanisms: (1) Placement of dredged material in the nearshore zone may allow the material to self-sort and some fraction of the material is incorporated in the littoral drift system; (2) Placement of dredged material off the eastern tip of Gull Point creating an underwater shelf that may allow littoral sands coming from updrift to deposit on the underwater shelf and naturally build up the beach profile and eventually result in the growth of Gull Point and possibly increase the overall growth rate of Gull Point.

The tracer study is part of Buffalo District’s partnership with the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center’s Engineering with Nature (EWN) Program, that looks to enable more sustainable delivery of economic, social, and environmental benefits associated with water resources infrastructure. EWN directly supports USACE's "Sustainable Solutions to America's Water Resources Needs: Civil Works Strategic Plan 2011 - 2015" and contributes to the achievement of its Civil Works Mission and Goals. EWN is the intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaborative processes.

“Periodically dredging 140 interconnected harbors maintains the functionality of the Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS), a system that fulfills an important role for our economy and ultimately our national security,” said LTC Karl Jansen, USACE Buffalo District commander.  “We are continually exploring ways to beneficially use dredged sediment as a resource such as habitat restoration, beach / littoral nourishment, or capping over contaminated areas of the aquatic environment.  Strong collaborative partnerships paired with local leadership will pave the way towards sustainable dredged material management across the Great Lakes.”    

To learn more about EWN please view our website at to submit ideas for an EWN project or for potential EWN partnership opportunities, please contact us at:

Andrew Kornacki

Release no. 15-016