Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About the Great Lakes Dredging Team

What is the Great Lakes Dredging Team (GLDT)?

The GLDT is a dedicated interagency federal and state partnership that acts as a forum for both governmental and non-governmental Great Lakes dredging interests and supports timely, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable dredging practices at U.S. harbors and channels throughout the Great Lakes, connecting channels and tributaries.

What are the objectives of the GLDT?

The objectives are:

  • Contribute to the national goal of assuring dredging of U.S. harbors and channels is conducted in a timely and cost-effective manner and seek to secure support for dredging activities that can also achieve environmental restoration and enhancement goals.
  • Provide a forum to learn about and discuss priority issues related to dredging and management of dredged material to build consensus among GLDT members and facilitate the resolution of dredging issues common to the Great Lakes region among the participating local, state, tribal and federal agencies.
  • Promote implementation of relevant portions of recommendations of the interagency report on the dredging process.
  • Broker effective communications and decision making among federal and state agencies represented on the GLDT and between the GLDT and key parties in the dredging process.

Who is the GLDT?

The GLDT consists of representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Maritime Administration; Natural Resources Conservation Service; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; U.S. Coast Guard; Great Lakes Commission; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and New York. Collectively, members bring both policymaking authority and technical expertise to the team. The GLDT has both a federal and non-federal co-chair with four standing committees (steering, outreach, technical and legislation).

View our membership listing page.

What kind of work does the GLDT do?

  • Develops a biannual work plan that identifies dredging-related issues, sets priorities and presents a schedule of objectives.
  • Tasks subcommittees to research issues and make recommendations to the GLDT.
  • Employs a consensus-based approach to the prioritization and resolution of dredging-related issues.
  • Is transparent regarding activities and actions, and issue deliberations and resolution.
  • Communicates in a timely manner decisions and information on policy guidance, scientific advancements and developments in technology to members of the GLDT, state and federal decision makers and other interested parties.

How was the GLDT established?

In 1993, the Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration initiated the Interagency Working Group on the Dredging Process to evaluate problems and delays encountered with dredging the nation’s ports. After public meetings, one of the resulting recommendations was to establish a team for the Great Lakes region to provide a mechanism for timely resolution of issues by maximizing interagency coordination.

When does the team meet, and can I attend a meeting?

The Great Lakes Dredging Team holds an Annual Meeting every year in spring. To attend the meeting, see our Meetings page.

Does the GLDT produce any reports or work products?

The GLDT conducts studies, prepares reports and provides information to its members on dredging and dredging-related activities. The GLDT has done reports on the beneficial use of dredged materials, upland testing, dredging windows, a review of the decision-making process for dredging and the importance of dredging to the Great Lakes, among others. The GLDT provides a medium for achieving region-wide policy consensus, communications and outreach, information access and flow, advocacy, and legislative connectivity. Many of these products are available in both electronic and print format.
See our Publications page.

What are some things the GLDT looks to do in the next several years?

Among many other items:

  • Create opportunities for discussion and dialogue on open water placement and environmental windows to inform decision making policies at the state level.
  • Increase momentum for beneficial use of dredged material applications
  • Organize and prioritize research and design efforts
  • Communicate the best scientific information on sediment quality to support decision making policies on environmental windows and open lake placement

What’s the current situation we are seeing on the Great Lakes, and how can the GLDT do anything to promote a desirable outcome?

Continuing lowered water levels, environmental restrictions and constrained funding are creating a dredging crisis on the Great Lakes. The GLDT provides an open forum for communications about dredging issues on our Great Lakes to facilitate optimal outcomes for all. Communications may center on beneficial reuse, encouraging research and design and supporting policy development to allow for expanded opportunities for open-lake disposal and expanding the dredging windows to make better use of contractors’ time and schedules.

What kinds of issues can the GLDT help with?

The GLDT works on different issues, ranging from dredged material management to research and technologies. The legislative committee evaluate issues relating to Great Lakes dredging that are of a policy or legislative nature, the technical committee works on operations involving navigation dredging and dredged material management, and the outreach committee manages internal and external communications with stakeholders.

For more information, visit our Priorities page.

How should we contact the GLDT with an issue?

If you have any questions, comments or issues you would like to share, please fill out the Contact form.

How can I stay current on the progress of issues related to dredging and the GLDT?

Sign up on our listserv to receive newsletters, press releases, etc.

Visit the News and Events page for more information.

FAQs About Dredging

How can I initiate a dredging project in my state outside of the federal channel?

Projects outside the Federal Shipping Channel often require permitting by individual states-sometimes through multiple agencies.  Contact your state authority for more information. The information can be found on the Membership page.

Why is dredging on the Great Lakes so important?

The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh water in the world and are a valuable and unique resource. Dredging is required to construct and maintain recreational and commercial navigation channels and for safe navigation at existing harbors, shipping channels and marinas. 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.

What happens to material after it is dredged?

There are several ways to manage dredged material, including open water placement, beneficial use and confined disposal facilities. See our Dredged Material Management page for more information.

How can I find information on lake levels and the depth of various harbors in the Great Lakes region?

These websites can provide information about lake levels:

How is dredging funded? Is there a plan in place to ensure that Great Lakes harbors receive adequate funding and dredging each year?

For the 140 Great Lakes harbors (60 commercial and 80 recreational) designated as federal harbors, and for the 610 miles of federal navigation channels in the Great Lakes, dredging is funded by the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Operation and Maintenance (O&M) budget. This budget is funded through the Harbor Maintenance Tax, an ad valorem tax on waterborne cargo moved on the Great Lakes. Budget restraints created by Harbor Maintenance Tax dollars diverted to other purposes in recent years have required the Corps to prioritize harbor dredging, so most of the Corps’ O&M budget for dredging has been allocated to the Great Lakes navigation system’s busiest commercial ports. As a result of the budget limitations, there is currently a dredging backlog of over 16 million cubic yards of sediment in Great Lakes federal harbors. Efforts are underway by navigation stakeholders in the Great Lakes to advocate for full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax funds for their intended purpose, and a reduction of the dredging backlog.

What are the challenges of dredging?

Efficient dredging comes with challenges, such as funding; having the legal authority to dredge; meeting state and federal environmental standards for dredged-material placement; real estate acquisition for potential placement facilities; the ongoing need for dredging at harbors and channels and ensuring the dredging schedule has minimal impact to plants and wildlife. The GLDT helps address these complexities and provides a mechanism for timely resolution of issues by maximizing inter-agency coordination.

If you didn’t find the answer to your question, contact us!