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WEDA Environmental Committee Meeting Focuses On Ways to Educate the Public

The lively discussion among the fifteen members of the Environmental Committee held during the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) Conference was not unusual. This is a dedicated group that year after year has been attempting to create a framework aimed at encouraging a dialogue between the community at large and the dredging industry.

Chaired by Craig Vogt, the group plunged into its agenda full speed ahead. A brief report was given about last year’s activities between WEDA, CEDA and IADC during a meeting in The Hague, which was followed up by a transatlantic telephone conference call between Beverly Fedorko (New York Shipping Association), Anna Csiti (Central Dredging Association) and Constantijn Dolmans (International Association of Dredging Companies) in The Hague, Marsha Cohen (Terra et Aqua) in New Jersey, Craig Vogt (then-Environmental Protection Agency and chair of the WEDA Environmental Committee in Washington D.C.) and Philip Spadaro (Arcadis) in Seattle. This collaborative brainstorming is scheduled to continue at a joint meeting in Panama in March 2009 where WEDA and CEDA’s environmental groups will come together.

Outreach Is the Keyword

Outreach remains the single most important issue for the committee. Various members reported on their existing outreach programs. For instance, Polite Layborie, of the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, who recently became the new chair of the CEDA Environmental Commission, explained the emerging CEDAWiki which is in preparation. CEDAWiki is an initiative to establish a web site where free, accurate and up-to-date information can be found about dredging. Members will be asked to make contributions and no anonymous contributions will be allowed. The topics are pre-defined and the CEDA editorial board will evaluate the information.

Layborie and Marsha Cohen also presented the newly published Environmental Aspects of Dredging book, edited by the IADC and CEDA Editorial Boards under the leadership of Nick Bray of H.R. Wallingford. The single volume Environmental Aspects of Dredging book (386 pages) replaces the seven-volume series of the same name with updated and upgraded material. Contributing authors were sought from all parts of the world to give a balanced view of the state of the art of environmental dredging.

Robert Engler of Moffat and Nichol suggested that the committee have a look at the Corps of Engineers web site for the pre-kindergarten through high school section. Aimed as a support for teachers, the site has had millions of hits since its inception a few years ago. Beverly Fedorko mentioned the success that New York Shipping Association (NYSA) has had with its web site (www.nysanet.org), What does the Port Mean to Me? Fedorko also recommended the exhibition at the Liberty Science Museum in Newark entitled The Hudson Our Home. Working with the museum NYSA has helped them set up an exhibition which devotes a good part of its attention to the economic importance of the Hudson River and the Port.

Gary McFarlane of Mar-Land Engineering Ltd. recounted his experiences in a Canadian project at Hamilton Pier in which they used a holistic approach to the problem of storm water management, and his ideas about working with nature were formulated. It was pointed out that this theme seems to have ripened in the dredging consciousness because several publications have recently been issued with this theme in mind, including a new organization in the Netherlands called EcoShape (www.echo shape.nl); a book by Ronald Waterman, to be published this summer in English and Dutch entitled Building in Harmony with Nature; and PIANC’s WG 14 Dredged Material as a Resource, Lindsay Murray and Anders Jenssen, editors, to be released in the next half year, and other PIANC publications.

The WEDA Environmental Committee’s conclusion was that there is a significant amount of good reference material available, but it is not necessarily reaching the target audience. Taking note of Gary McFarlane’s thoughts on working with nature, the WEDA environmental group decided to develop the idea “Doing the Right Thing” as an outreach idea. Beverly Fedorko took the lead, and with Gary put together a proposal that has been submitted to the WEDA Board of Directors. The question is of course: time and money. Now the committee is awaiting the Board’s reaction.

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