Beneficial Use at Deer Island: A Decade of Design and Implementation

Author(s): Roth, W.; Mears, W.; Keith, D.; Ramseur, G.

Deer Island, just offshore of Biloxi, Mississippi, provides habitat for native fish and bird species and wintering sites for migratory birds, and the nearshore area is utilized by recreational fishermen throughout the year.

In response to the continual shoreline land-loss at the island, a beneficial use (BU) site at Deer Island was completed in 2003 as a joint effort between the State of Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mobile District using dredged materials to restore some of the lost habitat. The BU site was designed to restore 52 acres of the island’s intertidal marsh and chenier using 400,000 cubic yards (CY) of dredged material. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed a significant portion of the restoration area; erosion of the interior marsh area has continued since that time.

Utilizing lessons learned from during and after the construction of the 2003 BU site at Deer Island, new design concepts were developed for the repair and expansion of the site. A containment berm will be constructed along the northern shoreline of the island. Approximately 350,000 CY of dredged material will initially be placed into the existing and new expansion BU areas. The material will be placed at numerous discharge locations within the containment areas to create variation in the finished elevation and to enhance habitat diversity. The western alignment of the containment and control berm will be left open to promote circulation and habitat formation as the dredged materials consolidate. The "open-ended" design will also allow for future expansion of the site.

With the implementation of Mississippi State Law § 49-27-6161, planners, engineers, and contractors participating in design efforts involving excavation of marine sediments in the State now have an obligation to integrate BU of dredged material as a placement option. Proposed BU locations, including Deer Island, along with the sediment testing guidance is presented in the Master Plan for the Beneficial Use of Dredged Material for Coastal Mississippi1 (the Master Plan). Developing and implementing the Master Plan provides a starting point for future maintenance and new work dredging projects in Mississippi, with a global goal to retain this valuable resource within the coastal estuarine environment.
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1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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