An experiment was performed to test an alternative dredging strategy for the Westerschelde estuary. Clean sand dredged from the navigation channel was disposed seawards of an eroding intertidal flat in order to modify morphology and hydrodynamics, improving the multi-channel system with ecologically productive shallow water habitat. Five years of intensive monitoring revealed that part of the disposed sediment moved slowly towards the flat, increasing the very shallow subtidal and intertidal area, as planned. The sand in the impact zone became gradually finer after disposal, possibly due to reduced current velocities. Nevertheless, no changes in macrobenthic biomass, density, species richness and composition were detected in the subtidal zone, also demonstrating rapid macrobenthic recovery. In the intertidal zone, no ecological effects could be revealed superimposed on trends associated with long-term sediment fining. Thus, despite morphological success and absence of detected negative ecological impacts of the experiment, new beneficial habitat was not created.
- Beneficial use
- Sustainable dredging