Sediment Use

Corn grown in sediment-amended soil is harvested in Oakley Township.

Beneficial use of dredged sediment

Sedimentation in lakes and streams is a major problem in many places. Dredged sediment was traditionally considered as “spoil”, a waste material to be disposed of as cheaply as possible. In recent years, research has increased on opportunities to use dredged sediment for agriculture, landscaping, construction or other beneficial purposes.

The City of Decatur is implementing a phased plan to dredge portions of Lake Decatur over a period of about 15 years. With funding from the City, AWI conducted a number of small-scale demonstration projects and wrote a booklet on potential beneficial uses of sediments dredged from Lake Decatur . The sediment was found to be similar to good quality, fine-textured Illinois agricultural soils in terms of physical properties, nutrients, organic matter and other characteristics. Crops grow well in sediment-amended soils so application to fields where topsoil has been eroded is one potential use.

Our report, Potential for Beneficial Use of Lake Decatur Sediment, June 2005, is available free from the Decatur Water Department or AWI. In addition to results of the local small-scale demonstrations, the report contains examples and web links for beneficial use of sediments from the Illinois River and Great Lakes . This is AWI’s first contract research report. As AWI grows, we hope that contract research, as well as grant-funded projects, will be a significant source of income.