It can be both a positive and negative force, though more commonly I must think it falls to the side of evil if you will. The potential environmental effects of maintenance dredging are generally two-fold, firstly as a result of the dredging process itself and secondly as a result of the disposal of the dredged material. During the dredging process effects may arise due to the excavation of sediments at the bed, loss material during transport to the surface, overflow from the dredger whilst loading and loss of material from the dredger and/or pipelines during transport. The extent to which maintenance dredging and/or disposal might effect marine features in an site highly varied and site specific. These factors include:
* Magnitude and frequency of dredging activity.
* Method of dredging and disposal.
* Channel size and depth.
* The size, density and quality of the material.
* Intertidal area.
* Background levels of water and sediment quality, suspended sediment and turbidity.
* Tidal range.
* Current direction and speed.
* Rate of mixing.
* Seasonal variability and meteorological conditions, affecting wave conditions and freshwater discharges.
* Proximity of the marine feature to the dredging or disposal activity.
* Presence and sensitivity of animal and plant communities (including birds, sensitive benthic communities, fish and shellfish).
There can be significant beneficial improvements from the use of clean maintenance dredgings to enhance mudflat and saltmarsh habitats, and to mitigate losses of intertidal land through sea level rise and capital dredging operations.
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