LTMS and Nutrients: What are the Implications for the Bay’s Future?

Our last workshop in the Jobs, They Help All of Us! WORKSHOP SERIES 2011 took place on Wednesday, November 30 at the URS office (1333 Broadway) in Oakland, California.





WORKSHOP PROGRAM –  Download Program PDF


  • Bay Area Dredging: Addressing Effects of Changing Regulations
  • Dredging and LTMS: Can We Meet the Challenge?
  • Nutrients: State of the Bay

Download PDF of Workshop Slides

Download Word Doc of Responses to Workshop Questions



PANEL 1: Bay Area Dredging: Addressing Effects of Changing Regulations

Moderator: Scott Bodensteiner, Manager, Weston Solutions Inc.

Over the past few years, several regulatory developments affecting dredging in San Francisco Bay have emerged. The potential cumulative impacts of these developments, associated with endangered species, essential fish habitat, and TMDL implementation, combined with the cost constraints related to fish window compliance and the LTMS reduction in allowable in-Bay disposal are a growing and significant concern for the Bay Area dredging community going into 2012. Most recently, the National Marine Fisheries (NMFS) have promulgated Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) conservation measures for dredging projects. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), NMFS initiated Programmatic EFH Consultation for Maintenance Dredging in San Francisco Bay in 2009. This consultation process resulted in the adoption of several conservation measures to be implemented under the LTMS beginning in 2011.

Perhaps the most significant new EFH conservation measures with respect to dredging in San Francisco Bay involve new sediment contaminant thresholds and protection of eelgrass beds.  The new sediment contaminant thresholds for in-Bay dredged material disposal dictate whether bioaccumulation testing will be necessary prior to dredging. The eel grass protection measures include requirements for either mitigation or inclusion of best management practices for dredging projects located within designated eelgrass buffer zones. The Bioaccumulation Trigger Values are based on ambient Bay sediment concentrations that are annually updated using data collected by the Regional Monitoring Program (RMP). This ambient concentration threshold approach is similar to the approach taken by the Water Board in the development of the mercury and PCB TMDLs. Based on 2011 RMP calculations, these ambient levels are now somewhat lower than previous thresholds, and intersect more broadly with the concentrations typically observed with Bay Area pre-dredge sediment quality evaluations. Since the new EFH measures and TMDL thresholds may potentially impact multiple projects in 2012, this forum is being convened to build on previous outreach provided by the resource agencies as an opportunity to continue the dialogue between the regulatory community and the dredging stakeholders. The key objectives will be to solicit additional guidance from the resource agencies in order to clarify the specific requirements of the EFH conservation measures, understand the likelihood and magnitude of impacts to dredging projects, and identify planning and technical tactics that can reduce those impacts while maintaining full compliance with all regulatory requirements.

An update on the status of the newly listed state and federally threatened fish species (longfin smelt) and the implications to dredging projects in 2012 will also be addressed and discussed. Without specific fish windows in place, further clarification and discussion on permit expectations and requirements for dredge projects and the associated enforcement approaches is critical to current planning efforts. 


  • Beth Christian, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • Brenda Goeden, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • Imee Osantowski, Port of Oakland
  • Bud Abbott, Principal, Environ
  • Dave Doak, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District

SPEAKER: Jim McGrath, BCDC Commissioner (confirmed)


PANEL 2: Dredging and LTMS: Can We Meet the Challenge?

Moderator: Rick Rhoads, Vice President, Moffatt & Nichol

California’s port facilities conduct a tremendous amount of commerce and serve as a key economic engine for the state.  Here, in the SF Bay Area, the Port of Oakland’s activities alone move more than 2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually and impact about 827,000 jobs nationwide.  Due to naturally shallow water depths, dredging and disposal of dredged materials are essential to maintaining port activities such as maritime trade, recreational boating and other public trust uses.  While most agree that dredging should be accomplished within environmental and economic constraints, a myriad of environmental, funding, contracting, regulatory and physical challenges make this a difficult task.

The dredging community in San Francisco Bay faces continued challenges. Constrained by narrow environmental “work windows”, difficult economic times for project owners and dredgers, and the continued implementation of the LTMS “step-down” periods, dredging project sponsors must navigate a difficult path to maintain shipping channels, harbors and marinas within project scheduling and budgetary constraints.  Upland beneficial reuse, the linchpin for the LTMS beneficial reuse strategy, demonstrates some of these challenges.  Operations at the Hamilton Wetland Restoration Project and Montezuma Wetlands Project have been successfully utilized, however, with Hamilton now full and no longer able to accept material, dredging projects must work with a more limited array of options including limited in-Bay disposal, the San Francisco Deep Ocean Disposal Site (SFDODS), and remaining beneficial reuse sites (Montezuma Wetlands, Carneros Ranch, etc).

Even with the collaborative work of agency partnerships like the Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO), the overall state of the economy, current contracting processes, and the resultant reduction in available federal and state funding levels, present challenges to a system that was already stressed. The disparity between increased dredging costs and flat funding created a need to find solutions to dredge more efficiently and cost-effectively.  Earlier this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented a value engineering study (VE Study) identifying more cost-effective tools and solutions to continue to meet the LTMS goals.  Project sponsors are anxiously awaiting the implementation of these more efficient and cost-effective solutions.  Meanwhile, project sponsors continue to face an uphill battle in sustaining dredging operations.  As we stand on the eve of the 2012 dredging season, we need to further the dialogue on how best to meet LTMS, environmental and economic growth goals given current funding constraints.   

The Bay Planning Coalition has been at the center of the issue for many years, helping to create the current set of both physical and regulatory solutions in place today. This Panel will explore the tools available today, as well as those still needed, to address the issues related to costs, disposal and reuse options. This Panel will also stimulate dialogue from the dredging and regulatory communities to identify the needed changes in dredging, regulatory, contracting and disposal practices to simultaneously promote the viability of the local Bay and shoreline habitats and restore local, state and national economic growth for generations to come.


  • James Haussener, Executive Director, California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference
  • Scott Noble, Senior Vice President, Noble Consultants, Inc.
  • Steven E. Goldbeck, Coastal Program Manager, SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • Jim McNally, Manson Construction Company
  • Tom Gandesbery, Project Manager, California State Coastal Conservancy
  • Jessica Burton Evans, Interim Navigation Program Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District

SPEAKER: Martha Sutula, Principal Scientist, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (confirmed)

PANEL: Nutrients: State of the Bay

Moderator: Bridgette DeShields, Vice President/Principal Scientist, Arcadis US

Nutrients are a natural and critical part of our environment. In excess, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to eutrophication (the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (as phosphates) that stimulate the growth of aquatic plant life usually resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen), causing increases in algae and possible toxic algal blooms, low dissolved oxygen, and impacts on the ecosystem. At the same time, the relationship between nutrients and potential impacts is complex and unique. There is no “bright line level of nutrients” to indicate that a waterbody is impaired. The evaluation and control of nutrient loading is an issue of high priority nationally and globally. San Francisco Bay has historically been resilient to nutrient loads due to strong tidal mixing, turbidity, and an abundance of filter feeders. However, recent studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and others have suggested the Bay may be losing its resiliency to nutrient loads due to a number of factors. The Bay is changing with decreased sediment supply and decreases in filter feeder populations.

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has been working on establishing a nutrient policy for a number of years, mainly focusing on freshwater systems. The San Francisco Bay Water Board along with SWRCB and other partners have recently begun an effort for the development of a Nutrient Management Strategy for the San Francisco Bay amongst other inland bays and estuaries ( The SWRCB is currently developing nutrient numeric endpoints (NNE), a science-based approach to provide numeric guidance to translate narrative objectives to sustain beneficial uses. The NNE establishes numeric endpoints based on the response of an aquatic waterbody to nutrient overenrichment (e.g. algal biomass, dissolved oxygen, etc.). The first goal for San Francisco Bay is to have stakeholders agree on a nutrient strategy.

While the management of nutrients in the San Francisco Bay is still in its infancy, it is an opportune time to engage in a discussion with stakeholders, regulators and the Bay community on this topic. Is there a nutrient problem or is there likely to be in the near future? If so, what are the issues and concerns? Which source, pathways, and processes are most important? What are the likely scenarios? Facilitating such a discussion will provide decision-makers with additional perspectives in anticipation of the development of policies and regulations for nutrients in the Bay.


  • Mike Connor, General Manager, East Bay Dischargers Authority (EBDA)
  • Dave Williams, Director of Waste Water, EBMUD
  • Tom Hall, South Bay Dischargers
  • Dick Dugdale, SF State University
  • Naomi Feger, SF Water Board
  • Larry Bazel, Partner, Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP

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