Flanders to investigate re-use of dredged sediment

Summary

The Flemish region is co-operating with three other countries on a project that will test and develop uses for sediments dredged from waterways

Test embankment

Together with water management authorities from the UK, France and the Netherlands, Flanders’ Waterwegen en Zeekanaal (W&Z) will study how sediments from canals and other waterways can be recycled and re-used in, for example, embankments.

Earlier this week, the water management authorities initiated a new research project that aims to develop a sustainable strategy to deal with dredged sediments. The EU-funded project USAR will identify, develop and test new methods, tools and business models.

W&Z is responsible for the management of Flanders’ canals and rivers as well as the ports on the region’s territory. To keep them navigable, W&Z must keep them free of accumulating sediments, mainly by dredging them. The removal of these sediments also reduces the risk of flooding.

But all that clay and sand that’s being brought to surface needs to be transported and stored. Today this is done by dumping it in a landfill – a costly and wasteful operation.

One potential application would be the re-use of sediments as building material for embankments and the construction of flood zones. W&Z has built a test embankment on the river Scheldt near Dendermonde in the framework of the Sigma Plan, which protects Flanders against flood risks.

The project focuses on the re-use of both “clean” and contaminated sediments – in which heavy metals are present, for example. Handling the latter is still a major challenge.

Photo courtesy West Country River Trust