Sediment Testing for Dredging Projects

Permits are required for dredging submerged areas pursuant to Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands and/or Part 301, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. If the Water Resources Division (WRD) is able to permit your dredging project, dredge material characterization is required by the DEQ. Sediment testing results need to be submitted with a permit application to be evaluated as part of the proposed project.
Dredge material may generally be placed on-site with clean cover and a deed restriction without testing. On-site means an upland location contiguous to the water body where dredging occurs, and is under the same ownership. If you wish to dispose of the material on-site with clean cover and a deed restriction, the required Restrictive Covenant form is available for your use.
Sediment testing may be waived for dredge projects less than 2000 cubic yards in volume, in areas that are not:

  • a designated test area, or
  • other areas of suspected or known contamination, or
  • an area where DEQ staff have required sediment testing.

By not testing the material, you could be accepting liability for contamination.
For all other projects, if you plan to place dredge material upland, outside a licensed municipal solid waste landfill or a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confined disposal facility (CDF), testing of the sediments will be required to determine if the dredge material is contaminated and considered a solid waste. The testing is required pursuant to Part 115, Solid Waste Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA), and it's administrative rules. A flow chart is available in the Dredge Sediment Review - DEQ Policy and Procedure visually outlines and summarizes the projects requiring sediment testing.

If you believe that the bottom sediments are sand (90 percent or more of the particles remain on a No. 200 sieve), then an applicant may elect to conduct a sieve grain size analysis on a minimum of six representatively sampled sediment samples using U.S. Standard sieve number 200. Report the results for each of the discrete sample locations as a mass percentage of retained sediments. If the mass percentage retained on the No. 200 screen is 90 percent or greater, no additional sediment testing may be required.
If the material is less than 90 percent sand or the applicant did not elect to conduct this sieve analysis testing, then according to Rule 118 the waste must be representatively sampled and tested for both total concentrations and leachable concentrations of contaminants (using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure [TCLP] extraction or the Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure [SPLP]). A minimum of six discrete samples collected to project depth and analyzed separately for the first 10,000 cubic yards, and one additional sample for each 10,000 cubic yards thereafter must be analyzed for the following parameters:

  • 7 Metals (arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium and zinc)
  • Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PNAs) 
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) if the project is on one of the following bodies of water: Detroit River, Rouge River, Raisin River, Kalamazoo River, Saginaw River, Saginaw Bay, Manistique harbor, and canals that connect to any of the listed bodies of water

Sample locations must properly characterize the dredged sediments.
You may wish to complete the total analyses first as an initial screen. If you choose this approach, be aware that if the total concentration for a given parameter exceeds 20 times the Type B groundwater value or the Type A Default Background Criteria for metals, the leachate test will be required. Quality control and quality assurance data from the laboratory should be included with the analytical results. Tables containing the required method detection limits and review criteria are available for your reference.

Data may be submitted with the permit application, or submitted to the WRD field staff person requesting the testing data directly.  Please reference the DEQ file number when submitting data.
If you have questions contact the appropriate district. A map showing the DEQ's WRD district offices and their telephone numbers is available.