Water Resources

Problems in Managing Disposal of Material Dredged From San Francisco Bay Gao ID: RCED-90-18 November 8, 1989

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to designate new disposal sites for dredged material in the San Francisco Bay area and ensure that environmental damage at existing ocean and bay disposal sites was within acceptable limits.

GAO found that: (1) the Corps has not designated needed disposal sites because it has not completed required environmental studies; (2) the Corps delayed the studies because EPA found that the Corps' 1988 feasibility study made questionable assumptions about safety in deciding not to study potential disposal sites beyond the continental shelf and included cost estimates generated by a model that had a mathematical error and several questionable factors; (3) the Corps agreed to reevaluate the geographic area for consideration, and the ocean site designation process was scheduled for completion by December 1991; (4) the delays caused the Corps to defer two projects scheduled to start in fiscal year 1988, which, according to the Corps, postponed $31.1 million in economic benefits; (5) problems existed in biological testing guidance, the Corps' quality assurance program, inspections, and monitoring efforts, indicating that the agencies did not have adequate assurance that environmental damage at existing ocean and bay disposal sites was within acceptable levels; (6) the agencies planned to issue revised testing guidance for ocean disposal by the end of calendar year 1989; and (7) the Corps was developing a management plan, to be completed in June 1992, for dredging and disposal operations which would detail inspection, surveillance, and monitoring programs.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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