Ram Mohan, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, Mark Reemts, P.E., Prashant Gupta, Richard Galloway, Tim Johnson, P.G., Randy Brown, P.E., and Tim Donegan, P.E., 2021. “Restoration of estuarine wetlands using thin cover placement: A pilot application in Brunswick, Georgia”, Shore & Beach, 89(4), 62-72.
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Restoration of estuarine wetlands using thin cover placement: A pilot application in Brunswick, Georgia
Ram Mohan, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE(1) Mark Reemts, P.E.,(2) Prashant Gupta,(3)
Richard Galloway,(4) Tim Johnson, P.G.,(5) Randy Brown, P.E.,(6) and Tim Donegan, P.E.(7)
1) Anchor QEA, LLC, Horsham, PA; Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
2) Anchor QEA, LLC, Baltimore, MD; firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Honeywell, Henrico, VA; email@example.com
4) Honeywell, Morris Plains, NJ; firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Anchor QEA, LLC, Liverpool, NY; email@example.com
6) Anchor QEA, LLC, Liverpool, NY; firstname.lastname@example.org
7) Sevenson Environmental Services, Severna Park, MD; TDonegan@sevenson.com
This paper presents the design concepts and basis for using a thin layer cover (TLC) of sand to restore historically impacted wetlands in Georgia’s Brunswick estuary. The project site is a mix of tidal creeks, marshes, brackish estuary, and an adjacent upland area that has been affected by historical industrial operations. A pilot project to test cover placement methodology and performance in advance of future full-scale TLC implementation was completed in 2018. It involved placing 6-9 inches of material in a 2/3-acre marsh area. Two material types — sand and higher organic content fines — were tested. The contractor, Sevenson Environmental Services, identified the appropriate equipment, means, and methods to hydraulically convey and place the TLC material within the pilot area in accordance with stated performance objectives. A mat-based access road was installed to enable equipment to move the pipeline and spray nozzle for fine placement control within the pilot marsh area. The thin cover placed in the field ranged from 6-12 inches thick (versus the design thickness of 6-9 inches) to meet the minimum required thickness and account for over placement. A 30- to 45-degree spray yielded the best distribution of materials for the equipment used. Placement of sandy material was faster and more uniform than fines due to the material’s enhanced settling characteristics and ease of distribution. A modified topsoil-fines mix with a baffle plate eventually permitted optimal placement of fines within the study area while maintaining the target organic content. Turbidity in the water discharged from the pilot area was minimized by environmental controls (e.g. perimeter hay bales) installed by the contractor. The mat-based access road initially experienced some settlement due to loading on the soft sediments and marsh root mat; the road required restoration following project completion. Physical and vegetative monitoring conducted in six-month increments over a two-year period indicated strong natural recolonization of vegetation and the re-establishment of benthic species including fiddler crab. This paper presents lessons learned, design implications, and best management practices for future thin cover placement projects in estuarine settings.