Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Dredge Material)

This semester I’ve been interning with the northeast office of the North Carolina Coastal Federation! The nonprofit works to accomplish its five goals of improving coastal resiliency through grant-based projects. I have been working with Michael Flynn, NCCF’s coastal advocate on my project studying beneficial use of dredge material.

Beautiful view from the office.

Every Monday morning, we have a group staff meeting where everyone updates each other on what they have been working on and what they plan to work on in the coming week. There, I get to learn a little more about the work that each of the other staff members are focusing on.

My project was looking at an overview of beneficial use of dredge material to create a paper and presentation. I began by looking at the policies of dredging and disposal of the waste product and from there moved to databasing all the available disposal sites in North Carolina. I then did a literature review and annotated bibliography of all the relevant studies looking at beneficial use. I also spoke with some people involved with pilot projects to learn more about the types of beneficial use projects currently being implemented.

Right before beginning to write the paper, Michael and I spoke to some industry professionals about the possibility of an area on Hatteras Island that could use dredge material beneficially. I was able to include this in my paper in hopes that Dare County can use my information to make a case for the implementation of the project.

I learned a lot about this up-and-coming topic in the environmental world! There is so much that can come out of dredge material and as a coastal state with a lot of dredging activity, dredge material is a wonderful resource.

Back at it!

After a week away due to the hurricane, we are back at it for the first full week of classes. We had our typical classes on Tuesday and Thursday including an economics game involving lots of candy and paper airplane flying in Andy’s class. Lunchtime for some of us means sitting on one of the porches at CSI with a beautiful view.

View from porch at CSI looking out at the sound, the canals that run to it and the marsh grass around the area.

Though we could do a lot of schoolwork from a distance during the hurricane, capstone work relative to this region was something we had to postpone. This week we began getting into the data collection aspect for our capstone project. We had three rotations to collect data for the different aspects of our study.

One station consisted of a discussion about who we want our podcast to be directed towards, what kind of questions we want to ask in interviews and how we are going to reach out to the study participants for interviews. We practiced using the microphones and interviewing each other with funny questions that sparked controversy like “Do you sing in the shower” and “What do you think of Garden Gnomes?”

Another rotation was mining through data at the Dare County Environmental Health Office. There, we were each assigned a certain number of files to go through and record data about septic tanks and the soil and water levels in peoples’ yards.

The third rotation consisted of traveling to the different well sites to learn where they were located and then capturing some water to run nutrient and bacteria tests. Once we got back from being at those sites in Nags Head, we learned the process for running those tests.

Peter provided us with the quote of the week when reminding other groups to be sure to label their sampling containers correctly– “There is a lot of very similar-looking water.”

Outside of the academics, parts of the group explored the Secotan Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and attended PrideFest in Manteo later that evening.

Saturday farmer’s market
Artist booth at PrideFest

Next up for us is our first week with internships! Stay tuned for more excitements.