SantaCruz Harbor

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Dredged Materials

The material dredged from the bottom of the Santa Cruz Small Craft harbor is a combination of sand, natural organic plant life and seawater. Dredged material (averaging 200,000 cubic yards per year) is an important sand resource for beach replenishment downcoast of the harbor (see "Littoral Drift").

Occasionally, low level odors emanate from the dredged material in the immediate proximity of the discharge point. These odors are created by the natural decay of aquatic plant life and are principally due to the minute presence of hydrogen sulfide gas, a natural byproduct of the decay process.

The human olfactory mechanism is capable of detecting the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas in quantities as low as 1 part per billion. The Port District is required by the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District to keep hydrogen sulfide emissions at or below specified levels. The Port District uses very sensitive equipment to ensure that such emissions are in compliance.

Material dredged from the inner-harbor is also tested for over 100 different chemical elements and compounds to assure the absence of any substance which might prove a hazard to public health. Tests are conducted by an independent testing laboratory and all procedures are conducted by highly qualified personnel using precise instrumentation.

The following agencies have permit and review responsibility over the Port District's dredging program:

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • California Coastal Commission
  • California Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District

The above mentioned agencies must review the test results each year and attest to the fact that the material meets the required standards before dredging is allowed to commence.

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