The George Washington University
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering Department (EMSE)
Environmental & Energy Management Program (E&EM)
Spring 2001 (Volume 2, Number 1)

New Approach to Cleaning up Urban Rivers Presented at Brownfields Conference

A new approach to cleaning up contaminated urban rivers was presented by E&EM Professor Jonathan Deason at the EPA Brownfields 2000 conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Information on the session at which the paper was presented can be seen at

The problem of contaminated river sediments is a major emerging problem across much of the United States.  In its recent National Sediment Quality Study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 96 watersheds that have problems with contaminated sediments.
E&EM's Professor Deason chaired the Brownfields Conference session on contaminated urban river corridors

EPA estimated that the magnitude of the problem nationwide is very large; about 1.2 billion cubic yards of contaminated sediments exist across the nation.   While clean-up attempts are being made at some of these areas, no national remediation program designed to address this problem currently exists.

Deason is helping to design a comprehensive new national program to restore these rivers, to be developed and applied through a pilot project approach.  The focus of the effort is on comprehensive river basin planning to achieve environmental restoration and economic revitalization of distressed waterways.  The concept was developed during a research project conducted under sponsorship of the Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The idea involves the creation of a new working partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Those two federal agencies would work with other appropriate federal, state and local agencies to clean up urban industrial rivers under the concept. 

Such a partnership would operationalize ideas articulated in recent reports on this subject, such as the National Research Council's 1997 report on Contaminated Marine Sediments in Ports and Waterways: Cleanup Strategies and Technologies, and EPA's 1998 Contaminated Sediment Management Strategy.
Former Congressman Tom Bevill and Professor Deason briefed Members of Congress in late 2000 on the new approach to cleaning up America's rivers.  Mr. Bevill chaired the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee during his 30-year career as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Further details of this initiative are contained the paper Deason presented at the conference, which can be seen by clicking on the following link: Paper on Urban River Restoration.

Other papers presented at the conference can be viewed by clicking on the following link:


Jonathan P. Deason, Ph.D., Lead Professor