In Flanders, waters contain abundant amounts of aquatic sediment, which in most cases are contaminated. The sediment monitoring network from the Flemish Environmental Agency (VMM) points out that more than 80% of the sediments in navigable and unnavigable waters in Flanders show a significant indication of (severe) contamination. Because of the high cost for the removal of dredged material and the shortage of dredge landfill, there is currently an accumulation of contaminated sediment.
The remediation of contaminated sediments is contained implicitly in the general regulation of soil remediation as stipulated in the new decree on soil remediation and soil protection. Beside this general regulation, however the new soil decree also contains an actual regulation to start making up the arrears of the remediation of contaminated sediments, and this in harmony with the Integral Water Policy.
Integral water policy in Flanders is coordinated through the CIW, the coordination commission of integrated water management. The CIW is a multidisciplinar assembly of different Flemish authorities and is responsible for the preparation, scheduling and observance of the Flemish integrated water management (conform the EU Water Framework Directive). In 2008, the CIW and OVAM developed a methodology to prioritise the remediation of contaminated sediments on a regional scale. This methodology is currently used to develop a first list of contaminated sediments that need to be investigated and is planned to be submitted to the Flemish government by the end of the year 2009. In addition, due to the specific properties of aquatic sediment versus soil, a new guideline how to investigate contaminated sediments is currently being worked out, with a specific risk assessment methodology.