SCOOP: There's A Dirt Shortage : Short Wave Mud and dirt have often been treated as waste products from excavation or dredging sites. But these days, coastal communities need massive amounts of mud and dirt to protect their shorelines from rising seas. This is leading to a dirt shortage, where the demand for it is higher than supply. NPR climate correspondent Lauren Sommer gives us the scoop — including why one federal agency that has dirt often disposes of it instead of reusing it for these projects.

SCOOP: There's A Dirt Shortage

SCOOP: There's A Dirt Shortage

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/995497652/996026369" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Newly deposited dirt sits on top of a levee at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve that protects the eastern edge of San Francisco Bay. Lauren Sommer/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Lauren Sommer/NPR

Newly deposited dirt sits on top of a levee at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve that protects the eastern edge of San Francisco Bay.

Lauren Sommer/NPR

Mud and dirt have often been treated as waste products from excavation or dredging sites. But these days, coastal communities need massive amounts of mud and dirt to protect their shorelines from rising seas, leading to a dirt shortage, where the demand for it is higher than supply. The Army Corps of Engineers could help alleviate the shortage from its dredging of waterways, but it has to follow the "federal standard," which stipulates the most affordable option for disposal be chosen. Frequently, that means releasing the dredged material at a disposal site underwater instead of using it for these restoration projects, as NPR climate correspondent Lauren Sommer reports.

Read more of Lauren's reporting on the dirt shortage.

This episode was edited by Gisele Grayson and produced by Rebecca Ramirez. It was fact-checked by Tyler Jones and Rasha Aridi. Josh Newell was the audio engineer for this episode.