A decision-making framework was established for assessing the impacts of a pilot dredging study at the New Bedford Harbor, MA, Superfund site. Concern over possible environmental impacts due to dredging at the site necessitated that a monitoring program be implemented to ensure that unacceptable water quality impacts did not occur during the project. A committee of environmental managers from Federal and state government was established with the authority to assess and modify the operation on a daily basis. Finally, a 'real-time' monitoring plan was implemented in which water samples were collected, analyzed within 16 hours, and the data supplied to the management committee in order to assess the environmental impact of the previous days' operation. The combined use of site-specific criteria and a 'real-time' decision making management process allowed for successful completion of the project with a minimal effect on water quality.