Dredging for maintenance is essential in keeping ports, harbours, and other bodies of water safe and navigable. These waterways’ depth can be diminished, and navigation becomes more complex over time as sediment and debris build up on the bottom. 

Maintenance dredging entails the removal of this material and debris to restore the waterway’s depth and provide safe passage for ships and boats. This article discusses how often maintenance dredging should be scheduled.

Variables Influencing Maintenance Dredging Frequency

Dredging for maintenance is dependent on several variables, including:

Sediment Accumulation Rate

One of the most critical elements affecting how frequently maintenance dredging is required is the rate at which sediment builds up on a waterway’s bottom. Due to elements including tidal currents, river flow, and runoff from neighbouring land, some channels may acquire deposits far more quickly than others. More frequent dredging may be required in these situations to maintain safe passage.

Usage of Waterways

While choosing the frequency of maintenance dredging, another consideration to consider is the intensity of waterway use. To maintain their depth and guarantee safe sailing, heavily used waterways, such as ports and harbours, may need to be dredged more frequently. In contrast, less-used channels need less frequent dredging.

Environmental Concerns 

Environmental considerations also influence the frequency of maintenance dredging. Dredging may hurt the environment by upsetting natural habitats and ecosystems. Balancing the requirement for maintenance dredging and the need to safeguard the ecosystem is critical. Dredging may occasionally only be permitted during particular seasons of the year or in select locations to lessen the effects on the environment.

Budgetary Constraints

The frequency of maintenance dredging may also be affected by financial restrictions. Dredging is frequently an expensive process that calls both specialized tools and professional staff. Hence, the frequency of maintenance dredging may be constrained by the budget.

Frequency of Suggested Maintenance Dredging

Some broad recommendations can help identify when maintenance dredging should be scheduled, even though the frequency of maintenance dredging varies depending on the reasons described above. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends the following principles for maintenance dredging:

  • Every two to three years, maintenance dredging should be planned for shallow-draft channels (less than 20 feet).
  • Maintenance dredging should be planned for deep-draft channels (greater than 20 feet) every five to seven years.

Based on typical sediment buildup rates and waterway traffic, these recommendations are meant to serve as a jumping-off point for figuring out how frequently maintenance dredging should be done. Depending on the particular circumstances of the canal, it may be necessary to modify the frequency of maintenance dredging in practice.

Dredging for maintenance is a crucial step in keeping waterways safe and accessible. The pace of silt accumulation, canal use, environmental concerns, and financial limits affect how frequently maintenance dredging is required. 

While there are some general rules for calculating the frequency of maintenance dredging, it is essential to consider the particular circumstances of each waterway to ensure that dredging is scheduled as required to maintain safe navigation. To receive the best dredge services, reach out to Taber Solids Control.

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