Dredging is the process of excavating the sediment from the bottom of a body of water to either relocate the sediment or to extract valuable minerals from the sediment. There are two types of dredges: suction and mechanical. Suction is used to "suck up" the sediment from the bottom of a body of water, whereas mechanical is used to disturb the seafloor.
These two types of dredging may be used independently or in coordination with one another, depending on the circumstances. A granite bottom in 10' of water is very different from a mud bottom at a depth of 150'. These factors, among others, result in a wide variety of dredges, each of which will require different equipment, mechanical expertise, and strategy, which makes running a dredge a highly specialized and very difficult process.
The most common reason dredges are run throughout the country is to ensure waterways are deep enough to be navigable. In many canals and harbors, erosion builds up on the seafloor and threatens to ground the vessels that guarantee free movement of goods and people through our ports. Waterfront landowners, government agencies, and the federal government frequently hire professional dredgers to service waterways throughout the United States on an annual basis.
Another common motivation for running a dredge is mining. In many bodies of water, there are valuable minerals embedded in the seafloor. These minerals can be dredged, processed, and taken to market for a profit. This motive may seem less essential to the national economy; however, without the precious metals mined by dredges, many of the technological comforts we enjoy in the 21st century would not be possible. Professional dredges play an essential role in getting essential materials to producers.
In many coastal areas, erosion threatens to literally drown large swaths of land in the ocean. Dredgers often repurpose the sediment they remove from navigable waterways and use the sediment to raise the sea level in areas that are threatened by the surrounding sea level. In this way, dredgers are often able to ensure transportation throughout the country is not impeded and protect endangered coastlines in the same operation.
Before you can hope to begin running a successful and solvent dredge project, you need a hydrographic survey. This survey tells you what the bed of the body of water you are dealing with is like and what equipment would be most appropriate for this specific dredge, provided you can read the survey appropriately and make any relevant inferences.
If you don't have extensive experience running dredges, you could incorrectly interpret a hydrographic survey, which could result in wasted capital on everything from equipment and operating costs to wages and benefits. When you use a professional firm that knows how to run a wide variety of dredges, you minimize the possibility of wasted capital based on a simple misinterpretation of data.
The equipment you need to run a dredge is expensive. The initial cost is substantial, and the costs of transportation and storage are sizable and often overlooked. Furthermore, your dredge may require multiple pieces of equipment, which requires you to bear the expense of additional overhead. Even if you do decide you can afford the necessary equipment, you may not have the skills and experience to use the equipment effectively. With a professional service, you have no overhead costs and don't risk investing in a dredge that fails to accomplish its stated goal.
Unlike surface-level digs, workers running a dredge are unable to see the surface they hope to disturb. They must rely on a sense of feel while operating expensive heavy machinery. Workers with confidence in this practice are hard to find, and they don't come cheap.
If you run a dredge year-round, and you have the capital to cover salary and benefits, you may be able to hire someone full-time. For most dredge projects, this is financially unrealistic. If you need a dredge run for a few months every year or on an intermittent basis, professional services deliver better workers at a lower price.
During most dredges, there will be some sort of mechanical issue. The difficult nature of the task almost guarantees this. Whether the hang-up is minor or major, you are better off with a staff that can handle these issues without bringing in outside mechanical repair services, which incurs additional expense.
In the same way, just as you need an experienced group to run the relevant equipment, you also need an experienced group that can problem solve on their feet without costing you time and money. Professional services will give you the group that can accomplish both these tasks.
Insurance concerns in reference to a dredge are myriad and difficult to decipher. Obviously, the exceedingly expensive equipment you would need to run your own dredge would be a big monthly expense, whether you were using the equipment that month or not. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
You will need to insure the capital you invest in the dredge itself to cover your operating costs in the event of unforeseen circumstances. In some states, dredgers are required to insure the marine and non-marine segments of their operation separately. In addition to these insurance expenses, your geographic circumstances may contribute to cost.
If your dredge is adjacent to a protected area or near an important water source, you may need insurance to cover any possible expenses pertaining to environmental impact. Professionals with years of experience running dredges will be well equipped to navigate these challenges and take the burden of research off of your plate.
Much like the insurance situation, permits issued by a government agency are almost always required to run a dredge. The number of permits you need varies from one location to another. Some areas require a federal permit, others a state permit, and some may even require permission from a municipality or a specific federal agency. It's best to hire experienced dredgers familiar with this process as they will approach the challenge with efficiency, which will save you money.
It may seem like running your own dredge will save money. You won't have to hire workers, but you will be met with numerous other expenses, many of which a first-time dredger may struggle to anticipate.
If the cost alone is not enough to scare you off, consider the prospect of running your own dredge. The process requires a massive backlog of knowledge in hydrography, large gas engine repair, and municipal law. When you need dredging help, contact United Dredging for fast, professional dredging expertise at a price you can afford.