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WEDA Hosts Canadian Conference to Large Crowd

Jeff Scott, CEO and president of Fraser Surrey Docks, joined by Alan Alcorn, WEDA vice president and Marcel Hermans, WEDA president, spoke at the opening plenary session.

Jeff Scott, CEO and president of Fraser Surrey Docks, joined by Alan Alcorn, WEDA vice president and Marcel Hermans, WEDA president, spoke at the opening plenary session.

From June 26 to 29, the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) hosted its annual Dredg­ing Summit & Expo, focused on “Dredging in the Americas,” in Vancouver, British Co­lumbia. The event included a special focus on Canadian projects, its government and ports, amongst WEDA’s regular attention to the im­portant issues of the dredging industry, includ­ing safety; environmental issues and sediment management; surveying and dredge monitoring best practice; innovative dredge equipment and more.

“Dredging in the Americas is as alive and full of promise today as it has ever been,” said WEDA president Marcel Hermans of the Port of Portland, at the opening plenary session. He assured the crowd that the in-depth education program would cover many of the industry’s im­portant issues – maintenance dredging and port expansion, coastal restoration and protection, and dredging for environmental cleanup, resto­ration or enhancement.

Hermans took a moment to recognize Tom Cappellino, WEDA executive director, “the workhorse of the organization” and the one that does the brunt of the work for the conference. His job also includes membership administra­tion, maintaining contacts with the media and sponsor organizations, website maintenance and updates, working with the officers, report­ing to the board of directors, all day-to-day op­erations, and providing assistance to regional chapters.

The WEDA organization also includes 17 board of directors, and the following officers, in addition to the president: Alan Alcorn, vice president; Carol Shobrook, secretary; and Matt Binsfeld, treasurer.

Hermans said efforts are underway to begin a new Canadian chapter, joining new chapters in South and Central America and Mexico, and established chapters in the Gulf Coast, Eastern and Midwest and Pacific regions.

Canadian attendees met for a special break­fast on Wednesday morning, June 28. “There was a lot of positive momentum in the room,” Hermans said. A consensus was reached to work toward an initial meeting for the Canada chap­ter for fall 2018.

Hermans said that with the international lo­cation, WEDA expected a lower turnout over­all, but it was higher than expected – a total of 360 attendees and exhibitors. The internation­al location also meant that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers members had trouble getting ap­provals to attend, but increasing Corps presence at WEDA conference remains an objective for the organization, Hermans said. WEDA has a committee among the board of directors tasked specifically with tracking Corps attendance, making recommendations for the future and fa­cilitating conference authorizations.

For the future, Hermans said the board is focused on developing a strategic plan. “We feel like we have a really solid foundation and are in a position to grow and go after some new initiatives, but we don’t want to jump into those,” Hermans said. “We want to be thought­ful about it. This is the perfect time for a strate­gic plan.”


At the opening plenary, Hermans wel­comed its featured Canadian speaker, Jeff Scott, CEO and president of Fraser Surrey Docks. He is also chair of the Fraser River In­dustrial Association (FRIA) and chair of the BC Maritime Employers Association.

He started with a background about the development of Vancouver. The city was first explored by Capt. George Vancouver in 1792. It was settled 70 years later in 1862. This year, Canada also celebrated its 150th anniversary.

In the beginning, Scott said Vancouver grew quickly because of the Canadian Pacific Railway. “Lumbering was a bustling industry, and the port grew rapidly,” he said. Today, the Port of Vancouver is the third largest port in North America. It handles a variety of com­modities, totaling more than $3 billion per year.

Fraser Surrey Docks has operated since 1929, located on the Fraser River about 28 ki­lometers (about 17 miles) from the mouth of the river. The company operates on 90 acres, making it the largest terminal on the West Coast of North America. Its unique access and location make it well-suited for future growth and expansion, Scott said.

FRIA was established in 2015 to be the voice of the working river. “Our members care deeply about the communities in which we live and work, and we know that a vibrant Fraser River is vital to the long-term prosper­ity of British Columbia and Canada. We also recognize that a safe, sustainable and success­ful river economy requires strong partnerships with all levels of government, first nations, local businesses and residents,” Scott said.


Norm Grant, president, and Jimmy Grant, executive
vice president, of dredge manufacturer Amphibex.


The Fraser River is maintained at a naviga­tional depth of 11 meters (about 36 feet). To achieve this, the river is dredged on an annual basis to sub-grade, which can accommodate extra sediment from the freshet runs in the spring, as the snow melts.

The dredging season typically runs from about June to March. Because Mother Na­ture has a mind of her own, Scott said, ”the dredging program has to be variable, fluid and requires constant monitoring and updates.” Without dredging the Fraser River would silt to about 5 meters (16 feet).

There are also challenges for dredging in Canada, as there are in the United States. Scott identified many of the same obstacles seen in the U.S.: more difficult permit approv­als, increasing environmental standards, the increased need to justify the use of capital for dredging, shorter timelines and local pressures against port expansion.

“The connection between the importance of ports and dredging is getting lost,” Scott said. This chasm requires companies that need dredging to change their strategies, he said. Env ironmental policies, reclaim strategies, innovative dredging techniques, and opening up new markets are just a few of the strate­gies Scott mentioned. “We are entering dif­ficult and uncertain times, and it’s not going to be easy,” he said. “This conference provides a great setting and opportunity to discuss the changing landscape and explore potential solutions.”

Next, Alan Acorn, WEDA vice president, provided a unique American perspective, hav­ing worked in the area on and off over the last year and a half, on Vancouver, its lingo and fitting in with local Canadian culture. “I’ll apologize, I’m not meaning to offend any Ca­nadians and Vancouverites. In fact, I have a lot of fun with it. That’s also very Canadian, by the way, apologizing before you get started,” Alcorn said.


Cliff Stewart, vice president of infrastructure at Port of Vancouver, spoke during lunch about the port, its mission, its infrastructure and plans for the future. The Port of Vancouver is Cana­da’s largest and most diversified port, larger than the next five ports combined. “The port is a sig­nificant local and national economic generator,” Steward said. It’s responsible for trade with 170 world economies and 20 percent of all Canada’s goods.

Port authorities in Canada are federal enti­ties. Steward said, they “exist to facilitate Can­ada’s trade, while at the same time protecting the environment, considering the impact on local communities, operating safely, and we have to be commercially viable. We have to be self-sufficient.” Under the Canada Marine Act, this model was launched in the 90s, giv­ing port authorities governance over the land that they exist on, with funding coming only from paying users of the port.

“Protecting the environment is an impor­tant part of what we do as a port authority,” Stewart said. This includes conducting thor­ough and robust science based project and environmental reviews for all projects, both its own projects and those proposed by oth­ers, so the port authority sits on both sides of the design/build table as both project propo­nents and permit reviewers. It also works in conjunction with other government agencies including Environment and Climate Change Canada, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and a number of regional agencies and local governments. In 2016, the port authority completed 233 project and en­vironmental reviews.

“We don’t authorize or allow a project, if it has adverse environmental effects,” Stewart said. The port authority’s board of directors must report annually to Parliament to that fact. “That really focuses the mind and imagi­nation of all of us,” he said.


Ana Cabezas Góngora and Adriana Curulla of MTG. The company introduced its DMet range cutter protection
solution for cutter suction dredges, and the StarMet tooth-adapter system for trailing suction hopper dredges
and mechanical dredges.


Mark Keneford, Kevin Humphreys and Joel Thigpen of Wärtsilä. The company has primarily supplied engines
for the European dredging market but would like focus more on the North American market. The company also
introduced the first marine hybrid power module and believes it has potential in the dredging market. See the
product story on page 44.


John O’Connell and Randy Pit of Geo-Synthetics.


Charlie Hatchard of Penticton Foundry.



When the federal port authorities were created, they were also given the responsibil­ity of dredging in their region. The Port of Vancouver runs a deep-sea dredging program in the Fraser River with a minimum draft  of 1 1 meters (about 36 feet). Fraser Surrey Docks operates that program on a long-term contract. It sells as much of the sand as it can to the local market and the rest is used in channel maintenance. “Depending on the freshet, that could be 2.5 to 3.5 million cubic meters per year for about 30 kilometers (about 98 miles),” Stewart said.

Before the port authority was responsible for dredging, it was done by Public Works Canada, which also dredged many of the chan­nels in the lower Fraser, but the port authority stopped dredging those lower channels when it took over. In 2009, the port authority started a local channel dredging program, funded with $7 million, between federal, provincial and lo­cal monies. For more information, on dredging under the program, see the article in the June 2017 issue, page 12 (“Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Maintains Fraser River and Helps Local Shipping Channels”).

Several years ago, in response to the im­portance of sustainability, the port authority launched an initiative with many stakehold­ers to define what a sustainable gateway was and explore what that meant for the port. “We defined a sustainable gateway or port as one that delivers economic prosperity through trade, maintains a healthy environment and enables thriving communities,” Stewart said. Eventually, the port authority also adopted that as its mission with the goal of being the most sustainable port in the world. “We recog­nize, that it’s aspirational and ambitious and bold, but we’re intent on doing the work it will take to help us realize that,” Stewart said.

Part of sustaining the Port of Vancouver includes accommodating for its growth in the future. Stewart said the port is handling 40 million more tons of cargo since 2009 with the potential for continued upward growth. The capacity to handle that cargo is increasing. Steward said there are a number of terminals under development or recently opened, which will deliver another 20 to 30 tons of capacity in the next 10 years, but that still won’t be enough to support the anticipated growth.

There are only four places in British Co­lumbia where road, rail and deep water come together – Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Squamish. Vancouver is the best loca­tion for expansion. Although Vancouver has already used all its deepwater space, the Ter­minal 2 project at Roberts Bank will create more. The existing port facility includes a causeway and container and coal terminal. A new island will be built to the northwest and connected with another causeway. Stewart said the port expects to start operation there in the late 2020s. Stewart and the team at the port have been working on this project since 2010. “We’re on a critical path and we don’t intend to stand down,” Stewart said.

The island will be a crushed rock dyke system, faced with bedding rock. About 12 million cubic meters (about 16 million cubic yards) of fill will be needed. Four million will come from dredging on-site, and the other 8 million will come from Fraser River mainte­nance dredging, which will take about four annual cycles.


The education program throughout the week touched on many topics, including tracks on the beneficial reuse of dredged sediments, navigation channel design and maintenance, dredging for beach nourishment, sediment re­mediation and innovative dredging equipment.

The conference included a Safety Commis­sion Plenary: Hierarchy of Controls in Dredg­ing Safety: Case Studies from the Field, on Wednesday, June 28 (see the story page 26); and an Environmental Commission Plenary: A West Coast Tour of Canada’s Dredging and Disposal Issues and Opportunities, on Thurs­day, June 29 (see the story page 31).

WEDA also gives out a number of awards each year, including technical paper awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award, Safety Award and environmental project awards. For more on this year’s awards, see the story on page 16.

The exhibit hall had 66 booths, packed with dredging contractors, equipment suppli­ers and manufacturers, engineering firms and more. The exhibit hall was the center for all the social events, luncheons and the many discussions at booths and tables.

Next year the Dredging Summit and Expo will be June 25 to 28 at Hilton Norfolk in Virginia.

Kim Dailey, sales manager, imaging, Teledyne Marine.


Duane Bennish, divisional sales manager, Elastec. This year the company celebrates 50 years in the floating
boom, barrier and turbidity curtain market. See the story on page 12.


Representing Hagler Systems were , from left, Benjamin
Hagler, Jr., project manager; Benjamin Hagler, Sr.,
vice president; and Lee Henry, program manager.


Dave Hart of the Port of Vancouver and Tino Isola of
Frazier River Pile and Dredge.

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