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New Orleans District Creates Marshland at Mouth of the Mississippi

Working in the Southwest Pass navigation channel at the mouth of the Mississippi River, Weeks Marine cutterhead dredge Capt Frank (left, bottom) and Great Lakes cutterhead dredge California (left, top) join the New Orleans District hopper dredge Wheeler. Launched in 1981, the trailing suction hopper dredge is the largest in the Corps of Engineers with three large dragarms and an 8,256-cubic-yard full load capacity.

Working in the Southwest Pass navigation channel at the mouth of the Mississippi River, Weeks Marine cutterhead dredge Capt Frank (left, bottom) and Great Lakes cutterhead dredge California (left, top) join the New Orleans District hopper dredge Wheeler. Launched in 1981, the trailing suction hopper dredge is the largest in the Corps of Engineers with three large dragarms and an 8,256-cubic-yard full load capacity.

Photos by Patrick Quigley, courtesy of Weeks Marine

In 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District created 850 acres of wetlands with the placement of approximately 60 percent of the material dredged from Southwest Past at the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.

Two contracts awarded to Weeks Marine and Great Lakes Dock & Dredge removed approximately 8.9 million cubic yards of material from the Southwest Pass navigation channel in early 2014, and placed it in shallow open water areas adjacent to the channel, which created the marshland.

Annually, from the Gulf of Mexico through Southwest Pass, up to River Mile 10 AHP, the Corps removes approximately 17 million cubic yards of sediment from the navigation channel.

Earlier this year, Week Marine’s cutterhead dredges GD Morgan and Capt. Frank and Great Lakes’ California worked in the navigation channel. Dredges GD Morgan and Capt Frank removed approximately 5.5 million cubic yards, and dredge California removed approximately 3.4 million cubic yards. All 8.9 million cubic yards of material created marshland adjacent to the channel.

Weeks Marine cutterhead dredge Capt Frank works in the navigation channel at Southwest Pass in the Mississippi River.

With cutterhead dredges, the material can be placed immediately in the shallow water areas, rather than in containment or open-water disposal. The Corps said it has focused on the use of cutterhead dredges over the last six years to maintain the navigation channel through Southwest Pass, and the annual average use of dredged material for wetland creation has increased from 20 to 50 percent.

In November, cutterhead dredge Capt Frank began a contract to dredge approximately five million cubic yards from the Head of Passes Disposal Area at Mile 0 of the Mississippi River. All dredged material will be placed to create approximately 500 acres of marsh. The project is scheduled for completion around April 2015.

Material dredged from Southwest Pass navigation channel this year was used to create 850 acres of wetlands, adjacent to the channel.

Additional lower Mississippi River dredging contracts are scheduled to be awarded in the 2014 fiscal year, which will create additional acres along the Baptiste Collette navigation channel and in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Weeks Marine cutterhead dredge GD Morgan works at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

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