International Dredging Review

International Dredging Review

The Western Dredging Association (WEDA) Midwest Chapter met in Davenport Iowa for the 2016 conference meeting from March 23 to 25. The Midwest chapter had a record number of attendees with 106 participants and a large number of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers em-ployees were in attendance. Corps members have struggled in recent years to attend confer-ence meetings under budget restrictions and a great deal of work went into the conference ap-proval package WEDA Midwest chapter Presi-dent Karl Schmitz of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District said. Members gathered the night before at the Radisson Quad City Plaza for a cocktail reception.


Michael Young of Ellicott Dredge Technologies IMS/LWT presented on Wetland Rehabilitation and Resto-ration Dredging projects. His presentation considered wetland case studies at Pepper Creek in Delaware Jean Lafitte National Park in Lousiana Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware Slevdalsvann Nature Reserve in Norway and Goose Island Marsh in Texas.

On Thursday morning Schmitz welcomed the large crowd and introduced the day’s first speaker – Chief of the Operations Division Rock Island District Mike Cox also a former WEDA president. Cox spoke about the collab-oration between the Rock Island District and the other districts along the Mississippi River as they manage it together. 

Infrastructure along the river is a concern he said. “We’re starting to take a hard look at what we need to do to sustain the reliability in these systems for the future” Cox said. “That means making changes now.” 

He said the Upper Mississippi River has gone through significant changes in its exis-tence. Twelve thousand years ago the Missis-sippi River used to flow where the Illinois River does today. Only after the melting of glaciers in Wisconsin did the Mississippi settle where it is now. The Mississippi River was also hundreds of feet deeper in places before sedimentation changed the river. 

In the early 1800s the federal government began to look at navigation improvements along the river. Congress authorized a four-foot navigation channel then 4.5 feet and 6 feet. “Here on the Mississippi River the navi-gation channel was to be constructed with wing dams and closing struc-tures constricting the flow of the river and helping to speed up the current and create a more reliable channel which was to be supplemented with continued dredging” Cox said. 

The navigation channel was completed in the 1930s. At first much of the sediment deposit and mainline scour occured in the upper areas of the river but over time as the upper pool got filled in the sediment trans-ported down and the middle portion of the river had more maintenance needs. Cox said overtime many of the original wing dam structures were rebuilt and the Corps has still had a lot of success in reducing the need for dredging that way. And the river continues to change. 

“We still do a lot of our channel maintenance in the middle third of the pool but we’re starting to see more maintenance in the lower portion of the pool” Cox said. 


Vern Gwin from the National Dredging Quality Manage-ment (DQM) Center spoke about updates to the Corps monitoring which will not include all pipeline dredges with a discharge diameter greater than 18 inches.

He also gave some examples of high volume dredge events in recent years which have taxed the district resources and understanding of the needed maintenance. “The system is still evolv-ing and changes are still occurring” Cox said and he cited an early example in 2010 in an area in Pool 22 below Hannibal Missouri which had significant shoaling. “We had to dredge more than 320000 cubic yards that previously had only little to moderate dredging before” Cox said. To put that number in perspective Cox said that number almost represents an average year of hydraulic dredging along the district’s 300-mile portion of the river. He also cited winter floods in the district which will likely increase dredging needs this year and the district has requested ad-ditional funds to cover that. 

Cox said the district is also heavily involved in an asset management program to formally identify the condition of infrastructure priori-tize the needs of maintenance repair and identify where resources are needed most. He also men-tioned the need for alternative financing to meet the navigation needs along the river. 

Ashley Roznowski of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. gave a presentation on job safety analy-sis. She began her work on safety at Great Lakes as a site engineer when the department was de-veloping new safety initiatives and monitoring programs. She hoped attendees could take away some practical approaches to job safety by high-lighting some of the practices Great Lakes has developed to help its employees identify hazards. 


Randall Tucker of Streamside Technolgies presented on the company’s sediment bedload removal technol-ogy. See the article in the IDR January/February 2016 issue.

Roznowski’s presentation began with a graph on Great Lakes incident rate at job sites from 2003 to 2015. The graph was meant to show the trend in incident rates which dropped signifi-cantly during that time from 8.55 to 1.89. 

Great Lakes began its safety program in 1996 and was mainly a series of safety management sys-tems for the various fleets. Around 2005 Great Lakes was introduced to the Incident and Injury Free Workplace (IIF) concept and after imple-mentation the contractor’s incident rate was greatly improved. In 2007 Great Lakes began working with the Hile Group which introduced a personal perspective to safety. “Everyone wants to go home to their families at night; everyone is working on dredges with friends so look out for one another” Roznowski explained of the person-al concept which again significantly improved incident rates at Great Lakes. Since then she said the company has continued to focus on new safety initiatives and honing its existing safety tools such as the JSA (job safety analysis) report. 

Great Lakes first introduced JSAs in 2005 with IIF practices. In her presentation Rosznowski showed some of the earlier iterations of the JSA and newer versions to show how the company improved the form along the way. 


Matt Marks of Magnus Pacific which was purchased by Great Lakes in 2014 and recently renamed Great Lakes Environmental & Infrastructure presented on Nearshore MGP (manufactured gas plant) Site Remediation.

To continually improve the JSA forms Great Lakes began investigat-ing the root causes for incidents. “I can tell you the majority of the time it was because people either didn’t do the JSA or didn’t do a proper JSA” Roznowski said. “That’s why we put more effort into developing a better form.” 

Some of the other improvements to new JSA forms include a compre-hensive list of personal protective equipment a list of 10 areas of elevated safety concern labeled Life Saving Absolutes or rules that should never be broken and what Great Lakes calls the 6Ts – Today Task Tools Tide Up Transition and Time Out. 

“For me hazard control is the easy part. If you know a hazard and you know how to control it or mitigate it that’s easy. It’s the hazards that you don’t notice or aren’t aware of that will cause the incidents. So we developed the 6Ts” Roznowski said. The 6Ts are meant to get crew members to think beyond the task at hand or slow down the task assessment portion to make sure nobody misses anything. 

Today focuses on the current environment and any equipment transfers that might be needed. Task ensures that all crew members know his/her role in the overall task. Tools means not only identifying but also gathering and inspecting all the needed equipment. Tidy Up refers to general housekeeping. Transition will identify different phases of the task and where one ends and another begins. And any crew member can call a Time Out at any time if he/she sees something unsafe or something that deviates from the JSA. Great Lakes stands behind any employee calling a time out at any time as it increases awareness on-site and supports the contractor’s safety commitment statement to returning workers home safely everyday. 


The 2016 WEDA Midwest chapter board of directors Aaron Wright treasurer; Karl Schmitz president; Greg Smith vice president; James Wescott past president and program manager; and Zach Kimmel the newest board member elected in this year. Not pictured Steve Garbaciak secretary.

Vern Gwin from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Dredging Quality Man-agement (DQM) Center spoke next on chang-es to the DQM programs and updates on the future the most important of which being the directive to begin pipeline dredge monitoring. 
DQM has been monitoring scows and hop-per dredges for more 10 years. Corps headquar-ters gave the directive in April 2014 to begin implementing pipeline dredge monitoring which more than doubles the monitoring by DQM Gwin said. 

The new monitoring will take place in dif-ferent phases starting with the monitoring of government pipeline dredges and then even-tually industry dredges. Since 2014 DQM has started working with government pipeline dredges for monitoring. After a pilot program with Corps dredges Gwin said DQM went back and forth with industry on the specifica-tions for the monitoring. DQM proposed two versions of the specs one gathering basic data while the other collected everything and Gwin said headquarters wanted to monitor everything. At the time of the presentation the final specs were very close to com-pletion and should be released soon. (In late March Corps headquarters officially instructed DQM to begin taking steps to monitor all pipeline dredges with a discharge diameter greater than 18 inches.) 


A large number of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees attended the meeting compared to recent years. Seen here Paul Machajewski St. Paul District; Kimberly Pinkston Rock Island District; Erika Stephens Rock Island District; Chris Reger Rock Island District; Kyle Nerad Rock Island District; Mike Cummings Rock Island District; Don Mayer Memphis District; Karl Schmitz Rock Island District; Vickie Watson Memphis District; Jon Klingman Rock Island District; Steve Tapp St. Paul District; and Zach Kimmel St. Paul District.

Gwin said while this program will launch in the later part of this fis-cal year it will be a slow implementation depending on district practices and dredge windows in late summer or early fall. “We want the districts to be smart in how they implement this so we’ll see” Gwin said. 

As part of the pilot program with government dredges DQM experi-mented with using on-board computers to run the monitoring software but it proved too much for the system meaning another separate com-puter is needed on-board solely for DQM monitoring. Gwin also said Corps operations were able to use older computers for very little cost. 

The new monitoring system also has an updated viewer. Previously DQM wasn’t able to share its data with districts or contractors. With some added security features to protect the proprietary nature of the data DQM can now offer contractors access to their own data. Also the on-board computer can display the new viewer and data in real-time. In general the new system provides much more detailed information about on-going dredging and real-time updates. 

In terms of implementation by the industry and the need for new equipment to meet monitoring needs Gwin said for now “Give us what you’ve got. If you don’t currently have a density meter for example you won’t have an immediate capitol cost burden.” 

Other important changes at DQM involve a growing program called ODESS – Operations & Dredging Endangered Species System – a moni-toring program first developed to chart sea turtle takes during hopper dredging. Gwin said the system has effectively tracked turtle takes but also reduced anxiety during projects and resulted in less shutdowns be-cause project managers can watch endangered species in real-time. He said the system is also adaptable to other species. “If you come across a species that you have to monitor in a project let us know. This can be modified for different species” Gwin said. 

Kristi Maitland of The Intelligence Group spoke about Dredging Operations and Potential Impacts of Underwater Sound. As many marine organisms use sound for navigation there is growing concern that un-derwater sounds from dredging could be harmful and underwater sound monitoring may become a part of in-water environmental remediation. Although intense sound can cause death or permanent damage to some organisms Maitland said that intensity sound is not associated with dredging operations but may be associated with pile driving activities. She did however cite a project along the Passiac River where the Na-tional Marine Fisheries Service requested underwater sound data to be used for study purposes. While the data was collected Maitland also said target species would need to be identified first in order to properly gauge the true effects. 

Pradeep Mugunthan of Anchor QEA discussed methods for model-ing the transport of contaminated sediment in confined disposal facili-ties (CDFs). The modeling can help identify transport pathways at dis-posal sites and in evaluating contaminant transport over the long term. His case studies looked at Portland Harbor T4 CDF; at Quebec in CDF design support for Alcoa Baie Comea; and at Guam Field 5N and Orote Point CDFs. 

Jim Olstra of Olstra Consutling LLC discussed Capping Media Test Methods. His presentation considered different types of active media – activated carbon organophilic clay and others such as apatite and sid-erite and outlined different testing methods for each. 

Other speakers and topics (not featured in photos) included Joe Lamb of Clearwater Industries Liquid Solid Separation Including Mechanical Separation Flocculation & Advanced Portable Water Clarification; George Hicks of CH2M Hunter’s Point In-Situ Treatment Pilot; Kenneth Mike of NRT GAC – Sand Amendment Cap Pilot Scale Study. 

Corps of Engineer attendees also gave dredging updates for many of the districts including Chris Reger from the Rock Island District Don Mayer of the Memphis District reporting for the Mississippi Valley Divi-sion; and Paul Machajewski reporting for the St. Paul District.