What is DREDGING? The dictionary says this: “Dredge – to dig, gather, or pull out with a dredge (from the bottom of a body of water).” The National Ocean Service says dredging is the removal or displacement of the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies.
Why Dredge? Dredging often is focused on maintaining or increasing the depth of water bodies so that boats and ships can pass or dock without running aground. Due to the natural process of sedimentation, sand and silt washing downstream gradually fills channels and harbors, making them impassable for large ships. The Hudson River, for example, would be far too shallow for most ships to pass through, if left in its natural state. That’s because it’s a river, and all rivers carry sand a dirt with them as they run from mountains to oceans. Just look at the Grand Canyon – where do you think all that dirt went? It went down-river, to the Sea of Cortez
Since large ships carry the bulk of goods imported into the US, dredging plays a vital role in our economy. But due to the significant destructive effects of dredging on the marine environment, dredging is strictly regulated by federal, state and municipal agencies. One of the key focuses of these regulations is the development and enforcement of “dredging windows”.
DREDGING WINDOWS – put simply, Dredging Windows are periods of time which are carefully researched, and decided on, where dredging will have the least amount of negative impact on wildlife, ecosystems and the environment. To understand more about Dredging Windows, give a listen to Tom Gulbransen, a Senior Marine Research Scientist of 30 years.