At PondMedics, one of the most common pond maintenance topics we’re asked about is dredging projects. We asked Trent Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer at dredgSMART™, to share his expertise on common pitfalls and how to ensure a success in a dredging project.
Why Is Proper Planning Important Before Dredging?
According to Trent, “There’s a common misconception that all you have to do is call a dredging contractor who has the ability to pump mud from point A to point B. If you do that, then the contractor now has control of the project and THEY are the ones defining success.” This creates a great deal of risk, since the mechanical ability to remove and dispose of mud is only a fraction of the bigger picture.
“Not many people know about mud. It’s a dynamic situation because we’re dealing with water chemistry as well as the physical aspect of the mud. We’re also dealing with the biological aspect of the fish, the microbes, the invertebrates, the zooplankton, the phytoplankton, and so on. All of those things are affected when you start moving mud around.”
Having access to the right insights and expertise helps property owners, managers, and the dredging contractors they hire experience a satisfactory outcome.
Four Factors to Consider in Planning a Successful Dredging Project:
Holistic planning entails looking at four major components. An exploration of the factors below leads to much better planning for a successful outcome without unintended consequence and risk.
The water and the mud or sediment in it have physical properties and characteristics that may be impacted by dredging – and that determine what type of equipment and dredging techniques should be used. Here are some clarifying questions for this aspect of planning,
- What does the water do? How does it flow?
- What does the sediment do? What’s the volume (how much sediment needs to be addressed)?
- Where is it geographically within the body of water? How is it impacting the flow of the water?
The second component is the chemical piece and the chemical has to do with water chemistry. There is no “one-size-fits-all” definition of “good” water chemistry. It’s highly dependent on purpose. The water chemistry in a rural stock tank will look different than a pond used to hold water that irrigates a golf course.
Trent points out that maintaining the appropriate chemical balance is not typically something dredging contractors are trained to handle. “Based on the client’s goal or purpose for that body of water, you may negatively affect water chemistry through a dredging project without knowing it, and the unintended consequences can be negative. For a contractor, that’s not part of the success metric. Their job is just to remove the unwanted mud.”
Biological considerations cover all the living things in a body of water. This means microscopic and macroscopic organisms including bacteria, plankton, algae, plants, insects, birds, fish, and other wildlife.
Dredging will always cause some disruption to the environment and ecosystem of a pond. WIthout careful planning, this shift in the biology of a body of water can cause unwanted overgrowth of some species and die off of others. “Unless you are talking with someone who specializes in the biology of lakes or ponds, they likely won’t have an answer for how dredging is going to positively or negatively affect the biology and the living things within that body of water.”
The culture or context of a body of water is another critical factor that’s often overlooked. “Within every body of water, there’s a watershed that takes water to that body of water. There are many things that happen in that watershed with people and their cultural practices. An HOA will interact with and have different expectations for a neighborhood pond vs. one in a sports field in a city park.”
Get Help with Holistic Planning for Your Dredging Projects
Trent had this final advice for those looking to have a pond dredged. “The key is ti accurately define success and bring all four of these components into the picture. Ad dredgeSMART™, we have experts on our team who understand all of the potential impacts. We help our clients develop a plan so they can get comparable and competitive quotes on dredging that will ensure contractors deliver the RIGHT outcome.”
Visit dredgeSMART™ to learn more about dredging consulting for planning & execution.