Sediment Dredging

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Sediment Dredging Overview

What is Sediment Dredging?

Sediment dredging is the removal of unwanted sediment from watery environments, usually rivers, lakes, or reservoirs. Reasons for dredging include preparation for commercial use, resource collecting, or deepening a body of water. Communities with contaminated water need dredging to slow pollution, as well as some private companies. Dredging is also required when determining water transportation routes for ship safety.

What Problems It Solves:

Advantages & Disadvantages of Sediment Dredging


Environmental dredging has a significant impact on the ecosystems we alter. The advantages come in many shapes and forms:

  • Some beaches can be eroded from other activities, so a “beach nourishment” process can be applied.
  • The same exercise can be used for riverbeds to remove rubbish, debris, or sewage.
  • Capital dredging can be helpful for economies as it opens up waterways for faster trading. 
  • Many water sources are filled with resources like gold or diamonds that can be harvested swiftly with dredging.


However, there are some disadvantages to this much sediment removal. While some environments benefit from it, others can be disrupted from heavy changes:

  • Human pollutants can be released into the water.
  • Some sediment can resettle in harmful ways.
  • Nutrient-rich soil could be removed, which can throw off an ecosystem.

Sediment Dredging Process


Do you have a project that could use dredging? Working with a company can be relatively simple, but each has its own rules. If you want to dredge a pond yourself or are curious, we can go through it step by step.

  1. Decide on a method for dredging: If your project is a small backyard pond, you might be able to drain and collect the sediment with tools from a garage. However, if the water source is large, move to step 2. 
  2. Rent or purchase equipment: Both work well when you need to remove semi-solid material from the water to keep it healthy. You can also hire a company to do this. 
  3. Prepare the location: Place the equipment near the area and make sure to remove the fish first if your water source is a closed environment. 
  4. Begin the dredging process: You (or the company) lowers the equipment into the water to remove the silt, debris, and other materials from the water.

  5. Remove debris: After finishing, the removed material is either deposited elsewhere or sent to a facility for resource processing.


Depending on your method, you might need any or all of these for sediment dredging:

  • Mechanical excavator, for larger projects, may need additional instruction or guidance as the machinery is heavy
  • Hydrorake, also heavy equipment, but more focused on lighter removal tasks
  • Pond vacuum, the lightest option here, for skimming debris off the surface of your pond
  • Safety equipment and clothing, try for waterproof

Questions To Ask Contractors

With these significant factors in mind, the next step is contacting a dredging service. Ensure you have the exact dimensions and what you would like as the end result written down before contacting an equipment rental service. Also, pay attention to which businesses offer consultation and assistance. After comparing each one, decide which company will be best suited for the job.

Different Types of Sediment Dredging

While the process is generally similar across the board, these different methods of sediment dredging vary based on environment, end result, and project size.

  • Landscaping: This method is purely for changes to the physical environment. Usually, this solves a problem for commercial usage as the new landscape provides either better access to waterways or prepares for further development. Further uses include moving the earth elsewhere to create more land. 
  • Preparatory: While still useful, dredging for preparation is more of an investment. Organizations will use this type if the water source has a danger of flooding nearby neighborhoods, harmful pollutants inside it, or is eroding close to other natural resources. 
  • Commercial: Aquatic life and valuable materials can be found on the seafloor or in riverbeds. Dredging these is a fast way to harvest these valuables for the market. 
  • Cleaning: Some dredging can remove harmful trash and other debris from an ecosystem to save the wildlife.

Nourishment: Beach erosion and other natural occurrences can damage an environment. One way to fix this is by replacing the natural silt with better quality sediment from another location.

Alternative Solutions to Sediment Dredging

While dredging might be easy for most of these issues, there might be a similar solution that can be just as helpful. Below are some alternatives and how they weigh in compared to sediment dredging.

Alternatives include:

  • Shoreline naturalization/restoration
  • Clean-up efforts
  • Rock revetments

Service vs ServiceAdvantagesDisadvantages
Sediment Dredging vs. Shoreline Naturalization/Restoration
  • Is a faster solution.
  • Might be less expensive for some projects.
  • Can require less equipment.
  • Can be more harmful to the ecosystems.
Sediment Dredging vs. Clean-up Efforts
  • Is generally faster.
  • Does not need high levels of organization.
  • Is much more impactful because of the machinery.
  • Can be more expensive.
Sediment Dredging vs. Rock Revetments
  • Needs fewer permits to accomplish.
  • Can be done alone for small projects.
  • Provides a short-term solution.
  • Is not as long-term as rock revetments.

Costs of Sediment Dredging

The methods for sediment dredging impact the final costs. However, most projects can be broken down based on these factors:

  • Scope of project, meaning size, time, final result
  • Company fees, if extra people are needed
  • Equipment purchase or rental fees

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Ponds Fill Up With Sediment?

Water sources, especially man-made, can have low levels of oxygen near the bottom. When the wind blows vegetation into the water, the bacteria down below are not active enough to break down all this debris, causing sediment build-up.

Over time, the sediment can cause algae to bloom, covering the surface, and removing even more oxygen from the water, furthering the process.

What is in Dredged Material?

Trace materials can differ based on location, but most sediment is a mixture of clay, sand, silt, and organic matter.

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