Sea Discovery

The Four R’s of Dredging

Since the start of the industrial revolution, people have treated the planet as though its natural resources were endlessly available. In the 1980s an abrupt shift occurred. An awareness of the limitation of these resources awakened a concern for the planet and for future generations. From this concern arose the concept of “sustainability”. What has this to do with dredging and maritime infrastructure construction? Everything. The roots of dredging are maintaining harbors, access channels and river depths, but over time the dredging industry has evolved into a major instrument for maritime sustainability. Dredging projects worldwide now spend more and more attention to sustainability and dredging R&D is ever more dedicated to finding economic and environmental solutions that are in harmony. The articles in this issue of Terra demonstrate the multitude of ways in which dredging offers constructive approaches to finding sustainable solutions.

The first article focuses on land reclamation, proving the economic viability of creating new land in the water, instead of constructing homes, recreation and industrial sites in densely populated areas. Land expansion into nearby waters gives urban populations room for growth, avoids overcrowding and its associated social ills, and all this with reasonable financial investments. The restoration of a waterfront that had suffered terribly from a century of industrial development, followed by years of neglect, is the subject of a second article. This newly dredged area is now a revitalized public park and recreational area. The remediation of a highly polluted river in a historically industrial site was extremely difficult. In a third article, this milestone that has taken 30 years to realize is described. Thanks to modern dredging techniques and environmentally sound treatment methods, as well as the political will to remedy the situation, a turnaround is taking place. And lastly, using specialized relocation methods, the ingenuity of the dredging industry is evident, as hundreds of thousands of coral and indigenous marine life have been transplanted to safe maritime areas preventing their destruction. This allowed a cruise ship terminal to be improved, balancing the economic necessity of a Caribbean country to meet its needs for the tourist industry – an important economic driver – with a sustainable solution. The major dredging contractors spend an enormous amount of time and energy focused on sustainability. Articles like these illustrate the dedication of the dredging industry to sustainable development and the commitment of the industry’s leaders to create a better world for future generations.

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