Dredging Michigan’s Harbors

June 17, 2008

great lake - dredging

great lake – dredging, photo by j image.

Jim captured folks working at one of the many under-appreciated tasks in the world: dredging our harbors. As a lifelong resident of a coastal village, I anticipated the arrival of the dredging crew as a sign that summer was on the way. The US Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District explains why dredging is necessary on the Great Lakes:

Nearly all Federal harbors on the Great Lakes are located at the mouth of a river or along a coastline, utilizing natural or dredged navigation channels. Lake and river currents transport sand and silt eroded from the coastline and watershed. Some of this material may become deposited in navigation channels. Dredging is necessary to allow for safe commercial navigation and recreational boating. These natural processes would eventually lead to the filling of our harbors and waterways with rock, sand, mud, or clay. Harbors and major rivers, so vital to commercial, recreational and defense activities, would eventually fill in, leading to vessel delays and grounding. Today’s ore carriers, container ships, oil tankers and Coast Guard vessels need deep channels and docking facilities to move freely. Dredging is necessary to maintain Americas waterborne commerce and defense capability.

In addition, many recreational harbors need to be dredged regularly to remain open for small craft.

The page also explains something called “Beach Nourishment”, which I thought was a pretty unique term. Here’s a few dredging photos from the Absolute Michigan pool (slideshow)

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