According to nola.com, Steve Miller traveled to New Orleans this week on the chance that someone from a Louisiana coastal community might stop by his booth at the State of the Coast conference to ask him about how Ellicott Dredges might help them rebuild coastal wetlands.
“I read about the show and saw it as a real opportunity, but had no real preconceived notions that I’d be down here selling dredges,” Miller said.
But by Tuesday afternoon, Miller was bowled over by the number of people asking questions about the cutterhead dredges his company manufactures in Baltimore, Md., and New Richmond, Wisc.
“We’ve been presenting them with options for both contractors and end users, local counties and government entities to consider owning and operating their own dredges,” he said.
With the state of Louisiana announcing this week that it plans on spending at least $500 million on coastal restoration projects in 2012 and 2013, and the promise of billions of dollars more being spent on restoration projects in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states to mitigate damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there were a lot of happy representatives of engineering and service companies staffing booths in the conference’s exhibition hall on the first floor of the Ernest Morial Convention Center Monday through Wednesday.
For Miller, it was a first foray into a new market, where national dredging companies with their own equipment have been hired by the Army Corps of Engineers or the state of Louisiana to remove sediment from the Mississippi River and coastal areas and pump it through pipelines to create new wetland platforms in open water.
But Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser has made no secret that he’d like to see the state buy its own dredge that could be available for restoration work year-round, which would avoid the expensive start-up and shut-down costs associated with hired dredges.
Ellicott has a long history of selling dredges to states or local governments that have adopted similar strategies, Miller said.
“We just completed the delivery of a dredge to the state of Ohio that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources owns and is staffed by state personnel,” he said.
The dredge will remove sediment and algae from Grand Lake, the largest lake in the state, he said.
Several Florida counties have bought dredges that are used to clear port and inlet channels along the coast, with the sand and sediment deposited on nearby beaches.
The Ellicott Dredges booth was one of 47 staffed by engineering, construction, coastal services or products firms. Interspersed between them were another 14 staffed by representatives of state and federal agencies and environmental groups with coastal programs.
Dredging Today Staff, July 1, 2012; Image: dredge