PHOTO: Keeping Rock Island District’s Navigation Channel Open

Almost 1.4 million cubic yards, or 70,000 semitrailer loads – that’s the amount of material the Dredge Goetz has removed from the navigation channel in the Rock Island District over the last five years.

Photo by James Finn, USACE

This figure represents only a fraction of the total amount that has been dredged by the Goetz throughout the St. Paul, Rock Island and St. Louis Districts combined since 2013.

The Goetz, based out of the St. Paul District, spent much of August and September in the Rock Island District, working in Pools 12 and 20.

For those who don’t know exactly how this hydraulic dredge works, or the purpose of dredging the navigation channel, Adrian Loewenhagen, Assistant Captain of the Dredge Goetz, has a simple explanation: “It’s like a blender attached to a vacuum cleaner hose. It stirs up the bottom and sucks it up and discharges it to wherever the authorized site is.”

As for why dredging the channel is needed, that comes down to the navigation mission and the challenges put in place by a water source as powerful as the Mississippi River.

In order to maintain a 9-foot navigation channel, material that settles in the main channel must be removed. This material, such as sand, soil and decomposing vegetation, is constantly moving around in the river and often settles into the channel as the current moves it downstream.

During dredging, the material is removed from the channel and is set aside for a variety of uses including habitat development, wetland creation, aquatic habitat enhancement, winter road maintenance, levee repair and improvement, aggregate for concrete, bank protection and general purpose fill.


Story by James Finn 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District