As the sun on the dredging season in the Midwest inland areas began to set, operations were starting to heat up on the east coast for J.F. Brennan Company (Brennan).
For a third straight year, Brennan has had the opportunity to procure work in the milder maritime climate throughout New England during the winter months.
These months are key for in-water work on the east coast as they provide opportunities to revitalize salt marshes, re-nourish beaches and restore navigation outside of the fish migration and spawning windows.
This season, Brennan’s Environmental group procured a winter river restoration project in Rhode Island. The general scope for this project remained along the lines of past work, where the company restored river depths to facilitate and improve water quality, fish migration, but this one came with a twist; its footprint was tightly nestled within the low bridges and bustling infrastructure of Waterplace Park in downtown Providence, RI.
Providence and Woonasquatucket River Dredging Begins
Brennan crew began mobilizing personnel and equipment to the project site during early November. By Thanksgiving, the crew had assembled a high-speed dewatering system some two miles away, moved the dredge Grand Calumet through and under a ridiculous amount of low-clearance bridge spans.
A dedicated 12-member team worked diligently 24/7 from this point forward, focused on removing sand and debris from Waterplace Park beginning in the upstream extents progressing down.
Plastic Waste Slowed River Restoration Operations
Debris, mostly in the form of single-use plastic products, were commingled with the target material at staggering proportions. This debris significantly hindered the effective operating time of the dredge and transport system and in many cases accounted for up to 40% of the day lost due to pump and cutterhead cleanings.
Beyond plastic, the team encounter and removed 16 electric scooters and 17 bikes from the Providence and Woonasquatucket River. The patience and professionalism of the team ultimately persevered in the end, completing the goals of the project within the required time window and without any injuries.
Small Dredge Makes Important Impact in Downtown Waterway
When it was all said and done, the dredge Grand Calumet removed 12,385 cubic yards of sediment material, most of which was sand, and dewatered it for potential beneficial reuse in East Providence.
The onsite crew provided innovative and effective solutions to the stakeholders for complex issues. In return, the team had full support from their client; The Nature Conservancy, along with the City of Providence, State of Rhode Island, Providence Foundation, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, WaterFire Providence and all the local residence of Providence, RI.
Written by Paul Olander, PMP–Senior Project Manager at Brennan