USACE stresses safe boating around dredging operations

With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday around the corner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District has a public safety announcement for recreational boaters on the Galveston Harbor and Channel.

In collaboration with Orion Marine Group—the contractor carrying out the dredging in the Galveston Harbor and Channel—USACE stressed increasing awareness of the dredge operations in the channel to local recreational boaters in anticipation of the upcoming long holiday weekend. According to statistics, boating accidents are one of the top five most common mishaps during the Fourth of July.

“While enjoying their holiday out on the water, people might not be aware of the potential danger boating too close to a dredge poses,” said USACE Galveston’s Safety and Occupational Health Chief Jason Shreve.

“A dredge is a floating barge that basically clears out the bed of a harbor, river, or channel and excavates materials from the bottom of the water,” Shreve added. “Dredging is usually done to reshape the land on the bottom of a body of water to improve navigability, construct dams, or recover valuable minerals on the sea floor.”

“It’s basically a floating construction zone,” said Orion’s Vice President of Business Development Marshall DeLuca. “As such, people need to keep a safe distance from it—at least 100 feet—because they can get hurt or damage their watercraft if they get too close.”

Shreve and DeLuca advise boaters in the Galveston Harbor to be especially mindful of the marked pipelines trailing the dredge, which relocates the dredge material to wherever it is being repurposed.

“While the pipeline is marked with buoys and lights, it sits just below the surface and it is difficult to tell just how far below the surface it is,” Shreve said. Most dredge-related public accidents involve pipeline collisions, he added.

Shreve and DeLuca also recommend boaters avoid passing a dredge on the side marked with red lights.

Photo: USACE