USACE: Record setting dredging season comes to end

The Dredge Potter crew finished up an unprecedented 2022-23 season on February 1, 2023, that required tremendous teamwork to maintain the congressionally mandated nine-foot-deep, 300-foot-wide navigation channel and overcome the challenges from the widespread drought, and prolonged extreme low water that affected the Mississippi River basin, USACE said.


Dredging operations moved nine million cubic yards of material, at 70 different locations along 300 miles of the St. Louis District.

In total, seven dredging units – dustpan, cutterhead and mechanical – were working throughout the St. Louis District area of responsibility.

Two other units, for a total of nine, supported Mississippi Valley Division efforts on the Mississippi River.

Normally, an average year results in three to four million cubic yards of material being moved in the St. Louis District by two dredges.

In anticipation of the drought, the St. Louis District Dredging Program Manager, Lance Engle, implemented advanced measures – bringing in additional assets ahead of the forecasted lows – to maintain the congressionally authorized channel.

As the extreme low water persisted month after month, closely monitored surveys were consistently reviewed in conjunction with the forecast and input from industry to determine the order and coordination of work and additional assets needed.

The ability of the team to present a common operating picture through meetings, phone calls and the Navigation Conditions Status Report enabled the safe planning and shipment of waterborne commerce in support of the nation’s economy.

For reference, it would take more than 2,700 Olympic-size swimming pools to contain the nine million cubic yards of dredge material removed from the riverbed this year, compared with just 1,000 Olympic-size swimming pools in a normal season.