In our previous blog, we discussed dredging and climate change, and how the industry is responding to a dramatically changing climate. The reality is that the earth’s climate is changing in ways we don’t yet fully realize. With these changes come new logistical issues for dredging companies who have to adapt to an evolving environment. The issue of climate change is on the mind of every dredger, and these challenges, in particular, are ones they will have to react to sooner rather than later.
Port And Harbor Issues
Ports and harbors are easily the world’s busiest pieces of maritime infrastructure. Shipping containers disgorge tons of cargo and goods at ports and harbors every day. Despite the high volume of use, these areas are susceptible to changing sea levels. This is due, in part, to the proposed lifespan of an individual port or harbor, which is typically about 40-50 years before it needs to be rebuilt, or expanded, excluding regular dredging work to remove built-up sediments. Many existing ports and harbors were built without concern for rising water levels and may face the issue of flooding or being washed away. Dredgers will play an increasingly important role in the maintenance of these infrastructural pieces.
That’s because dredges will be needed to address a variety of water management issues. The ports and harbors will need to be made deeper by dredgers. Similarly, drainage areas will need to be expanded and reinforced due to the increased frequency of heavy storms. Finally, taller, and more robust storm walls will need to be erected to manage the waters within the port. While dredging companies already carry out many of these tasks, the frequency by which they will need to be done raises concerns about whether the number of trained operators and machines that are at each company’s disposal can meet this demand.
Flooding, in particular, has been one of the more dramatic examples of global climate change. For instance, Houston, Texas was the victim of terrible flooding after Hurricane Harvey. Dredges will be utilized to create new drainage ditches, sculpt pathways for the water to flow through, and to increase the size of retention ponds and reservoirs to ensure that these spaces do not overflow. The difficulty in these tasks, of course, is in predicting just how much larger these pieces need to be. While earlier generations could make fair assumptions about annual rainfall, and build drainage infrastructure according, in a period of dramatic changes, it grows increasingly more difficult to offer accurate estimates. Dredging companies then may expand a retention pond once, only to have to expand it again a few short years later in response to severe, and regular flooding.
Despite the seemingly enormous task ahead of them, leaders in the dredging industry are preparing to tackle the challenges of climate change head-on by creating new machinery and finding ingenious ways to use the environment itself to assist their projects. US Aqua Services is proud to do their part in helping communities and economic centers prepare for and respond to climate change. Contact us today if you’re in need of dredging services or need to rent dredging equipment for your next project.