A joint roundtable discussion was held in Washington, DC, in mid-December between the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Dredging Contractors of America’s owners and chief operating officers of hopper and specialised dustpan dredger owning companies.
A significant portion of the discussion with the chiefs revolved around the Mississippi River’s Southwest Pass, the lessons learned from the previous flood season, and the path forward for 2020.
According to the National Weather Service, this year’s flood season, which lasted from December 2018 to August 2019, is recorded as the longest-known flood period on the lower Mississippi River dating back to 1543. The Bonnet Carré Spillway was used for the 13th time in its history, and the first time in consecutive years. In May, and for the first time ever in its history, the Bonnet Carré Spillway was opened a second time in the same year due to excessive rainfall upriver.
To help with the flooding situation, the US private sector dredging industry worked in conjunction with the government’s ready reserve programme. Moving forward, the USACE has begun contracting in advance for dedicated private sector hopper dredges with a Gulf Coast Regional hopper contract, an early open by amendment programme, and securing large-scale cutterhead suction dredges for advance dredging operations.