Winter Dredging

When temperatures drop but there’s dredging work still to be done, what do you do? In many cases, especially in areas where colder temperatures can result in reduced water traffic and fewer moored boats and other seasonal obstacles in your way, dredging in the winter can be more productive than it is when the weather is warm.

Of course, there are certain wintertime dredging considerations you want to be aware of so you and your equipment are safe and perform well. Since GeoForm International is one of the premier pump and portable dredge manufacturers in the country, we want to share these winter dredging tips with you. We have more than two decades of experience supplying high-quality dredges — like the Dino 6 and Dino 8 — and related equipment, such as our submersible pumps and aerators.

Personnel Safety and Comfort

When working on or near water during winter, your first consideration must always be to ensure the safety and comfort of your operators and support crew. As long as they can dress appropriately and weather conditions allow, dredging can be performed. To support comfort and productivity, however, you may want to consider adding some weather protection equipment, such as an umbrella, windbreak or even an enclosure to the operator’s area on the dredge.

Dredging Equipment in the Winter

As far as the dredge itself is concerned, it really doesn’t matter what the external temperature is. For both our Dino 6 and Dino 8 dredges, the onboard Cummins diesel engine includes glow plugs for cold starts, and a block heater is available for extremely frigid conditions.

Environmental Considerations

When temperatures drop below freezing and ice begins to form, the dredge will still be capable of working through a thin ice coverage. However, be advised that your anchor points and cable rigging will suffer strain as the ice gets thicker. Eventually, your ability to break that ice will be limited by your anchor points.

Naturally, a certain amount of ice can be broken up using the cutterhead. However, once the cutterhead is submerged, you’ll eventually be limited by the windlass system. Also, depending on the weather forecast, you don’t want the dredge to get frozen in place overnight or for long temperature drops.

A word of warning: Winter storms can create ice buildups on floating equipment. When ice accumulates in this manner, it can be detrimental to the equipment’s buoyancy.

Freezing Pipelines

You never want water to freeze inside your pipeline overnight — mostly because you want to be able to pump the following morning. To help prevent this from happening, the low spots in your onshore pipeline can be uncoupled to drain standing water at the end of the day. In extreme conditions, you can leave the dredge engine idling overnight with the pump running to keep water continuously flowing through the pipeline. In some situations, the pump can also push a limited amount of ice out of the line.

Discharge and Dewatering

You may need to take some considerations regarding your dewatering method into account. Geotextile dewatering bags are typically not affected by freezing temperatures. In fact, freeze-thaw cycles on geotextile bags actually aid the dewatering process. The ice coverage is usually displaced by the commencement of pumping operations. In contrast, polymers suffer heavily reduced effectiveness as temperatures drop. You’re best advised to consult your polymer distributor for these temperature limits. Keep in mind, however, that since almost all dewatering processes require a certain amount of flow, icing conditions will affect all these operations to some degree.

If you have further questions about dredging in winter or would like more information regarding any of our GeoForm International products, contact us today. An expert member of our team will be in touch shortly.

Interested in learning more about dredging? Check out the resources below:

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