Book Review: Dredging For Sustainable Infrastructure

‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

Last week, I attended the last sessions of the ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ course, jointly organised by CEDA1 and IADC2. This course is intended to quickly absorb the contents of the book of the same name3 and have a hands on experience of the novel methodology proposed. The book has been written by many different people as members of the participating organisations. As such, it is the condensed knowledge and ideas of the dredging community on a modern approach to infrastructure projects. Although there is a straightforward structure in the book, the publishers initiated courses as an introduction to the book.

Structure of the book (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
Structure of the book (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

As Covid-19 swept across Europe and thwarted the intended live course days, the sessions were postponed and eventually held online. The presenters, Erik van Eekelen, Thomas Vijverberg and Mark Lee did a good job of introducing us to the book and supervise us in the break out working groups. The central storyline of the working groups was the harbour expansion of the fictional port of Tomigo in the fairy land of Quandany. Each of the participants was assigned a role to represent the consultant, the fishing community, the nature conservancy organisations, the power plant etc. A revelation for me from this interaction is how easy you are inclined to be egocentric in the defence of your interests. With just a little more attention to the other interests, there might be much better opportunities for yourself and for the whole of the project.

New harbour basin development at the port of Tomigo (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
New harbour basin development at the port of Tomigo (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

The incentive to produce a book on this novel approach in dredging projects was the UN initiative to launch 17 Sustainable Development Goals4 and the book addresses most of these goals. If we can truly lift the proposed working procedures into an industry standard or even a social mentality, this will be a paradigm shift from where the project was the centre of attention to: ‘Where can nature and society benefit from an economic requirement?’ The next step will be from philosophy to action.

United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals (Credit: United Nations)
United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals (Credit: United Nations)

The focus of the book is very much on the initial stages of a project: include sustainability on the basis of the design of a project, demonstrating options for sustainable solutions suggestion of sustainable techniques. As a dredging equipment manufacturer5, most of the topics will not affect my daily work. Still, in the work group sessions, it was interesting to see the interaction between the various parties that are involved with the initiation of a project. As a dredge builder4, we usually meet the requirements for the equipment applied. Though, the technical solution to achieve this might be not the most commercial solution. However, the book makes it clear and provides examples, that taking all aspects of a project into account, including social and nature opportunities, the benefits of a sustainable approach of a project might still make a viable business case.

Three pillars of sustainability (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
Three pillars of sustainability (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

The verdict on the book: it is a reference book. And as such it is very tiresome to plough through. However, the course is very enlightening as introductory lectures into the contents. Then the meticulously compiled information starts to live. Don’t depend on the courses alone, also leaf through and note all the valuable tables, graphs and diagrams, especially the guiding boxes that can assist you in setting up your dredging project. It definitely belongs on your bookshelf.

‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ in our bookshelf
‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ in our bookshelf

References

  1. CEDA and IADC launches new ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ Course, CEDA
  2. Online Course ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’, IADC
  3. Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure, CEDA&IADC
  4. The 17 goals, United Nations
  5. Damen Dredging Equipment, Damen

See also

Book Review: Donald Duck A Muddy Fine Business; Artistic Equipment Design

Front page of Penny Pincher magazine with Donald Duck as dredge master (Credit: Disney)
Front page of Penny Pincher magazine with Donald Duck as dredge master (Credit: Disney)

Donald Duck is a Jack of all trades, that he eventually he would end up on a dredge was inevitable. The story was already published in 1977 in a Donald Duck comic magazine. It is written by Freddy Milton1 and drawn by Daan Jippes2. At that time, I read it and already liked it very much. Later, I had it in a comic album3, but lost it moving to a new house. I wanted to review this story here already for a long time. Eventually, I consulted ‘Bul Super’ in Delft4, he advised me to search for Daan Jippes. That helped to find the story back on the internet.5

Opening scene of ‘Muddy Fine Business’ or ‘Success Test’ (Credit: Disney)
Opening scene of ‘Muddy Fine Business’ or ‘Success Test’ (Credit: Disney)

The story revolves around the endless feud between Donald Duck and Gladstone Gander. This time they have to compete in a success test by operating two different vessels: a ferry, ‘Seagull’ and a dredge ‘Aristoteles’. They have varying degrees of success and the outcome is unexpected.

The best known illustrator of Donald Duck is Carl Barks6. But Daan grew into his footsteps and eventually his stories are at the same level as the original master. He was with the Disney studios in the USA, but was working mostly in the Netherlands. In this edition, Jippes drew one of the most Dutch professions: dredging. Jippes had a keen eye for the elements that make up a dredge, tough the execution lacks some reality. Here I want to highlight some shortcomings that will help to illustrate the tricks that should have made it work and explain how real life dredging equipment functions.

Various details of the ‘Aristoteles’ (Modified from Disney)
Various details of the ‘Aristoteles’ (Modified from Disney)

The ‘Aristoteles’ is a truly multi-functional dredging vessel. It features both a grab and a bucket chain and the sediment can be loaded unto the vessel itself like a hopper or into a barge in tow. It is also self-propelled, although there seems to be a magical power generation as there is no visible exhaust pipe. Maybe Donald is again ahead of his time and running fully electric already?

Than the dredging equipment; the grab is suspended from a gantry, but it does not seem to be able to swing. Loading the tow barge would be difficult, as he has to reposition either the dredge or the barge. Apparently Donald should know about the technology of a rotating crane, as the picture on the front page has such a crane. And how would the material end up in the hopper?

Discharging buckets with reception carriage on a bucket ladder dredge
Discharging buckets with reception carriage on a bucket ladder dredge

Maybe with the other dredging tool: the obvious bucket chain? Though it is not supported on a ladder. Maybe that makes sense, as the buckets seem to be positioned on port or starboard in various panels. The material falling from the buckets might end up in the hopper. The vertical orientation presents some difficulty, as the material will fall onto the previous bucket and eventually through the well. In a normal operation, this is controlled by moving a carriage receiving the load and bringing it to the chutes. With a real vertical orientation, this would not be helpful anymore.

I once saw a solution for working with a vertical bucket chain on an exhibit in the National Dredging Museum7. A manual operated drawer-like slide was moved between every passing bucket to catch the load. It seems very labour intensive and prone to accidents.

Even after breaking down these operational details in the design of the ‘Aristoteles’, the vessel serves its purpose in the story: it is a really useful dredge for dredge master Donald. Well done Daan.

Exhibit with vertical ladder at the national dredging museum
Exhibit with vertical ladder at the national dredging museum

Call to the audience

The exhibit is still there, but unfortunately, it is broken. The mechanism has to be repaired, any model building fanatics are invited to help the museum restore it. There is a special event for new volunteers, now!

References

  1. Freddy Milton, Wikipedia
  2. Daan Jippes, Wikipedia
  3. Oom Dagobert En De Ondergrondse Kluis, nr34, Disney
  4. Stripboekhandel Bul Super
  5. Read online Walt Disney’s Comics Penny Pincher comic – Issue #4, ZipComic
  6. Carl Barks, Wikipedia
  7. Nationaal Baggermuesum

See also

Book Review: En De Sé Wie Net Maer

Book cover ‘En De Se Wie Net Maer’ by A.A. van der Werf1.

Another holiday is coming up. Another book recommendation for the armchair dredger. Well, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, a lot of preparations in just too short a time. Probably too little time to read a book. That fits, today’s book under review is only partly interesting from a dredging perspective. It is about the reclamation of the Noordoostpolder. Moreover, it is written in Frisian. So, also only a selected part of the audience will be able to actually read it. Then, why recommend it anyway? Because it will give you a good anecdote at the dinner table, where you can proudly illustrate the ingenuity of us in the dredging industry.

Historic map2 of the Noordoostpolder from 1946. (Credit: Emmeloord.info)

First some introductory details about the Noordoostpolder3. A polder is reclaimed land by isolating it from the sea by a dike and pumping the water out4. It provides cheap land with relative little soil movement, only the dike. In the early twentieth century, the Netherlands needed lots of land for a rapidly expanding population, agriculture and industry. The first real big polder  was the ‘Wieringermeerpolder’. And the ‘Noordoostpolder’ was the first real IJsselmeer polder, as it was started in 1936 after the closing of the ‘Afsluitdijk’. Work continued well into the second world war. And part of the book is about the interaction of the German army, the Dutch people and the resistance. Due to this storyline, the book is also, part fact, part fiction.

Canal dredging in the still submerged Noordoostpolder.

One fact in the book was right. In the polder, you would need canals for drainage, irrigation and transportation. And the easiest way is to dredge it. Although not a real historic account of the events, the book does contain pictures of the project. And in the picture above, you can see something special: a bucket ladder dredge with a pipe line! Normally a bucket ladder dredge5 would load barges, but the very shallow lake and the narrow canals were not facilitating easy handling of the barges. In these cases, they used some sort of soil pump. In the above picture it cannot be seen, but in the archives of my work, we have lots of pictures of them. Basically they are big boxes with jet nozzles and dredge pumps connected to a discharge line. The end of the discharge line could be positioned over the location of future roads and effectively deposit the foundation of the road.

Soil pump ‘GP3’ by De Groot Nijkerk, at work in a narrow canal, here loaded by drag lines.

Nowadays, you would probably use a barge and suspend a DOP in it6.

Unfortunately, the second world war intervened. Still, the German occupation brought the project to a conclusion. The story details about the contractor (‘Verhei’*) not willing to cooperate with the occupier after the project. So, he had his dredge (‘Holland’*) enclosed within the dike. There were locks in the dike, but the pontoon was too wide for the locks. This prevented the confiscation of the dredge. After the liberation, the dredge was still there, and everybody was laughing at the contractor, as his dredge was hemmed in the dike. It turned out , he outsmarted them all. He removed everything above the deck line and with two floating gantries he coaxed the pontoon through the locks on its side!

Pontoon of bucket ladder dredge ‘Holland’* on edge for lock passage.

*Names are fictionalised by the author, but he states that the described events did really occur as described.

References

  1. En De Se Wie Net Maer, A.A. van der Werf
  2. Urkerland of Noordoostpolder, Emmeloord.info
  3. Polder, Wikipedia
  4. Noordoostpolder, Wikipedia
  5. Emmerbaggermolen, Wikipedia (Dutch)
  6. DOP Pump 350 with leveler head, Damen

See also