CEDA Dredging Days 2021: Sustainable Dredging And Innovation

Promotional banner of the CEDA Dredging Days 2021 (Credit: CEDA)
Promotional banner of the CEDA Dredging Days 2021 (Credit: CEDA)

Tomorrow, another event with a long tradition will start: the CEDA Dredging Days1. Due to the Covid issues, this time, it will be a virtual event, just as a lot of other regular happenings. Hopefully, it will be the last days of this dreadful period. I can’t wait to meet people again in real life. Back at the office, we are slowly starting to get back. But meetings with people far outside the regular circle were difficult. For instance, I was a member of the Technical Paper & Program Committee and the preparation was completely digital.

Home page of your CEDA Dredging Days on the Swapcard platform (Credit: CEDA)
Home page of your CEDA Dredging Days on the Swapcard platform (Credit: CEDA)

Now, the event itself is also digital. Of course, this is still not the real thing. Having a coffee and a chat in the lobby is a much more enjoyable experience than sitting in front of your screen. I have to say that with the Sawpcard platform2 selected by the organising committee, it is much easier to arrange your own program, adapted to your personal interests. Moreover, it will also facilitate meeting people with the same interest. In a sense, this might be an opportunity to approach those. In the real world, people will not get seated next to you when they have the same interest. And certainly don’t have them captioned on their chest.

Pump design workflow (inspired by Suman Sapkota)
Pump design workflow (inspired by Suman Sapkota)

As member of the TPPC, I had the opportunity of a sneak preview of the articles and presentations and I can guarantee there are a lot of interesting sessions. For starters, there are three presentations by my colleagues. Suman Sapkota will have presentation on his research in various novel methods to apply numerical research into the design of dredge pumps3. We are happy to share with you some experiences and insights on the Dredging Days.

Testing the non-radioactive density sensor
Testing the non-radioactive density sensor

Another presentation will be by Frank Bosman4. He has been active in the development of an instrument that will measure the mixture density, without using a radio-active source. This intelligent solution is not only more sustainable, but will also provide easier access to this information. If you don’t know the density, you are very likely to underperform with your dredge. He will present some experiences and data gathered on the performance of this system.

Example of recent electric DOP dredge family

Our last presentation will be by René Sens3. Less technical, but surely an interesting perspective on the future of dredging equipment. Everyone in the dredging community is aware of the necessity to change and adapt to a more sustainable approach of our dredging business. There is an urgency to reach the goals set by the UN to leave the world behind as a better place than we received it. Although usually an increase in size also increases the efficiency of a dredge, the UN goals look beyond that single parameter. With that in mind, small and medium size dredges will be far more interesting than at first sight.

Session 7: Young CEDA ask a CEO (Credit: CEDA)
Session 7: Young CEDA ask a CEO (Credit: CEDA)

There will be a lot more going on and I could produce a long list of other interesting presentations. I think you should also check out: Edwin de Hoog and Joep Goeree, Basel Yousef and Jeroen van Stappen, and if you really want to get academic: Janek Gundlach, Ebi Shahmirzadi and Arno Talmon. You can just add to your own list and see who also joins in in the audience. Other interesting sessions will be the student ‘Flash Talks’5 and the ‘Young CEDA ask a CEO’ session6 with Peter Berdovski and Kees van de Graaf. And I am very curious what the other working groups and commissions of CEDA have to present about their work.

Thursday evening is the big get together of the dredging community; meet you there! (Credit: CEDA)
Dredging Days as a they used to be: personal interaction (Credit: CEDA)


  1. CEDA Dredging Days 2021, CEDA
  2. CEDA Dredging Days 2021, Outsourced Events
  3. Session 5: Latest in dredging equipment and technology
  4. Session 2: Developments in modelling and measuring hydraulic transport, CEDA
  5. Session 8: Young CEDA Flash Talks
  6. Session 7: Young CEDA ask a CEO

See also

Historical Origins Exhibition at the WODCON: the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal

Last section of the Grand Canal in Beijing.

Another impressive dredging accomplishment in ancient China is the well-known Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Of course this was also featured in the Historical Origins of Dredging in China exhibition at the latest instalment of the WODCON in Shanghai. During our visits to Shanghai1 and Beijing2, we’ve seen the canal at both ends, although they are an impressive 1797km apart.

Grand Canal exhibit in the Historical Origins exhibition at the WODCON.

Triggered by the sign board at the exhibition, I wanted to know more about this immense project. 2500 Years ago, the designation of Beijing as capital of China, was followed by an increase of the population. Any further expansion of the city was limited to the resources available nearby for supporting all these new citizens. The great rulers of ancient China, wanted to access the supplies of the south, where food and crops were abundant. It was decided to dig a canal, all the way from Hangzhou to Beijing3. The importance of the canal for the ancient Chinese civilisation is equivalent to what nowadays the Intracoastal Waterway means for the New York area. Although the ICW is an even longer waterway, it consists mostly of natural water bodies. This makes the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal the longest dredged canal in the world.

Map of the various sections of the Grand Canal (Credit: Wikipedia).

The sign falsely boasts, that the Grand Canal is the oldest canal in the world. Sorry, that honour belongs to our ancient Egyptian engineers4. But the Chinese can be proud their canal is still in use today, whereas the Canal of the Pharaohs is now only used for irrigation. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in China is therefore actively maintained. Partly even the traditional way: by hand.

Maintenance of the Grand Canal in the last section in Beijing.

After establishing the age and the length of the Grand Canal, there is another property that might be interesting: the width. I’ve seen sections varying between 10 and 50 meters. Probably the range is even more. Initially the width was depending on the local circumstances, requirements for navigation and possibly the limitations of manual labour.

Explanation on parameters for channel width determination.

Today, the width of a canal can be carefully engineered and a customer may require that the contractor delivers the width exactly. Therefore, it is necessary to know exactly what the capabilities of your cutter suction dredge are. Both at the lowest depth and at shallower depths for the slope of the sides. Knowing the geometry and the dimensions of the cutter suction dredge, one can calculate the reach with complicated trigonometry. Or one can build a model in the 3D environment of the design of the project and see what is possible5. There is also another clever solution to this problem. For every cutter suction dredge we designed, we developed a geometric scale model. It takes into account ladder depth, spud carriage length and swing angle. The result is the canal width that is possible for that cutter suction dredge. A further simple multiplication of canal width, cut height and channel length reveals the production volume. Either onboard or at the office, it provides a nice little instrument for production estimation.

Geometric scale model of a CSD650 for canal width calculation.


  1. WODCON, Damen
  2. Historical Origins Exhibition at the WODCON: Yu the Great, Discover Dredging
  3. Grand Canal (China), Wikipedia
  4. The Ancient History of the Cutter Suction Dredge ‘10th of Ramadan’, Discover Dredging
  5. Positioning and Survey System, Damen

See also



HYDRO 2018 Gdansk: Selecting A Dredge For Your Reservoir Maintenance

Barrage du Ksob, M’Sila, Algeria with a DOP dredge 350

This week, I am here in Gdansk for a presentation on the HYDRO 2018 Conference1 and assist at the Damen booth at the corresponding exhibition. The paper and the presentation are already prepared and I am very excited to do the presentation, but I can’t wait till tomorrow and I like to share the story now, already. So, you, as my favourite audience, will have my personal spoiler after so many teasers have been floating around2,3,4.

General modes of siltation at the usual location in a reservoir

The thing is, dam maintenance and reservoir restoration is something already long on my attention list. Back already in 2008, I wrote a paper on this subject for the CEDA Dredging Days5. Over and over we’ve conveyed the message on various platforms, that dredging might be a viable solution for sedimentation problems in reservoirs. Usually, the solution by dam owners and operators is to flush, sluice or store the sediment. This looks horrible from a dredging perspective, but it is also to the environment. You either smother or starve the downstream river with sediment. As a right minded dredge enthusiast, you see many possibilities to dredge such a project. Immediately we can identify what dredge to use on which location for which purpose.

Selection of applicable dredges for reservoir dredging

If you are very close to the dam and the length of the discharge line allows it, you might even not need a dredge pump. (No wear parts!) It is a so called siphon dredge. But as soon as there is some further transport involved, either distance or uphill, you need a dredge like a cutter suction dredge or a DOP dredge. For even further discharge, you might employ a booster for increased discharge pressure. If the distance becomes very far, you might have to resort to grabs and barges.

Water injection dredging principle and example (this example would be too big for a common reservoir)

As an intermediate solution you might even consider using a water injection dredge. Usually the reservoir is in the mountains and a bottom gradient will be present, enabling the required gravity flow. The actual dredge should have created a silt trap where it can collect the inflowing material from the water injection dredge. Than it can handle the material as usual.

Alternative uses for the dredged sediment a) silt farming as fertile additive b) gravel extraction for concrete

Off course, the dredged sediment belongs to the river and the best thing would be to gradually release the sediment after the dam. But there might be conditions, where it is beneficial to extract the valuable fraction of the sediment and use it for agriculture or as aggregate in the construction industry.

Dredge selection diagram for reservoirs

We noticed, that it is often difficult to convey to dam owners and operators which dredge to select for which job. Sediment is seen as a liability and not as an asset and they rather neglect issues associated with the sediment. So, I made an attempt to have a plain and simple selection diagram. That is the core of my manuscript. But my objective is, that we will see many beautiful dredges contributing to a sustainable and viable operation of hydropower dams and reservoirs.

New DOP dredge family


  1. HYDRO 2018: Progress through partnerships, Hydropower and Dams
  2. LinkedIn Teaser, Saskia den Herder
  3. Damen: Spotlight on Hydro Power Dam Maintenance
  4. LinkedIn Teaser, Olivier Marcus
  5. Multi Functional Small Dredging Solution For Maintenance Of Deep Irrigation Reservoirs And Hydro Power Dams, CEDA

See also