How to Control Silt During Marine Dredging and Construction

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Firstly let’s address exactly what is meant by the word silt. According to Wikipedia, it is a granular material of a grain size between sand and clay. It comes from broken down soil or rock and when it mixes with a water body it can become suspended in the water to create cloudiness in the water. Another term you may understand is sediment, or, for the more technically minded, plume or turbidity in the water.

Silt and sediment control is a major issue facing the entire construction industry – both on land and on water constructions, and whilst the source of the pollution is similar (broken down & dislodged particles) the treatment on land or on water vary greatly.

In a dredging operation, for example, (or any other marine construction) enormous emphasis is applied to the control of water pollution from the plume (suspended silt). In a recent dredging conference in Western Australia there was substantial discussion and presentation throughout the event on the environmental issues facing marine construction operations. Whilst various silt control methods are being employed by different operators, the overwhelming point was that every dredging operation needs to address the silt management issue at the project development stage – and engage stakeholders in the process.

The answer is that many marine construction companies as well as any construction business where their work creates a risk of waterways pollution, use is a silt curtain to contain and filter the plume.

Ask an expert. Shop around for the best solution. At the end of the day (or night) the quality of the product you choose can directly impact the effectiveness of your environmental policy. Too often I see situations evolve where the cheap option was taken – with too little regard for quality – and the result was non conformance with environmental requirements.

Not to say that the cheapest option is always the incorrect choice. there are companies around where quality is a pre-requisite in production. Your choice may also be influenced by those trying to sell their solution to you. Be aware of these sales people and evaluate your options by asking for case studies and past experience. References may be available to speak to.

New technologies are few and far between in the marine containment industry. What is most relevant is the care taken over the production process. Silt control can be effective through aquatic curtains, when the quality is high and the design is tailored for the requirements.

Ask an expert. Do your homework.

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