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Annual dredging of the BWT and Alabama River ensures reliability

Posted on October 3, 2022

Each year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District dredges the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River and the Alabama River to an adequate depth to ensure reliability of the federal channel to allow commerce to traverse the inland waterways.

Recently, dredging took place at the Buena Vista Bar on the BWT south of the Coffeeville Lock. During the same time, dredging also took place on the Alabama River.

The dredging will continue, as the dredge moves south on the BWT and north on the Alabama River.

“Dredging along the Alabama River will begin near river mile 17 and continue north towards the Claiborne Lock,” said Ashley Kleinschrodt, Chief of the Navigation Section of the Operations Division. “This stretch of river is where most of the shoaling occurs. The dredge will mobilize to the project site in a few weeks and operations are expected to last approximately four to five months.”

Kleinschrodt said the Alabama River primarily has recreational vessels on the system, but that dredging along the river could allow for commerce.

“Dredging of the Alabama River could allow for commercial vessels to navigate the system,” said Kleinschrodt. “There is interest from commercial barging companies that carry materials such as crushed stone, sand and gravel.”

While the dredging is taking place there are safety concerns for boaters and fishermen along the river where the dredging is occurring and that they should adhere to and be mindful of.

“Mariners are urged to use caution and keep a safe distance from the dredge and the adjacent areas where material is placed,” said Kleinschrodt. “They should pass at no wake speed to ensure safety of all involved. Be aware that water depths can change dramatically at sandbars after dredging events.”

Kleinschrodt said the dredging would ensure the waterway is safe for both recreational and commercial vessels.

“The result will be a navigable channel where barges carrying commerce can travel without width or draft restrictions, ensuring efficiency in the delivery of goods and products,” said Kleinschrodt. “Waterborne commerce contributes to the overall economy and economic development of the areas the commercial vessels serve, powering our nation today and into the future.”


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