Posted on October 12, 2023
The 2023 WEDA East Coast Chapter Conference drew almost 200 people, presented 15 technical papers and fielded a dozen exhibit booths displaying products. It was held on October 10th through 12th in Jacksonville, Fl. Welcome remarks were done by Col. James Booth, the District Commander Jacksonville District. The Jacksonville District, which was well represented at the conference, serves six of the 30 top U.S. largest ports in its district. He spoke about the various Hurricane Ian relief projects and how they have already met the 2023 71% beneficial reuse of dredged material in the district, with the goal of exceeding that in the coming years. The Col emphasized the important role dredge contractors play in conjunction with the Corp in maintaining the ports, waterways and doing beach renourishment.
A day and half of technical paper presentations covered a wide range of issues, projects and use techniques. There were multiple presentations on Ports of Jacksonville & Norfolk deepening projects and beneficial reuse of material for beach renourishment. Jacksonville recently completed deepening their port to 47’ and the Port of Norfolk has allocated $450 million to deepening and widening their channel to 55 ft and width of up to 1,400 ft.
A panel discussion on Dredging Technology Innovation touched on best methods of utilizingnew technology to gain the most efficiency. The U.S. industry has been playing catch up in this area, but in recent years with the new built dredges as implemented new technology to improve overall efficiencies in fuel consumption, emissions, production, and data tracking. The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was discussed, and it was thought that AI will be used in increasing performance and efficiencies in dredging, but it will not, soon, replace the experience of a dredge operator and crew. What is currently more concerning for the industry is finding qualified people and how to attract young people to the dredging industry.
An evening reception at the Jacksonville Museum of Science & History capped off the event.