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U.S. Army Corps Performs River Channel Maintenance

Posted on July 5, 2016

By Kelsey Landis, The Telegraph

If passers-by noticed a long vessel churning up water on the Mississippi River this week, they probably caught a glimpse of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performing some channel maintenance.

The process is called dredging, and a dredger vessel — which looks somewhat like a thin pontoon boat with a tugboat on the end — removes sediment from the bottom of the river in a navigation channel and places it outside the channel in open water through a pipe.

The St. Louis Corps District’s particular vessel is called the Dredge Potter. It was named after Brigadier General Charles Lewis Potter, an engineer for the Memphis District from 1900 to 1903, according to the corps’ website.

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On Thursday, the Potter was working on a section of the river — at mile 203 of the Upper Mississippi, to be exact — that became shallow in February, according to a corps spokesperson. The river there only reached 8.5 feet of depth when pool stages were at their lower operating limit.

In coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard and barge towing companies, the corps placed buoys around the shallow area and postponed dredging until the Potter was mobilized.

The Potter started dredging Wednesday morning and is expected to complete her job Friday morning. After she’s finished, the channel should be back in its normal location, said corps spokesperson Amanda Kruse.

The Potter is a “dustpan” dredge, with a 32-inch discharge pipeline. She is capable of dredging approximately 50,000 to 60,000 cubic yards per day. The pipeline used at Alton is a floating pontoon pipeline and is 832 feet long.

The vessel operates continuously, seven days a week around the clock, and is crewed by a total of 51 people made up of permanent and seasonal employees. The employees are divided into three shifts. When one shift is on the clock, another is off duty on the vessel, while the third shift employees are at home.

Source: The Telegraph

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