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  • Writer's pictureTallulah

How To Prevent Canal Dredging

Canals and river channels that are well-travelled require regular upkeep. Environment agencies like the Canal & River Trust recommend that water quality and organic matter are monitored often to ensure any environmental impact is not harming the local ecosystem.

While maintenance dredging of rivers, dredging a pond, or canals is an inevitable part of good waterways management, there are actions that can be taken to help put off the need for canal dredging for longer.


What is Canal Dredging?


As water flows along a canal, it carries with it organic sediment, mud and man-made litter. Certain areas are more vulnerable to buildups of debris, like tunnels and channels that feed into a canal. When buildups like this happen, a body of water can become clogged, not allowing for the naturally renewing flow of fresh water.

In order for a canal to be dredged, specialist equipment must be used. Contractors like The Rothen Group can supply and operate such heavy equipment as hopper dredgers, suction pipes, and other dredging equipment.


Unlike larger bodies of water, canals tend to need debris removed using equipment that can be situated on river banks, such as diggers. In large lakes, dredged material can be removed with a trailing suction hopper dredger. Like with canals, this removes unwanted material and allows plants and animals better access to nutrients in the water.


Another possible misconception is that suction dredges are used on canals. This is a piece of equipment primarily used in the mining of sand for construction work, and not part of canal maintenance.


While dredging is an inevitable aspect that canal managers or pond owners must embrace, there are ways to prolong the time between dredging sessions.


Prevention Methods

One of the more obvious methods of preventing dredging is to keep the canal clean. Weeds and fallen leaves can block light through to plants that otherwise thrive under the surface of the water. They can also contribute to blockages around canal choke points unless removed. Taking fallen leaves from the canal surface and moving them to a location where they can more safely decompose will help the general health of a canal.

Another method of ensuring the health of a canal is aeration. In certain circumstances the water in a canal can become chemically unbalanced. A lack of oxygen in the water can result in an increase in phosphates. This can lead to an overgrowth of detrimental plants, an increase of unwanted bacteria, and make the canal look and smell unpleasant.


An aeration system involves physically pumping air into the water to aid in the circulation of the water and improve oxygen levels. This helps stimulate healthy bacteria levels and healthy plant growth. With a stronger ecosystem, natural debris can be broken down more efficiently, which means less can build up on the canal bed. With a reduced build-up of debris, the canal will require less dredging than otherwise.

Dredging is not to be dreaded as the impact can keep lakes, ponds and canals healthy and clean. Plant and animal life benefit due to increased sunlight, better quality of water and more access to nutrients.


The Rothen Group has the equipment and expertise ready to help with any canal dredging project. It is always best to consult with the experts.

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