Dredging is essential to the construction and maintenance of maritime projects for navigation, ports, land reclamation, and offshore energy exploitation.

Defining the need for a dredging project

The decision to initiate a dredging project is a complicated process. It involves the client assessing a need, and then seeking input from regulatory agencies, contractors and stakeholders to develop a plan to implement the project.

Early Contractor Involvement

Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) provides an efficient means of designing and planning infrastructure projects in a cost-effective, efficient and cooperative structure, which increases transparency and shared responsibilities, reducing risks and reasons for disputes.


Financing a dredging project usually occurs through a lending institution that will require a preliminary design with the project concept, preparation, detailed engineering, construction, operational targets and environmental measures.

Site investigation

Site investigations are a first step in the accurate preparation to define the design of the project, the type of equipment needed and to limit problems arising from unforeseen conditions.


The procurement process begins with developing prequalification criteria for contractors, as well as tender and bidding documents, the issuance of tender documents by the client, and then the review of tenders by the client and consulting engineers employed by the client.


Contracts for dredging projects can take many forms depending on the size and type of project. Alliance contracts, public-private partnerships and traditional contracts as developed by FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) are amongst the forms of contract available.


The complexity of planning a dredging project should not be underestimated. Assessing the need, considering alternatives, acquiring adequate scientific and environmental data and being aware of permitting and other regulations is part of the process to develop an integrated plan.

Borrow area selection

Borrow area selection for reclamation and beach restoration projects is an important part of project planning as a good borrow area affects the feasibility of a project. It defines the amount of available, suitable fill at a reasonable distance from the site, it determines the type of equipment that will be used and it will have a financial impact on the project.

Equipment selection

The selection of equipment is one of the most important considerations in a dredging project and depends on the type of material being dredged and location of the project. The appropriate equipment will be cost-effective and environmentally sound.

Design phases

The design of a dredging project goes through several phases – a preliminary design, a more detailed design, a final construction design, and maintenance. A rational design will integrate functional and performance requirements taking into account boundary conditions, equipment and working methods.

Construction phase

The construction phase requires creating detailed specifications for the contract documents; soliciting and awarding tenders; establishing an administration structure and inspection scheme; and establishing monitoring parameters for during construction.

Operation and maintenance phase

The operation and maintenance phase of the dredging project begins once construction has been completed. Operations and maintenance are recurring works that will ensure that the project functions properly for as long as possible.


Monitoring is often stipulated in a dredging contract and part of permitting regulations. It will occur before works start to establish a baseline for the dredging site, continue during construction, and often be required for a specified time period after completion of the dredging works.

Maintenance (after completion of the project)

Once a dredging operation has been completed, maintaining the site is of great importance to ensure that the initial investment remains intact and functions as planned.

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