Adaptive monitoring and execution of dredging operations

In detail

Context, purpose and results

The Guide to Adaptive Monitoring and Execution of Dredging Operations presented here provides guidelines and key steps to stakeholders to set-up and implement an adaptive monitoring and management framework from where all dredging operations can be organized transparently in time. The elements of the framework are built up in such a way that it allows both the adaptive execution of dredging works in vulnerable environments and the generation of new environmental impact knowledge that is needed to further lower the environmental impact of future dredging projects.

This guide is based on international prominent guidance frameworks used by leading experts, corporate businesses, international organizations, governments and financing banks (UN/ECE, 1993; UNCSD, 2001; UNESCO, 2005; WHO, 1996; WorldBank, 2002; OECD, 2003; Holling, 1978; FAO, 2003). The guide is adapted according to the conceptual Frame of Reference by Koningsveld (2003). The latter is chosen because of its specific applicability for dredging activities across the world.

The Guide to Adaptive Dredging Execution:

  • a) makes explicit the links between the planning process, monitoring and evaluation activities, and adaptive management of low impact dredging in sensitive areas;
  • b) provides a structure to develop clear evaluation questions in relation to the impact, appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency of framework policies, programs and initiatives;
  • c) Facilitates the development of logical programme execution strategies across scales and across time frames, including setting achievable targets;
  • d) improves capacity to report on framework performance;
  • e) provides tools for progressively developing a progress overview towards long term goals;
  • f) improves analysis of the successes and shortcomings of strategies;
  • g) improves the performance of programmes, initiatives and projects and enables development of better instruments and policies for sustainable resources.  

Usage  skills

The Guide to Adaptive Monitoring and Execution of Dredging Operations provides guidelines covering the whole dredging operation. In principle, no specific usage skills are needed. The Guide gives basic rules that allow the clear positioning of all the experts, planners, workers and supervisors in the framework accompanying the dredging project. Project planners and organizers can use the Guide to setup the framework (process, people) while supervisors may use the Guide to organize their programs, allowing them to keep good overview and to make well-balanced adaptations, interventions and evaluations. Experts and technicians active in a specific component of the framework structure may use the Guide for directions to better organise their work. The Guide provides valuable background information and instructions on how to optimize their operations and performance in such a way that desired information is obtained and disclosed timely for adaptation or intervention. Other subcontractors, clients, technicians, managers, decision makers, experts, share- and stakeholders, even the common public may use the Guide as an information document to see where they relate to the different elements of the complex adaptive dredging project during implementation. The framework structure helps to improve on the overall project transparency and in turn leads to more involvement of the parties and society.  

BwN interest

Most execution techniques, support systems and monitoring approaches for dredging operations include process control and adjustments, and primarily focus on compliance. Based on fixed knowledge they need clear thresholds to function. Even so, there is a severe lack of timely cause-effect knowledge. The Guide provides rules for a new applicable, structured and truly adaptive approach for the execution of dredging works in the face of uncertainty, with an aim to reducing this uncertainty over time via system monitoring.  

The Guide is applicable for projects that take place in complex, dynamic and low resilient systems, where:

  • Clients and financers are changing, issuing more restrictions;
  • Unclear environmental impacts (and restrictions) exist ;
  • A growing engagement of non-dredgers is concerned about environmental aspects. 

As such, the Guide helps to move away from a closed and defensive approach to an open and offensive approach where clients and executors optimise the system’s potential and simultaneously close the gap to what we know and what we should know. Furthermore, if we collect, develop, steward and retain this new knowledge needed to dredge with lower impact to nature, the Dutch water sector strengthens their image and market position.