Heavy rains in the state of Veracruz, Mexico between September and October of 2010 led to the overflow of the Jamapa and Cotaxtla rivers. This caused flooding and major damage in the surrounding urban areas, particularly in the municipalities of Medellin and Boca del Rio, south of the city of Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico. Facing this situation, the National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA) decided to execute an emergency project for the purpose of cleaning, de-silting and preventing further flooding in those rivers. For this project, which included works in more than 12kms along both rivers, CONAGUA contracted separately several experienced dredging companies.
The project required a total of eight cutter suction dredges. All the dredges were manufactured by Ellicott Dredges and included:
- Four (4) dredges model 670, with 14” pump and 800 HP of total installed power
- Three (3) dredges model 370, with 12” pump and 440 HP of total installed power
- One (1) dredge model 460SL, with 12” pump, 440 HP of total installed power and “swinging ladder” system.
This was a critical project for multiple reasons as it forced the dredge operators to deal with a number of challenges. The first one was the urgency of the job, in order to prevent another flooding event. It was critical to work with experienced contractors utilizing powerful and efficient dredges. The Jamapa and Cotaxtla rivers have strong currents, which made the dredging operation more difficult and required the use of sturdy equipment. In addition to that, both rivers had considerable amounts of trash and debris, which had to be removed as well. Another challenging aspect of the project had to do with the access to the rivers, which made it very difficult to transport and put the dredges in place.
The dredging was performed following the channel requirements determined by CONAGUA, dredging to depths of up to 5m. The dredging was performed following environmental regulations by the Mexican Environmental Agency (SERMANAT). The dredged material consisted of sand, gravel and clay. This material was placed in designated areas to be utilized later on for various purposes.
In spite of the difficulties, the project’s objectives were successfully met. In 10 months, the dredges removed an approximate total of 2 million cubic meters of silted material from the rivers and created the specified channel. The project’s results have been very positive; a proof of this is that to date, no other flooding events have occurred in this area.
The fact that Ellicott made all the dredges used for this project is no coincidence. With more than 125 years in the industry, Ellicott is the leader in design and fabrication of cutter suction dredges. Ellicott dredges are known for having the highest quality and being the most powerful and durable. Ellicott maintains a permanent stock for most of its dredge models – something that is critical when it comes to emergency projects like this one. In addition, Ellicott maintains a strong presence in the Mexican market through its local representative Makisur S.A., with local field service and spare parts availability.