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DCA LogoAbout
The Dredging Contractors
of America

The Dredging Contractors of America, formerly the National Association of Dredging Contractors (NADC), is a non-profit trade association that has represented the interests of the U.S. dredging and marine construction industry and its members for over thirty years. The present membership includes ten large companies, fourteen small companies and three associate members that operate on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, the Great Lakes, the inland rivers, and in Hawaii and Alaska.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the Federal agency responsible for the majority of dredging activities in the United States, controlling the permitting process for all projects, as well as planning and design, feasibility analysis, policy, funding and contract administration. The Corps is the industry’s primary customer.  Its actions determine the scope, shape and health of the U.S. dredging industry. Changes in the Corps’ water resources policy, environ-mental restrictions, procurement pro-cedures, funding and legislation impact the viability and profitability of U.S. dredging contractors. Proactive planning is required to assure that the industry is able to meet all the Corps’ dredging needs but also to counteract actions or trends that would have a negative effect on the market.  

The Corps’ contracting policy affords equal opportunity and equal access to information for all contractors. Accordingly, it is difficult for individual contractors to bring policy issues of importance to the Corps in a way that can affect change. The DCA’s chief role, therefore, is to be the instrument by which dredging contractors may have an effective dialogue with their major client. The resulting collective voice provides weight to the issues that affect the industry in general and helps to affect changes that would simply be impossible for individual companies to achieve. 

The DCA has been at the forefront of efforts that include establishment of formal partnering at the highest levels of the Corps and other government entities on issues such as over-depth dredging, emergency response, funding, contractual policy issues, project estimating, and the environment. The DCA has earned the respect of the Corps and other maritime groups for its ability to bring a broad base of industry decision-makers to the table for open and frank discussions of policy issues important to all stakeholders. 

The DCA also serves as a resource of dredging expertise for other maritime industry groups, both in Washington and elsewhere around the country. These groups frequently consult the DCA and its members on mutually important issues, while at other times DCA members are requested to provide input on technical and commercial issues that affect their projects.

The DCA is a member of several organizations and works hand-in-hand with such groups as the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA), the National Waterways Conference (NWC), the Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF), and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). Serving on the board of the ASBPA, the DCA is able to remain informed of and influence shore protection issues, as well as provide industry the opportunity to corroborate with local, state, Federal, and private stakeholders. 

The DCA attends and monitors relevant conferences and provides frequent updates to its members on matters of concern to the dredging industry. It also cosponsors several scheduled meetings during the year, including the National Dredging Meeting and the Industry/Corps Hopper Dredge Management Group (ICHMDG) Meetings, and provides input to develop agendas and speakers for these meetings. The association’s annual Congressional Recep-tion on Capitol Hill consistently attracts an impressive list of attendees, including Members of Congress, their staffs, and high-level executives of the Corps of Engineers. At the reception, the DCA presents the William R. Murden Award to an outstanding Corps of Engineers employee who has made significant contributions to the trade. 

Every spring the DCA conducts an annual conference where members can engage in social events and activities with each other and their spouses. The agenda includes meetings of the Association’s subcommittees, as well as their reports to the general membership in a formal meeting. The highlight of the meeting is a presentation by a prominent guest speaker (or speakers) from the Corps whose discussions provide important information and offer DCA members input on strategic issues affecting the dredging industry. The give-and-take opportunities afforded DCA members and these officials prove invaluable in creating mutual under-standing. 

The DCA assists in lobbying Congress on industry issues, the most important of which is authorization and funding for projects. DCA staff works closely with congressional and Corps staff to understand how budget decisions will affect the market, and disseminate that information to association members. Staffers make clear the implications of budget cuts to government decision-makers familiar with the industry. 

If approved by its Board of Directors, the DCA may choose to tackle an issue (such as project funding) on behalf of the general membership. These issues are typically handled by separate subcommittees. If an issue affects only a part of the membership, then a Special Project Group may be formed, the costs of which will be borne by the impacted members. 

In summary, the Dredging Contractors of America provides a full range of association services to its members in order to improve the quality of dredging and to ensure that our Nation’s ports, waterways, wetlands, beaches and barrier islands are efficiently constructed and maintained for the needs of today and the expectations of tomorrow.

Why Dredging Is Important
for America

Dredging Saves BeachesBeaches are America's favorite vacation play-ground. They are also a preferred destination for tourists from around the world, contributing to the country's $26 billion trade surplus in tourism. With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population within an hour's drive of the seashore, beaches represent one of our nation's most important economic and natural resources. In developed beachfront communities, this resource often requires physical maintenance or beach nourishment.

Beaches are in a constant state of flux. Erosion caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, other natural processes, and haphazard development has brought about vast economic and human tragedy. Periodic nourishment has proven to be the most effective remedy for preserving our protective beach systems. In Ocean City, Maryland, a 1992 beach replenishment project paid for itself more than three times over by preventing at least $180 million in property damage in just three years.

The Dredging Industry helps to save shorelines around the world, in conjunction with State and Local governments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies, to plan beach replenishment projects.

Dredging restores natural barriers that protect shoreline property from disappearing into the ocean.

Dredging saves and restores wetlandsWetlands and marshes are an important and fragile part of the coastal environment. Forty per-cent of our nation's wetlands are found in Louisiana, constituting one of the world's most productive ecosystems. Unfortunately, we are losing wetlands so fast that a slice of Louisiana the size of the District of Columbia vanishes each year. Over the last 50 years, Louisiana's loss is responsible for 80 percent of wetland loss in the United States.

With the help of legislation similar to the landmark Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act of 1990, many states are fighting to save these precious resources. The dredging industry is playing a leading role in many of these environmental restoration projects. A prime example is Bayou La Branch, Louisiana, pictured here, a 1994 marsh restoration project.

As wetlands disappear, so do many wildlife species that are an integral part of our natural heritage. In other parts of the country, such as the Chesapeake Bay, Southern California, Puget Sound and the Texas coast, the restoration of wetland environments is a by product of other, mostly navigation related, dredging projects.

Up and down the U.S. coastline, in every port city, the dredging industry is keeping our nation's trading gateways open for business. Together, these seaports handle 95 percent of America's foreign trade.

Dredging saves ports and industryThe Port of Oakland, one of the largest general cargo ports in the United States, lost market share over the last decade due to navi-gation channels that were unable to handle the world's largest container ships. After many stops and starts, a project to improve the Port's shipping lanes has been brought to fruition. With deeper channels, the Port's expansion generates 4,100 new jobs, $500 million in annual business revenues and $15 million in new state and local taxes. In addition to fulfilling the need for a productive port industry to keep U.S. products competitive, our seaports are responsible for contributing $780 billion to the Gross Domestic Product and for 15 million jobs.

While the primary goal of dredging is to create and maintain safe and efficient navigation channels, the excavated soil is often used for environmentally beneficial purposes, including the creation of fish and wildlife habitats. In most cases, when beach-quality sand is dredged, it is placed either directly on the shore or in the surf zone to be delivered to the shore by natural processes.

Without the nation's inland and coastal waterways, the cost of most products that American businesses and consumers rely on would increase. That's because the towing and barge industry provides the most cost-effective mode of transporting freight. In each of the 41 states served by our inland waterways, maintenance dredging is essential. Without periodic dredging, the cost advantage provided by water transportation would be lost.

Throughout the year, dredging contractors work to ensure the safe and secure transportation of agricultural and forest products and of strategic chemical and energy resources in bulk. As a by-product of dredging, sand is reclaimed for low-cost aggregate and fill material. This aggregate is used to construct and maintain roads, to rebuild levees, or for other public purposes.

Dredging saves America's beaches, waterways, wetlands and ports!

 

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