Tuesday, September 27 – Dredging into Cell 5
Timmy picked me up at the public dock at 8 am, I dropped my gear at the camp and we were at the dredge site by 9:00 am. Since the water level was back up, it was time to put more sediment into Cell 5, so Timmy untied the discharge hose from Cell 4 and we reconnected it to the discharge on the pontoon in Cell 5.
Timmy took salinity readings in the pond, and found it still high (10.8 ppm) following the storm even after the rain we’ve had recently. Immediately after Tropical Storm Lee inundated the marshes, the salinity was measured at 14 ppm where it should have been closer to 4 ppm. The natural hydrology of this area has been disrupted by the major navigation channels (Freshwater Bayou and ICWW) that cut through the natural ridges, and now where the marshes are not managed, tides bring in water which may be saline, instead of fresh rain water flushing the system. The canal was measured fresher (7.2 ppm) than the pond, so the dredge effluent would be beneficial with more than just sediment!
Back at the canal, we used a long cane to feel the bottom and mark where we had last dredged. The dredge was pushed back into position in the middle of the canal and we dropped a spud to hold it in place. By 10:40 am, we were pumping mud. After 30 minutes, Timmy took the flat to the bank so he could make sure the discharge was working. While he was gone, Pete came by working the gator lines on the McIlhenny side of the canal. I had dropped the left cable and motioned to him to come close to the dredge, but he apparently didn’t see and squeezed between the bank and our marker poles.
I kept watching for his return from the far end of the canal, when Timmy came back out from the pond with a thumbs-up. As Pete reached the dredge, I again dropped the cable and waved for him to come on the dredge side, but he powered through the shallow area next to the bank anyway, and his motors caught the cable and pulled it right out of the winch!
This necessitated a trip back to the headquarters to find an allen wrench for the set screw that holds the cable on. We ate a quick lunch, then took both boats back so that Timmy could leave me the flat after the cable was reattached. The pump was started again at 12:20 and I continued pumping until 5:00pm. How much material was moved is questionable since I was obviously overlapping with previously dredged areas. Working under the new canopy was wonderful and dredging went by quickly (maybe because I kept dozing off?).
At the end of the day, I took the canoe back out to view the results of the day. On my way to Cell 5, the low angle of sunlight was glinting off something at the edge of the marsh – one of our storm-stolen paddles was laying up on the edge of the marsh to the SE of the dock! In Cell 5, the 5.5 hours of pumping had resulted in a new subaerial delta and fluid mud.