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PlumeGuard: Monitoring our impact

PlumeGuard: Monitoring our impact

Our Footprint

As an international dredging company, Van Oord is closely involved in providing practical solutions for sustainable development challenges. The PlumeGuard, developed by Van Oord’s engineering department, is the most advanced system currently available for turbidity and sediment spill measurement. This tool makes it easy to implement an adaptive management system based on measured and validated environmental and ecological impact. 


During dredging, fine sediment is released into the water column, which in turn can form plumes that influence turbidity and sedimentation, sometimes over considerable distances. Corals, sea grasses, mangroves, and other sensitive receptors may be influenced by such changes in turbidity and sedimentation. To limit the potential environmental impact, dredging contractors are increasingly confronted with thresholds for turbidity and suspended sediment levels. Adaptive management is the most advanced approach to managing and controlling this impact and to assure compliance with the set requirements. Van Oord’s PlumeGuard system is specifically designed to provide a reliable evidence base for linking dredging and non-dredging-related activities to the sources of suspended sediment in the environment.  


Reliable measurement tools

The core of the PlumeGuard is a standardised measurement frame that can be equipped with a variety of water quality sensors. Van Oord has specifically designed this to be able to combine available measurement techniques. Such as two Acoustic Current Doppler Profilers (ADCP), which jointly take profile measurements of both current velocity and suspended sediment concentration. By having this standard frame setup, the PlumeGuard’s measurement and data quality is independent of the location or vessel from which it is deployed, allowing a standardised and partly automated data interpretation. It is fully integrated with Van Oord’s survey systems and the OpenEarth data management approach. In this way the actual situation outside can be compared in near-real time with model assumptions and requirements, thus enabling adaptive management of dredging projects. This in turn allows Van Oord to apply economically and ecologically sensible management of potential impacts of dredge plumes, limiting our footprint.

Related U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

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