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Dredging and Manatees

For nearly the last two decades, the Public Works Department of Cape Coral have dredged the storm water canals that run for 400 miles throughout the area. Considered the largest municipal dredging project in the United States, their goal has been to deepen them by removing the layers of decaying material and soil from the canals &emdash; which were drag-lined in the 1950s and then neglected until the 1980s.

Cape Coral Public Works Department workers reported run-ins with all types of marine wildlife including a run in with a hammer head shark that was nearly 15 feet long. The hammer head shark was a reminder of just how cautious they have to be to protect the biological environment of the canal &emdash; which serves as a home to several varieties of aquatic species including snakes, alligators and lizards.

Care is taken by dredgers to protect all of the wildlife in waterways, but extra special care is taken when dealing with Florida's manatees.

Manatees are seal-like aquatic mammals (or "sea cows") that average 9-10 ft. in length and 1,000 lb. in weight, and they are endangered. Manatees are also extremely curious which can cause problems for dredge workers. While dredging, if we encounter a manatee in the area, we immediately shut down and do not continue dredging until the manatee has moved on to another area.

We are not allowed to attempt to scare away manatees or nudge them in away in any manner. As dredgers, we never consider manatees a nuisance &emdash; these water ways are their home. We do whatever it takes including shutting down for a day or two while we wait for the manatees to move on.

Manatees were here long before us and the dredging work we're doing is to help them out. We clean up their home by taking the dead, rotting layer off of the bottom of the canal, allowing more fish and fresh vegetation to populate the area.

Dredging rids the waterway of rotting garbage, soot, sludge, etc. When it is cleaned, it benefits everyone.

At C&M Dredging, we care about providing waterways that benefit both the natural habitat and humans utilizing the water way to their benefit. We take every precaution necessary to assure the safety and environmental friendliness of our practices in all of our dredging projects.

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Featured Project

Hurricane Damage Restoration

Florida Keys


  • Remote Island Location 3 miles from mainland in FL Keys
  • Hydraulic Dredging to Geotextile tubes
  • Automated Polymer Injection System for Material Dewatering and Clean Effluent Requirements
  • Dewatering site constructed on sectional barge at island location
  • Dredging, Dewatering, Hauling and Disposal all simultaneously
  • Geotextile tubes transported by barge back to mainland daily for offloading into trucks
  • Sensitive Marine Benthic Resource avoidance and protection integral part of project requirements


C&M Dredging performed an environmental restoration dredging project to reverse impacts caused by hurricane damage to an island resort in the Florida Keys. A canal system and basin system that was in place for barges and vessels that serviced the island resort daily had been filled in by hurricane-force winds and tidal surge.

The difficulty was that the project site was 3 miles from the mainland, on an island.

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