Trialled successfully in 2012, the new method of suction dredging removes built up sediment by using a 22-tonne waterborne ‘hoover' to suck it up through a floating pipeline. Compared to other methods of dredging, it allows more control over where the sediment is dispersed and limits the amount of water transfer necessary.
Dredging is essential to keep the docks accessible to vessels with deeper draughts, including many visiting Gloucester's Tall Ships festival, which returns to the city in May. Many of the larger ships will need a minimum depth of four metres to navigate the docks safely.
Paul Fox, project manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We're aware of how important dredging is to the success of the Tall Ships festival, local businesses and people who use the docks. It's great to bring back a suction dredger after our successful trial in 2012.
"It really is just a super strength hoover, but it means we can dredge more efficiently, and we hope by doing the work now we can keep temporary disruptions to a minimum.”
While the work is going on, boaters are requested to contact Gloucester Lock on 01452 310832 a day in advance to book passage.
The project, which will cost around £150,000, is expected to take three weeks to complete, and is part of a national dredging strategy that commits £80 million over a ten year period to keeping the country's waterways navigable and open to boats.