Ports, Harbors and Marinas

Wisconsin is home to 240 marinas, of which 192 are located in coastal waters and their tributaries.  While marinas contribute many millions of dollars to Wisconsin coastal community economies and provide the public with boating access and facilities, the waters surrounding them can become contaminated with pollutants derived from boating activities.  Chemical runoff from boatyards, dust and paint chips from hull maintenance, drips from fuel docks, sewage, fish waste and litter can all be released into the water. There is a critical need to assist Great Lakes ports, harbors and marina managers and owners with issues identification, educational tools, planning and engineering assistance on all aspects of port, harbor and marina infrastructure maintenance and repair, dredging technology and dredged material disposal, and facility management.

Wisconsin Clean Marina Program

Clean Marina Program Details
The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program provides guidance and education that enable marina and boatyard operators to protect the resources that sustain their livelihood — clean water, clean air, and healthy fish and wildlife communities.  The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program promotes and celebrates voluntary adoption of measures to reduce pollution from marinas, boatyards and recreational boats. Facilities that adopt the program recommended practices may become certified as Wisconsin Clean Marinas. Read more...

Great Lakes Infrastructure

Failing Coastal Wood Infrastructure on the Great Lakes
Aging wood infrastructure on the Great Lakes is on the rise. Explore the reasons why this is happening and what can be done about it.  Read More...

Climate Change Implications and Adaptation Strategies
A changing Wisconsin climate will bring challenges to ports, harbors and marinas. There could be changes in rainfall amounts and storm intensities as well as lake level changes, and wave and water-level erosion. Read more...

Discuss issues with Great Lakes Failing Infrastructure
Many of the Great Lakes coastal communities, ports and harbors are protected from Great Lake storm, wave and ice damage by critical offshore and coastal structural protection. Maintenance of these structures has lagged behind and many structures are now in poor condition. Failure of these structures would be catastrophic for the valuable coastal communities they protect. The harbor structures were constructed with a variety of materials, each with its own failure mechanisms to repair or rehabilitate. Read more...

Harbor Dredging

Finding New Beneficial Use Ideas

Coastal Engineer Gene Clark is working with a new group of investigators on finding additional uses for harbor dredge materials. This video provides further background. 


List of Manufacturers of Portable* Dredges
*Portable means that a dredge does not have to have major disassembly for over-the-road hauling between job sites. 

The list is believed to be reasonably current and inclusive but some firms may have been unintentionally omitted. The firms are listed in alphabetical order and their inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the University of Wisconsin. Please send corrections and additions to: Gene Clark-Coastal Engineering Specialist grclark@seagrant.wisc.edu

Great Lakes Dredging Team Beneficial Use Publication
In March 2013, the Great Lakes Dredging Team released a 12-page document, Beneficial Use of Dredged Material in the Great Lakes. It provides policies, procedures and examples related to beneficial use. Wisconsin Sea Grant's Gene Clark is a co-author. For more information on the beneficial use of dredged material, see the "Beneficial Use of Dredged Material" section below.

Beneficial Use of Dredged Material

The beneficial use of dredged material is the term used for utilizing dredged sediments for resource materials and as productive material not to be wasted.


What is Dredging?

In order to maintain adequate channel depths within our port, harbor and marina channels and slips, accreted sediment is removed by a process known as dredging. Dredging can be used to initially excavate out the channel and/or port water area and also for maintenance as sediment would accumulate in the bottom of the previously excavated channel.


Contaminated Sediment Cleanup
The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Aquatic Sciences Center has a few products to help estimate the cost and performance of sediment remediation projects. These products are tools to help estimate the economic benefits of remediation and to simulate remediation Read more...

Partial List of Great Lakes Dredging Contractors

The following list of contractors is intended to cover the state of Wisconsin, and the other Great Lakes states. The list is believed to be reasonably current and inclusive but some firms may have been unintentionally omitted. The firms are listed in alphabetical order and their inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the University of Wisconsin. Please send corrections and additions to: Gene Clark-Coastal Engineering Specialist grclark@seagrant.wisc.edu.


Dredging Trade Associations/Publications
Please send corrections and additions to: Gene Clark-Coastal Engineering Specialist grclark@seagrant.wisc.edu

Accelerated Freshwater Harbor Corrosion

Duluth/Superior Accelerated Corrosion Studies
Steel sheet piling in the Duluth-Superior Harbor is corroding at an unusually accelerated rate. This rate of corrosion is similar to that commonly observed in saltwater ports but not seen in freshwater environments. In addition, corrosion to this extent has not been documented in other Great Lakes ports and harbors. Based on observations of both older and new sheet pile installations, the increased rate of corrosion appears to have begun in the late 1970s.


Harbor Corrosion Documents
A history of the Duluth-Superior Harbor corrosion research is included in a number of reports, spreadsheets and other peer-reviewed articles. Read more...

Fact Sheet
This succinct provides a good summary of the Duluth-Superior Harbor accelerated harbor corrosion situation. Read more...

Photo Gallery
Research on the corrosion problem has included photographic documentation. Read more...

Economic Impacts of Great Lakes Ports

Wisconsin Great Lakes Ports
The economic punch provided by Wisconsin's Great Lakes ports is significant, generating more than $1.4 billion annually. Read more...


Port and Harbor Infrastructure Outreach and Project Assistance
Sea Grant will continue to provide education, research and outreach concerning the accelerated freshwater corrosion seen in Lake Superior port, harbor and marina structures. This will include hosting the research and outreach steering committee’s website and production of communications products. Varying Great Lakes water levels have increased the deterioration and failure of many timber and concrete structures. There is an increased need for non-advocacy science-based repair and rehabilitation information and Sea Grant is an ideal source for this information.

Harbor Dredging Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Outreach and Project Assistance
The maritime industry relies on adequate water depth in harbors and connecting channels for navigation. Maintaining that depth in areas of natural accumulation of sediments requires periodic dredging. Slightly more than half of the dredged sediment is disposed of in specifically designed confined facilities. Sea Grant and its private sector and governmental partners will work to raise awareness about the value of dredged material as a sustainable resource that can be beneficially used.

Videos and Audio Podcasts

Climate Change Coming to the Coasts of Wisconsin: How It May Affect Coastal Communities and Property Owners - Keillor
August 15th, 2007
Mequon, Wisconsin
Phil Keillor
Coastal Engineering Specialist (Retired), UW-Madison Sea Grant Institute

Revitalizing Local Waterfront Economies
This video outlines the Great Lakes Legacy Act and highlights benefits it brings to communities. Read more...

Coastal Resiliency, Harbor Corrosion and Intelligent Dredging
In less than 17 minutes learn about three important situations--resilience, freshwater corrosion and dredging--for Great Lakes ports, harbors and marinas through an audio podcast featuring Sea Grant's Coastal Engineer Gene Clark. Read more...

The Apostle Islands Sea Caves Safety and the Wave Sensor Project
Working with a UW-Madison civil and environmental engineer, UW Sea Grant installed a wave sensor on the bed of Lake Superior to provide real-time wave conditions to federal park rangers and recreational enthusiasts. Read more...

Gene Clark on Dredge Material and Harbor Infrastructure
Gene Clark, Sea Grant's coastal engineer, outlines two key factors affecting the workings and economics of the ports, harbors and marinas. Read more...

The Sheboygan River: A Little Patience, A Big Payback
In the summer of 2012, the cleanup of the Sheboygan River got underway. The benefits to the community will be enormous--but through 2012, some patience will be required. Crews will be working around the clock to dredge the river, clean up contaminated sediment and restore wildlife habitat. Read more...

Engineering Students Dive into Field Work
Wisconsin Sea Grant Coastal Engineering Specialist Gene Clark describes slope stability, erosion, and other coastal issues as students learn to deploy and operate instruments. Read more...

Clean Boaters: Collect and Dispose of Your Antifreeze
Help protect fish spawning grounds, and keep Wisconsin waters clean! Read more...

A Message from the Director
Dr. Anders Andren, the director of UW Sea Grant, gives an overview of what Sea Grant does. Read more...

Related Publications

Visit Our Publications Store
For print and downloadable publications that relate to harbors, ports and marinas, see the water level/erosion section of our publications store. Read more...

International Dredging Review
P.O. Box 1487
Fort Collins,Colorado 80522
IDR is a bi-monthly trade magazine. An annual dredging directory is published.
Phone: 970-484-9562.
Fax: 970-484-5778
Email: idr@juno.com

Journal of Dredging Engineering
Western Dredging Association (WEDA)
Box 5797
Vancouver, WA 98668-5797
Email: Weda@juno.com  

World Dredging Mining & Construction
PO Box 17479
Irvine, CA  92623-7479
Phone: 949-553-0836
Fax: 949-863-9261
Email: worlddredging@aol.com

Related Websites

Great Lakes Clean Marina Network
The Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan Sea Grant programs have joined forces for a regional clean marina effort that includes an online classroom on best practices, occasional webinars and a clean marina manual. The program is also inspiring clean boating and marina management across the Great Lakes region. Read more...

Wisconsin's Water Library
Established in 1964 by the UW Water Resources Institute, Wisconsin's Water Library (formerly known as the Water Resources Library) is unique among UW-Madison's many libraries for its collection of almost 30,000 volumes of water-related information about the Great Lakes and the waters of Wisconsin. The library includes a curriculum collection, dozens of educational videos, a children's collection, and more than 20 journals and 100 newsletters. Read more...