frequently asked questions

The method of agitating in-situ materials in the water column, typically with a cutterhead, and then a centrifugal pump will send the materials through a closed pipeline to an upland discharge

An auger dredge uses an Archimedean screw cutterhead to slurry the material and convey it to the centrifugal pump vortex for transport through the pipeline. Auger dredges create an even bottom profile in the waterway and are known for creating significantly lower turbidity than open basket cutterheads since they are enclosed on the top and sides with a steel shroud that creates a vacuum effect.

An auger dredge consists of the horizontal auger cutterhead, slurry pump, diesel engine or electric motor, the controls (onboard cab, radio remote, or shore panel), hull / flotation, and the dredge ladder that supports the horizontal auger head and controls cutting depth.

Mud Cat’s only use ladder mounted pumps as they use less energy to transport the dredged material, are typically easier to operate, and they create 5% plus more solids than hull mounted dredges.

The first auger dredge was created by Norbert Degelman and Harold Morgan in Minnesota in 1962. The manufacturing of Mud Cat units started in 1971 by National Car Rental who purchased Mud Cat in 1970. Today there are well over 1,000 Mud Cat diesel and electric powered dredges operating around the world in over 80+ countries. When people say they need an auger dredge they just say they need a “Mud Cat”.

Mud Cat is one of three dredge and dewatering brands owned by Ellicott Dredge Technologies, LLC. The other brands include the IMS Versi-Dredge www.imsdredge.com and GeoPool Dewatering www.geopooldewatering.com. Ellicott Dredge Technologies is wholly owned by Markel www.markel.com a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MKL).

Auger dredges are used in a wide variety of applications including, but not limited to: papermill lagoons, mine tailings ponds, hog lagoons, poultry lagoons, shrimp farms, fish farms, wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, sand pits, wash plant ponds, sea water intakes, marinas, lakes, stormwater ponds, canals, salt brine ponds, and many more

Auger dredges have many benefits over other types of dredges including:

  • Auger dredges are one truck transportable when fully assembled.
  • Auger dredges have the lowest turbidity of any other dredge method on the market.
  • Auger dredges are lower cost than larger cutter suction dredges even with the same production and depth capability as they require fewer mechanical systems to operate and less raw material to produce.
  • Auger dredges create an even bottom profile and don’t leave larger craters or irregular arc cuts like other dredges. It is much easier to track your cuts with an auger dredge.
  • Auger dredges can be fitted with inexpensive cutterhead wheels to protect cement and polyethylene liners in industrial ponds, municipal ponds, and stormwater canal systems.
  • Auger dredges produce solids in the 20-30% range by volume and 40-53% by weight on a consistent basis vs. basket type cutter dredges which typically vary from 10-20%.
  • Mud Cat auger dredges can all be radio remote controlled even the diesel models which allows the units to operate in hazardous environments like high H2S environments.

Once we know the answers to the following questions, we can determine the most appropriate dredge model for your project:

  • What are the dimensions of the dredging zone (length and width)?
  • What is the current depth?
  • What is the desired depth after dredging?
  • What material(s) are you dredging?
  • Is the material sedimentary and loose or is it compact and hard to excavate?
  • What is the maximum pumping distance to the discharge area?
  • What is the elevation from water level to discharge area?
  • Is there a target flow requirement?
  • What is the pH of the environment if not neutral?
  • Are there any water conditions or wind conditions we should be aware of?
  • Is there any debris or vegetation in the dredging zone?

No assembly is required other than hooking up the discharge line to the back of the dredge and setting up the travel cable and shore anchors for the traverse system. All Mud Cat E-Series (electric) and D-Series (diesel) come fully assemble from the factory and are one truck transportable.

Yes, training is included with every dredge purchase. Training is essential for proper start-up and operation of the dredge and is critical to make sure the operator and other workers on sight can safely operate the machinery.
Yes, the factory is certified by Burau Veritas. The certificate is available to buyers upon request. ISO standards are important to a company to help maintain manufacturing quality, safety, and credibility in the global market.

Yes, Mud Cat rents and has lease / purchase options as well that allow for a percentage of on
time lease payments to be applied towards purchase. It is a great option to try before you buy.
These programs are available in the United States and Canada. Click here for more details:

Yes, Mud Cat dredges have optional onboard flow meters and density meters and shore-based solids analyzers that totalize production, and all are available on both D-Series and E-Series dredges.
Unless you are an existing dredge contractor that owns several Mud Cat dredges then you may not know what to stay away from when buying a dredge. Here is a quick list of red flags and things to stay clear of when buying a dredge:

Lack of Experience: When you go to their website does the supplier show galleries full of pictures from around the world showcasing their experience in various applications? If you get to a website and they show stock photos of applications or only a couple photos, then that is their resume. Do you want to spend money on a dredge that has limited experience or buy from the leading supplier of auger dredges in the world?

3D Engineering Drawings: If you get to a website and the supplier is showing concept drawings for several of their models or only one picture then stay away. You will be the guinea pig in place of their research and development. This can cost you your project if the system has glitches to work out. There are several newer suppliers in the industry that use 3D drawings to bait customers into thinking they have experience. This can be a costly mistake.

Call the Manufacturer: Find out what the prices are before assuming you can’t afford a new dredge. If you think buying a used dredge to save some money is a good idea, then find out the history of the dredge if it is available. You may find out that certain parts are obsolete, or the pump might not be correct for your application. If they appear smaller in size, then it might be assumed that they have better prices. That is incorrect. Mud Cat has multiple competitors who appear to be smaller, but they are not less expensive, and they don’t have value added technology that Mud Cat does.

Used Dredges: If you are looking at a used dredge then consider your experience with refurbishing equipment. If you buy a hydraulic dredge which has a lot of hydraulic components then at least look at replacement costs for hydraulic pumps, motors, hoses, gear boxes etc. and find out if you are really saving money by purchasing used. Also, look at the condition of the dredge hull, cutterhead, pump and the electronics. Cost savings can be wiped out real fast with a used dredge.

References: Can the supplier provide good references in a timely manner?

Factory & Location: Ask for photos of their factory. See the conditions your potential dredge is being built in. Mud Cat for example has hydraulic and electrical rooms that are separated from the manufacturing floor to control impurities from getting in the system. How far are they from a major airport? Can you afford an extra day if they must spend a whole day getting parts to a major hub?

Employees: Find out how long their sales solution team has been in the business. Mud Cat sales solutions team members all have 20-35+ years in dredge industry experience.

Cut Pattern: Pay attention to gimmicks about dropping a pump into material and getting very high solids. How does the pump cut material and what does the bottom profile of the water body look like? Would you drop your lawn mower from a tree or vacuum your rug by raising and lowering a vacuum hose? It makes little sense when you look at post dredging surveys and instead of seeing a flat bottom profile like you would with an auger dredge you see craters all over with high variance of depth instead of uniformity. Do you want to re-dredge several areas? Mud Cat provides a complete system with a cutter, pump, flotation, ladder (not just a cable with a pump dangling at the end with hoses, cables, and wires all over the place.)


Mud Cat used to foam fill their floats but stopped after feedback from customers. If moisture gets inside the hull between the steel and foam, then it accelerates the corrosion process dramatically as the moisture is now trapped and there is no way to clear it from the hull. Some of Mud Cat’s competitor’s foam fill their floats and say it is for “safety”, but it is really to cut costs as cheaper thin gauge steel is used and then they don’t need to weld in steel bulkheads and internal stiffeners for rigidity. When the corrosion process advances enough to the point where major hull repairs are required, the hull must be completely torched off and replaced. This is not good for the environment or workers as the fumes are highly toxic. This is why it is best practice to not foam fill a hull…even if it saves money up front as later it will cost you a lot more in maintenance. Both closed and open cell foam cause the issues described above, but open cell foam will accelerate the corrosion process once water enters the hull.
Yes, you can absolutely add a Mud Cat light weight belly bucket radio remote control to any brand-new Mud Cat 115D, 225D, 275D, or 275DSP. The cost is under US$10,000 and that will get you an industrial grade remote control with 1,000 ft. (305m) operating distance, digital depth gauge, and some additional features.
The patented Pump Defender technology is a removable screen that comes standard on all Mud Cat D-Series models. The Pump Defender is positioned behind the dredge cutterhead and has a concave shape that matches the profile of the cutter. After each revolution of the cutterhead it clears off the screen to prevent suction loss in debris rich environments. It can be a game change in lakes, canals, and other areas where aquatic debris is found. There is one case where a competitor’s dredge was returned to their factory because the Pump Defender would solve the customer’s problem of multiple shutdowns per hour. Every time you need to shut your dredge down you need to flush out your pipeline, so it does not clog. Without the Pump Defender you can reduce your productivity significantly. The Pump Defender has proven to reduce downtime in debris rich environments by up to 80%. If you don’t want the Pump Defender because there is no debris in your pond, then it can be removed with simple hand tools.
The patented WeedMaster cutterhead is available on all Mud Cat D-Series models (2024 and beyond) and can be installed in place of the standard dredge cutterhead to convert the dredge into a hydraulic weed harvester. The WeedMaster will cut hyacinths, reeds, cattails, milfoil, hydrilla, sargassum and other aquatic vegetation and pump the chopped pieces to the discharge area through a closed pipeline. No other dredge in the world has this capability. The WeedMaster eliminates the need for a conveyor harvester or for mechanical rakes to come in before hydraulic dredging takes place. The WeedMaster makes all Mud Cat D-Series units’ dual function hydraulic dredges. Since the vegetation is mulched it quickly dries out in a fraction of the space and is significantly less expensive to haul away.
  • Mud Cat is the original auger dredge and continues to dominate the diesel-powered auger dredge market through continuous innovation.
  • Mud Cat diesel auger dredges have more options for versatility including the patented WeedMaster cutterhead which converts the dredge to hydraulic weed harvester that can cut and pump aquatic vegetation to shore via the discharge line.
  • Mud Cat diesel auger dredges have the patented Pump Defender as standard equipment which allows for continuous pumping with up to 80% less downtime in debris rich environments.
  • Mud Cat diesel auger dredges use heavy duty 10-gauge steel for their hulls and 12- gauge internal bulkheads and stiffeners for rigidity and durability. Mud Cat never uses foam filled hulls which can accelerate the corrosion process and lead to a costly
    replacement of the dredge hull.
  • All Mud Cat diesel auger dredges can be converted to a remote-controlled dredge for use in high H2S environments for less than US$10,000. This is only available on units purchased direct from the factory.
  • Mud Cat diesel auger dredges are all manufactured with purpose-built cabs meaning we don’t purchase our cabs that were built for another applications or industry. All Mud Cat diesel auger dredges use steel cabs with easy to operate fingertip controls and 7–10- inch IQAN screens for quick trouble shooting using error codes. The cabs are climate controlled and include standard amenities for operator comfort.
  • Mud Cat dredges are the best value for the money and continue to have the best price point in the U.S. dredging industry for depth, pump performance, and durability. Customers are surprised that Mud Cat, the leader, is not always the most expensive.
    We order larger quantities from our vendors and pass the savings on to our customers.
  • Mud Cat keeps most parts in stock and available for immediate shipment.
  • The Mud Cat 225D and 275D both have anti-corrosion packages as standard equipment which allows for longer service life over the competition.


Standard Automation Includes:

Radio Sense TM : In industrial grade remote control with display screen that allows forcontrolling the dredge up to 1,000 ft. (305m) away line of sight. It also has a depth gauge standard and plug-ins for additional optional automation features.

Auto Sense TM : Auto sense allows the operator to run the dredge on automatic for the cut until it reaches the target stop and the limit switch tells the dredge to stop, back-up to the starting point, and wait for the operator’s next command.

Optional Automation includes: Lateral Sense TM : Uses a shore panel to control the lateral movement of the dredge eliminating the need to manually reposition anchors and the cabling system. I-beams on the North and South shores allow Mud Cat’s pully system to move the dredge over to the next cut and follow the programming of the shore panel.

Solids Sense TM : Allows the dredge operator to set the desired slurry density and the dredge will then speed up or slow down to achieve the set point. Solids Sense is available on the Radio Sense system as well as on the Shore Panel.

Bottom Sense TM : Automatically raises the auger cutterhead if it contacts hard bottom for an additional layer of liner protection.

Shore Panel: A shore panel can be added to the shore to house all optional automation features and tie them together with the lateral rail system to have an automated dredging system. This is ideal for ponds at municipal, industrial and mining facilities that need routine maintenance to stay in operation. The capital expenditure is slightly higher, but the annual operational savings can be in the hundreds of thousands a year. Shore panels can be installed outside or inside facilities.

Learn more about Mud Cat’s other automation features here: HOW TO AUTOMATE YOUR WASTEWATER LAGOON MAINTENANCE DREDGING

Yes, Mud Cat is the leader for custom auger cutterhead dredges and has created more electric
auger dredges than all other suppliers combined. Mud Cat can build custom electric dredges
taking the following requirements into consideration:

  • Dredging depth
  • pH and environment
  • Automation level
  • Pumping distance and elevation
  • Pump performance (gpm and head pressure)
  • Coatings
  • Mud Cat electric remote control dredges cut an even bottom profile and the cut pattern is parallel rows meaning there is no re-dredging unlike hanging pump dredges which must raise and lower their pump systems and the craters create an uneven bottom that requires re-dredging.
  • Mud Cat electric remote control dredges cut along the length of the travel cable without needing to lft the cutter and pump out of the cut meaning the solids are constant as the dredge moves across the travel area. Hanging pump dredges may get a higher
    percentage of solids momentarily, but then you completely raise the pump out of the material and need to reposition and then drop the pump down into the material again. If you are pumping sand and your solids are too high, then you can also clog your line. It is more important to have a consistent slurry instead of a sporadic slurry that goes from 0% to 60%. Having a more consistent slurry is more effective for dewatering processes as well.
  • All Mud Cat electric remote controlled electric dredges have a VFD (variable frequency drive) as standard equipment which allows the dredge pump to speed up or slow down giving the operator superior control of productivity.
  • Mud Cat E-Series units only use heavy duty steel pontoons and never use HDPE hulls or side pontoons as they can crack with UV exposure over time. Mud Cat has replaced many dredges from competitors that have cracked due to heavy UV exposure. The
    plastic hulls are typically HDPE pipe with a welded cap at the end or prefabricated dock floats. Think twice before relying on cheap plastic hulls to keep your dredge equipment
    floating, safe and operational. Remember, buy it once and buy it right.
  • Mud Cat uses a heavy-duty radio remote control with HMI that comes standard with a digital depth gauge. It is tougher and more reliable than a tablet controller and much easier to operate for all skill levels.
  • Mud Cat electric remote controlled electric dredges use direct hydraulic drive on the pumps instead of using a submerged drive shaft. The reason Mud Cat does not use drive shaft is that it can warp and tends to be less reliable and require more