How to Automate Your Wastewater Lagoon Maintenance Dredging

If your lagoon needs routine maintenance dredging to keep storage capacity, then automating your dredge system might be the most cost effective and efficient way to maintain your lagoons.  Typically, wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, and industrial process ponds are ideal candidates for a fully automated dredging system.  Full automation is more for permanent installations where the lagoons need continuous maintenance.  Contractors for example would typically not invest in full automation since the rail system is permanent.  There is a cost associated with upgrading to automation and adding a lateral movement rail system to the lagoon, but the operational cost savings year over year quickly eclipse the original capital expenditure of the automation package.

Labor is getting very expensive and automating as much of your lagoon maintenance process can provide significant year over year cost savings.  Labor costs are increasing and reducing two anchormen for repositioning anchors on both sides of the lagoon can reduce $100,000+ a year in labor costs.  You still want to have a person monitoring the entire operation, but by automating the lateral movement of the dredge you have created $1,000,000 in savings over the next decade.

Let’s dive right into what Mud Cat has to offer for automating your lagoon maintenance dredging program:

Radio Remote SenseTM [STANDARD]: Radio Remote Sense is standard equipment on all Mud Cat E-Series electric dredges and is also optional on all Mud Cat D-Series diesel dredges.  Radio Remote Sense (RMS) controls all dredge functions through a durable belly bucket wireless transmitter that has effective operating capability of up to 1,000 ft. (305m) line of sight. Current operating functions of the dredge including cutter, travel winch, slurry pump, etc. are easily visible from the standard light tree on the dredge.  The RMS belly bucket can be used in place of full automation if needed. 

Auto SenseTM [STANDARD]: The Auto Sense automation feature is standard equipment on all Mud Cat E-Series dredge system allows the dredge to automatically traverse the width of the pond continuously dredging material until it hits a yellow steel pre-set target stop at the end of the pass.  Once the dredge hits the target stop it stops dredging and reverses at high speed back to the starting point on the other side of the pond which also has a yellow steel pre-set target stop.  The dredge will stop and wait for the next command if manually using the radio remote control called Radio Sense or it will start the next cut automatically and lower the cutter if that is a pre-set program in the Mud Cat shore panel.
Lateral SenseTM [OPTIONAL]:The optional Lateral Sense system is Mud Cat’s proprietary lateral movement technology which incorporates two standard steel I-beams (“rails”) which are permanently installed on the forward and rear shorelines that allows the dredge to slide laterally from one cut to the next using the Lateral Sense trolly system.  It effectively eliminates two full time anchor men which are needed to reset anchor points after 8-9 cuts depending on the width of the cutterhead on the dredge greatly reducing operating costs year over year.

Bottom Sense TM [OPTIONAL]: The optional Bottom Sense technology is designed to offer an added level of bottom liner protection whether your pond is concrete, or polyethylene lined.  It also allows the dredge to automatically raise the auger cutterhead when the bottom is contacted and lower the auger when the bottom material is not present or seek the bottom out if the material is very light sludge.  Additionally, since the Bottom Sense system protects the bottom liner, it will raise and lower the cutter to the contour of the lagoon in case there are changes in the shape of the bottom or if you need to dredge up a slope.

Shore Panel:

The shore panel is house in a NEMA 4 or optional NEMA 4X rated electrical enclosure controls the lateral movement system and automation of the dredge.   It can be installed inside or outside and is built for all weather conditions. The lateral rail system is commonly installed at wastewater treatment plants and water treatment plants that need ongoing lagoon maintenance.  The up-front cost is higher than a 4-point cable drive system, but the long-term cost savings of not having to hire added labor and move anchors on a regular basis is quickly realized and the savings eclipses the original CAPEX investment.

Why Choose Mud Cat: 

Mud Cat started the horizontal auger cutterhead dredge industry in 1971.  More than 1,000 Mud Cat units have been sold worldwide and when people think of auger dredges they typically say, “I need a Mud Cat.”  As time when on, more projects required remote controls to keep operators off of toxic ponds.  Now more and more wastewater and mining operations need to continually remove sediments and byproducts from their lagoons and it makes more sense to automate the process.  Mud Cat has continously been the trailblazer in the dredge automation industry.  Here are key reasons why Mud Cat is the best choice for your automation needs:


Mud Cat has installed automations systems for mine tailings ponds, waste water lagoons, water treatment plants and nutrient reduction facilities.  Mud Cat has the best reputation in the dredge automation industry specifically for cleaning lagoons. 

Liner Projection:

A major benefit of Mud Cat auger dredges is that they use 4-gauge wheels for pressing polyethylene pond liners down during the sediment removal process.  This ensures that the cutterhead will not touch the liner.  Additionally, if the material is very light a cutterhead cage can be added for a secondary layer of protection.  Here are the problems with competitive technologies:

  • Hanging Pump Dredges: The pumps are lowered from an A-frame gantry on a floating barge and the pump can get too close to the liner and its agitators can suck it up and puncture it.  This event has occurred before and it has caused severe environmental issues when toxic materials are then released into the groundwater from the lagoon.  This is why auger dredges with wheels that press down the liner are the preferred methodology for automated dredging systems.
  • Sled Dredges: There are some sled dredges in the industry that are similar to hanging pump dredges, but insteady the pump is lowered with two skis that help keep protect the liner.  The only problem is that the pump can still suck up any section of the liner that is not flat and the steel skis can also puncture the liner.

Even Bottom Profile Cuts:

Mud Cat horizontal auger dredges cut a path in lagoons that is straight and level as the system is programmed to cut in a paralell cut program at pre-programmed depths.  The problem with hanging pump dredges is that the pump is lowered and then it must be raised for the next excavation of material which means that this repostioning is removing the cutter and pump out of the material effectively not producing material.  Additionally, the cut is an inverse cone because you are lowering a pump into material and then raising it up and progressing forward and lowering it again.  The cut pattern is therefore a sequence of inverse cones that require over dredging as the sides are obviously sloped and require inefficient overlapping of cuts.  The horizontal auger dredge will make a cut the entire length of the lagoon and quick move back one time for the next cut and lower the cutter for the next cut or slide over to the next cut.  The result with the auger dredge is as follows:

  • Even bottom profile.
  • Limited overlapping so the project gets done faster.
  • A higher percentage of the lagoon is cleaned during each cycle without any re-dredging.
  • Higher production per hour.
  • Higher efficiency.

Think of it this way, would moving a lawn or vacumming a room using solutions that go up and down make any sense?      .

As Seen On Dredging Today.

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