How Dredging Can Benefit Your Waterfront Property

Credit: BDI Marine Contractors


The joy of owning waterfront property will continue for years to come. Your future generations can enjoy the same view and recreational activities on the water that you enjoyed during your time in the home. Your property will retain its value and continue to grow over time. Provided, of course, the water is properly maintained. Lakes that turn to swamps, rivers that dry up, and beaches that erode cause drastic reductions in the property value of waterfront homes. They also disrupt the natural environment and habitat, starting a downward spiral of events affecting future generations. One of the best tools for restoring and maintaining clean, safe water is by having it professionally dredged. It’s not a quick solution, nor one that should be decided without weighing all of the factors involved. 


Here is what you need to know about dredging, including the when, why, and how to complete the process safely.


What is dredging?


The natural state of water is to be in movement, which causes any materials in the water to be in movement, too. Dying plants, animals, dirt from the shore, fertilizer runoff, and a host of other debris settle at the bottom of the water. Because of the natural movement of water, there will be areas where it will tend to build up. Eventually, the water level will decrease, and boats will be unable to pass through areas where sand and debris are piled up. Dredging alleviates these areas and re-deposits them where it is beneficial. It’s a necessary routine to sustain the health of waterways and the value of waterfront homes for sale in Annapolis. Dredging can also increase the size of the lake or widen a river. 


How dredging affects your waterfront property 


The sediment that is safe for continued use in the water can be compressed along the shoreline, preventing the shoreline of waterfront homes from eroding. The lack of dredging leaves your property exposed to shoreline erosion. A diminishing shoreline makes it more difficult for you to access the water at your dock. It exposes your home to potential water damage because the natural flow of water off the property has been disrupted. It reduces the amount of usable land you have on your property. Because dredging often affects more than one property owner, the cost of the service is often covered by a mix of waterfront property taxes, neighborhood association dues, and city funds. 


How dredging affects the water


Dredging removes pollutants from the water, which makes the water safer for you to swim in. It also makes the water safer for the plant and animal life in it. Even if you don’t fish, or eat the fish in the water, it’s important for the wildlife in the lake to be healthy. A buildup of decomposed plants and other sediment reduces the oxygen levels in the water. If oxygen is reduced too much, a mass die-off will occur to the animals in the water. Unhealthy wildlife creates a downward spiral for the overall health and usability of the water and a downward turn of property values for waterfront homes for sale in Annapolis. Healthy wildlife sustains a beautiful lake for you to enjoy for years to come. 


When dredging is needed


If the water is starting to look less clear, or if there are areas in the water that are cloudy and murky, it’s time to dredge. The clarity of the water has a direct effect on the property value of waterfront homes. The University of Maine conducted a study proving a one-meter drop in water clarity caused property values of the connected waterfront to drop by 10-15%. The first areas to show problems will be coves or the head of the lake. The water depth will lessen in these areas before water quality deteriorates. The first sign of a change in water quality will appear after rain or high winds. The water will take longer to clear and may take on a murky brown color. Begin the process of dredging at the first sign of trouble so it can be fixed before irreversible damage is done to the wildlife and shoreline.



How is dredging done?


Draining the lake often has the greatest environmental impact because it allows for total cleaning of the lake basin and a reset for the entire shoreline. It’s not a quick option, though. It can take several months for the lake water to fill back up—and that is after months of working on the lake. You could easily lose an entire season on the water when you drain the lake. When there is just a cove or two that needs dredging, it can be done from the shore without draining the lake. This option is also used if sediment from the shoreline is the primary cause of buildup in the water. The work requires heavy equipment so the land around the area of work will need to be restored after dredging is completed. The least expensive option for dredging is to build a settling basin. This provides an area for solids in the water to drop before they are carried out to other areas in the water. When looking at waterfront homes for sale in Annapolis, be sure to ask if dredging is scheduled soon and if so, find out how it will affect your property.


Regulated process


There are several national and local laws revolving around the process of dredging, so it must be completed by licensed and certified companies. Dozens of permits need to be obtained before a dredging project commences. Large projects require an Environment Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement to be completed. Currently, there is a Neighborhood Channel Dredging Project underway in Virginia Beach, which will restore deep water access from the beach. The dredging is done in 2017 to the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Virginia removed 360,000 cubic yards of creosote-contaminated sediment. When creosote enters the human body through ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation it can cause nausea, vomiting, skin lesions, and blisters. It can also cause serious health problems such as cancer or diabetes. 


What to consider when purchasing waterfront property


Owning waterfront property comes with a list of different requirements and needs that may seem overwhelming if this is your first waterfront purchase. Working with a local real estate agent who has experience with waterfront homes will help you navigate and understand the different requirements so you can make an informed decision. Being properly educated and prepared for waterfront real estate ownership will ensure you are able to enjoy your home without the stress of unhappy surprises. Every time you watch the sunrise and sunset over the water, every time you see the joy in the faces of your friends and loved ones as they play on the water, you will be reminded that it is all worth it.


Patrick DeLeonibus’ team of realtors has extensive experience helping people reach their dream of owning waterfront property. They are happy to answer any questions you have and help you prepare to own your piece of waterfront property.





The Waterfront Group was a natural decision to form. This blended the waterfront lifestyle that Patrick lives to the marketing knowledge and experience he has gained in the industry. The Waterfront Group now serves those looking to buy or sell waterfront across the region with a trusted advisor and marketing expert.