Louisiana dredging firm could help rebuild coast, but nobody's asking

Workers demonstrate the Moray, due to be shipped to New York state Thursday
Workers demonstrate the Moray, due to be shipped to New York state Thursday

Reserve, LA-- In a manufacturing yard just off Airline Highway, Bob Wetta shows off his company's latest creation, a dredge called the "Moray" destined for duty at an environmental in Syracuse, New York.

"We're the world's leader in portable dredges," said Wetta, President of the Reserve-based DSC.

Wetta's family founded DSC, Dredging Supply Company, in 1994.

Each year, the firm with annual sales approaching $40 million, builds and ships a couple dozen dredges to buyers around the world.

Some are relatively small machines, like the one being shipped Thursday to Syracuse, but others stretch the length of a football field.

Buyers most often include mining companies, ports keeping harbors open to navigation, or contractors involved in environmental work.

The DSC customer base is split about 50-50 between domestic and international customers.

Coastal advocate regularly talk of rebuilding Louisiana's marshes and swamps, to restore valuable ecosystem and natural hurricane defenses.

That would include fresh water river diversions to reconnect the Mississippi with the surrounding waters, but that toolbox also would require greater use of dredges, to carve silt and mud from water bottoms and pump it onto new shorelines.

Despite that, Wetta said he has had exactly one local government official show up at his door over the years to enquire about dredging machines.  Plaquemines Parish has considered the possibility of buying its own dredge to mine sediment and rebuild islands in the rapidly disappearing delta.

"We've got world class designing teams," Wetta said.  "We've got a problem that needs to be solved.  I just think it's a perfect match.

Of course, public bid laws would require DSC to compete for any government contracts, but Wetta echoes the frustrations of coastal managers about the time it takes to bring coastal projects from the drawing board to fruition.

"We have plans put in place now," Wetta said.  "So, why don't we have a project going?"