Dredging is an excavation activity usually carried out underwater, in shallow seas or freshwater areas with the purpose of gathering up bottom sediments and disposing of them at a different location. This technique is often used to keep waterways navigable. It is also used as a way to replenish sand on some public beaches, where sand has been lost because of coastal erosion. Dredging is also used as a technique for fishing for certain species of edible clams and crabs (see fishing dredge).
This process functions like a cutter suction dredger, but the cutting tool is a rotating Archimedean screw set at right angles to the suction pipe. The first widely used auger dredges were designed in the 1980s by Mud Cat Dredges, which was run by National Car Rental, but is now a Division of Ellicott Dredges. In 1996, IMS Dredges introduced a self-propelled version of the auger dredge that allows the system to propel itself without the use of anchors or cables. During the 1980s and 1990s auger dredges were primarily used for sludge removal applications from waste water treatment plants. Today, auger dredges are used for a wider variety of applications including river maintenance and sand mining.
The most common auger dredge on the global market today is the Versi-Dredge. The turbidity shroud on auger dredge systems creates a strong suction vacuum, causing much less turbidity than conical (basket) type cutterheads and so they are preferred for environmental applications. The vacuum created by the shroud and the ability to convey material to the pump faster makes auger dredge systems more productive than similar sized conical (basket) type cutterhead dredges.