Reclamation: What Does it Mean to You?

Reclamation: What Does it Mean to You?


Given Caterpillar’s commitment to sustainability, the restoration of natural infrastructure, and my role as the Dredging Industry Steward, I have been thinking about and visiting dredging and reclamation project sites all over the place. However, depending upon who I was talking to or where I was in the world, the vernacular used to describe the work varied considerably. This was especially true with regards to the use of “reclamation.” Although this term has been in use since the 1600s, there doesn’t seem to be a shared understanding of what it is or what it could be. As such, I thought it would be interesting to take a deeper dive into reclamation, beginning with an informal survey to see what the industry has to say.

This is the first of a three part series on what I’ve discovered.

Last month I had the privilege to participate in the Battelle Ninth International Conference on Remediation and Management of Contaminated Sediments in New Orleans and figured this was an excellent audience to poll. Jam-packed with scholars, scientists, engineers, contractors, government agencies, and industry thought leaders – the conference was buzzing with the latest and greatest techniques and technologies for remediation and the cleaning and/or isolation of contaminants in sediment. It was a busy and exciting week and we felt right at home. Thank you Battelle for a job well done!


Here’s a sample of the top ten responses I received. Visit my full post here to see them all.

Put to use cleaned dredged materials in environmentally safe and usable ways – such as shore line restoration.

When done well, land reclamation can serve all three sustainability ideals – environmental, economic and cultural. Great opportunity.

Restoring land, wetlands and rivers that have been degraded over years. 


To me, no matter how we define the word, the results are so much more important than the quantity of earth that is moved. I’m looking forward to sharing a case study with you in my next post of perhaps the finest and most comprehensive example of reclamation I have encountered to date – which is taking place in the city of Rikuzentakata, Japan.

See my full post here and check back for part two of this series – an inspiring story of the reclamation of Rikuzentakata following a natural disaster and what it means for their people, their economy, and their future.

So tell me, what does reclamation mean to you?

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