VICKSBURG, Miss. — The dredging industry has suffered a great loss with the recent death of Timothy L. Welp, a research hydraulic engineer with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).
A member of the Coastal Engineering Branch in the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulic Laboratory, Welp was a leader in the field of dredging and dredged material management. His research projects and technical support reached across the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and beyond, and his activities were supported by programs within the USACE, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Bank, as well as many others in the private sector.
“Tim was a great engineer, mentor and friend to many across USACE,” said Dr. Ty Wamsley, director of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. “He was a giant in the field. The entire dredging industry will miss him greatly.”
The USACE is responsible for maintaining and improving 25,000 miles of inland and coastal waterways and channels, ports, harbors and turning basins throughout the United States. Yet only a few of them are naturally deep, and in most cases, channels must be excavated and then dredged periodically to remain clear and safe for navigation. Dredging and navigation infrastructure supports major portions of the U.S. economy.
Welp was primarily involved in prototype data collection and analyses and research projects investigating dredging and dredged material placement. His research included dredging equipment optimization, environmental impacts of dredging, production estimation and analyses and beneficial uses of dredged material.
“Tim loved being in the field and working on a dredge,” said Dr. Todd Bridges, senior research scientist at ERDC. “His enthusiasm for working on a floating machine as long as a football field always showed in a big way, and that’s one of the reasons why he was so good at what he did and why his work made a difference.”
He was the focus area leader for Dredged Material Management in the Dredging Operations Environmental Research (DOER) program and played a leading role in shaping future research directions and technology development. Welp was also a valued and trusted technical advisor to colleagues across USACE — those colleagues reached out to him through the Dredging Operations Technical Support program, known as DOTS.
One of his more recent research efforts was advancing the use of the aptly named tickler chains, which can be used on dredges to reduce risks to sea turtles. The chains are hung like a curtain from the drag arm of the dredge to stimulate the sea turtles to move off the bottom and away from the dredge.
Welp authored countless publications related to dredging and dredged material management research and development and served as the editor and principal author of two chapters of the Dredging and Dredged Material Management Engineer Manual 1110-2-5025. He was an active member of the Western Dredging Association, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, and the Coasts, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers where he served as committee chair of the waterways committee.
“Being a leader in dredged materials research, Tim had a profound impact on both the profession and on our USACE team,” said Dr. David Pittman, director of the ERDC. “He was generous with his time, mentoring colleagues across ERDC and the Corps of Engineers. Tim was a valued colleague, mentor and good friend to many of us, and he will be sorely missed.”