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APRIL 8, 2019

River Boring Activities Expected to Begin Soon

RiverRenew will be collecting soil samples in the Potomac River over the next several weeks.

Look for our barge on the Potomac River over the next several weeks.

RiverRenew will be collecting soil samples from the Potomac River beginning the week of April 8, 2019. Just like our soil boring activities conducted on land, this data will be used to better understand the conditions below ground to design and build solutions that are best suited to our local geology. When we’re done collecting samples, we'll follow standard industry practice to backfill the holes.

River boring activities will be conducted on a flat-decked boat called a spud barge. The spud barge provides a level and stable surface so that standard boring operations can be performed in the bed of the river. The name "spud barge" comes from the several steel "spuds" at the corners of the barge. These spuds are about 10 inches in diameter and will rest on the river bottom to prevent movement during drilling.


Please contact the RiverRenew Communications and Outreach Team at or 703-518-6030.

More Boring Details

What, exactly, is a boring?

A boring is essentially a small, deep hole in the ground – about the diameter of a softball. We’ll conduct borings to collect two types of soil samples:

Split-spoon and tube samples: Think of a hollow straw being pushed into piece of cake.

What will I see?

You may see a drill rig, supporting equipment and a three-or four-person team on a spud barge in the Potomac River. Additional support vessels that you may see include:

  • A second barge
  • A 21-foot Carolina Skiff, and
  • A 20-foot push boat to transport the workers to and from the barge at the beginning and end of each working day.

Can I watch?

Of course! But please keep a safe distance from all equipment/workers and be mindful of your surroundings.

Will it be noisy?

Kind of. Think of a DASH bus idling and pulling away from a stop. You may also hear the sound of a hammer striking metal as the sampler is being driven into the ground. Please note that we’ll only be working during the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Will it smell?

Likely not. Soils pulled from the ground will pretty much smell like dirt.

When will it happen?

We’ll be drilling on weekdays between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. beginning the week of April 8, 2019.

Is it safe?

Yes. River borings are common for these kinds of projects, and our crews are trained to perform this type of work in these kinds of environments.

Illustration of a typical river boring setup (not to scale)
Illustration of a typical river boring setup (not to scale)
Analyzing a split-spoon sample
Analyzing a split-spoon sample