Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
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Cover: Mount Morris Dam and Letchworth State Park in New York the morning of Oct. 23, 2019. Fog rolls down the river and over the dam’s spillway as fall foliage fills the gorge.
Photo by Steve Winslow
Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
Commanding General and Chief of Engineers
Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon assumed duties as the 55th chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on Sept. 10, 2020, after most recently serving as the USACE deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations.
Spellmon, a native of Bloomingdale, New Jersey, is a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He holds a Master of Science in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and a Master of Science in national security strategy from the U.S. Army War College.
Spellmon’s command assignments include commanding general of USACE’s Northwestern Division, where he oversaw an annual program of more than $3 billion in civil works, environmental restoration and military construction in 14 states, primarily within the Columbia and Missouri River basins; commanding general of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas; commander, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fort Polk, Louisiana; commander, 317th Engineer Battalion and 3-3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, both as part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Spellmon’s key staff assignments include executive director, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Headquarters, Department of the Army; chief of staff, U.S. Army
BY CHRISTOPHER J. AUGSBURGER
8 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
PHOTO BY CEPA
Q&A Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, commanding general and chief of engineers.
PHOTO BY JAY WOODS, LITTLE ROCK DISTRICT PUBLIC AFFAIRS
“Let me give you an idea of what we’re facing. Between our normal civil works appropriations, emergency supplemental appropriations, the 2021 passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and our normal yet massive military, interagency, and international efforts around the globe, our program responsibility has ballooned to more than $92 billion.”
Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; engineer intelligence officer, Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, Rheindahlen, Germany; and observer-controller, Combat Maneuver Training Center, Hohenfels, Germany.
Spellmon’s operational deployments include Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Operation Iraqi Freedom; and Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Badge.
What is the greatest challenge you see facing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) during the next several years, given the recent increase in funding and authorizations?
Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon: Workload –it’s our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity.
We have embarked on one of the most historic – and perhaps important – missions in our 246-year history. As the United States faces economic and global security challenges at home and around the globe, along with the international instability we’ve witnessed recently, we are uniquely positioned to provide an array of solutions across the civil, military, and research and development fronts.
Let me give you an idea of what we’re facing. Between our normal civil works appropriations, emergency supplemental appropriations, the 2021 passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and our normal yet massive military, interagency, and international efforts around the globe, our program responsibility has ballooned to more than $92 billion.
The challenge with that is we are structured, we are organized, and we are staffed, for what has historically been a $20 billion to $22 billion annual program.
This challenge also poses an opportunity, and we’re taking it. We are transforming
our organization and decision-making processes to safely deliver this historic program while finishing quality projects on time within budget and doing it safely.
To accomplish this, I have laid out four priorities: people, readiness, partnering, and innovation.
And it all starts with people. We have 38,000 professionals stationed in 39 different countries working on projects in 110 countries. The men and women of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Engineer Regiment have served our nation extremely well, and we owe them the best training, the best education, and the best technology so that they can stand up and deliver on their full potential.
I am committed to serving our workforce by providing them with the tools and products they need to succeed every day, and more importantly, to continue to shape a culture of flexibility.
When I speak at engagements, I highlight the USACE mission to deliver vital public and military engineering services, none of which would be possible without a world-class workforce. Without our people, nothing gets done.
Readiness is the second priority. The most important thing we can do for our Army and our nation’s readiness is to deliver on our engineering programs and projects. The facilities we build in support of DOD [the Department of
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 9
Staff Sgt. Patrick Duncan, assigned to Alpha Company, 249th Engineer Battalion, Prime Power, conducts a power assessment at a water lift station in Fort Myers, Florida. Without the assessment and possible generator install, water was not able to get to some residents of the community.
Q&A Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
Defense] and our allies have a deep and lasting impact on national defense, here and abroad. In order to meet that mission, leaders at all levels must be empowered to be open to new ideas and new methodologies, so that we can finish quality projects, on time, within budget, and do it safely.
USACE also has a huge emergency management mission and a foundational part of that is our Readiness Support Center in Mobile, Alabama. They have developed training programs to facilitate a knowledge-sharing culture within our emergency management community to increase both our preparedness for contingency response and our effectiveness in support of the nation.
We have several sets of authorities to respond to emergencies: Public Law 84-99,
Emergency Response to Natural Disasters, the Stafford Act that places us in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and we also work as part of the DOD emergency response team in support to U.S. Northern Command.
Partnerships are my third priority. Engineers are always part of a larger team. Our role is indispensable, but so are the roles of our partners. Our relationships with industry, with academia and project sponsors are as important now as they’ve ever been, especially given the historic levels of investment our nation is making in our infrastructure.
Last year we published our Partnership Philosophy to guide our relationships across the enterprise and into the future.
But partnering is more than a series of discreet events that take place during
the construction phase of a project. It is a mindset which embodies a set of behaviors that shape how we interact with each other and our stakeholders. These behaviors are rooted in three interdependent and mutually supportive elements: Commitment, Communication, and Collaboration.
A key part of building relationships is listening. In the last year, we’ve hosted a number of important listening sessions with industry to help share new information on important laws, such as environmental justice, while also hearing from them on what key decisions we can make to help accelerate project delivery.
I want to highlight just a few of the outcomes.
In May, I signed a partnership charter with the Association of General Contractors of America to enable collaboration to overcome obstacles and increase innovation, resiliency, sustainability, agility, and efficiency.
In April, we published a “Construction Partnering Playbook,” developed in coordination with our industry partners and key practitioners in the field, that is filled with first-hand construction project partnering knowledge and experience. It provides guidance, best practices, and scalable tools and processes that should be used to implement partnering on all USACE construction projects throughout the delivery life cycle.
And we’re not done. We will focus our collective efforts towards further advancing our partnering practices and have awarded a contract to industry to assist in development of additional training and templates to support successful partnering on jobsites.
Finally, innovation is the fourth priority. During the past several years, we’ve fundamentally changed our project and program delivery methods so that we can continue to provide engineering solutions to our nation’s greatest challenges.
One of our initiatives is an alternative delivery program: the Public-Private Partnership [P3] that we can use for large infrastructure projects that are more
10 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY MAJ. GRACE GEIGER
p Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, 55th chief of engineers and USACE commanding general, and Col. Jamie Booth, Jacksonville District commander, assess the damage caused by Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Oct. 3, 2022. Hundreds of USACE personnel were on the ground supporting emergency response operations such as temporary emergency power, infrastructure assessments, and Operation Blue Roof.
Q&A Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
than $50 million. P3 is a program where a non-federal government partner takes on more responsibility that helps accelerate project completion while saving tax dollars.
Using this process, we partner with non-federal entities such as a city, state, or port authority who are willing to take on more responsibility in delivering the projects that benefit them. This partnering approach allows for the use of local contracting and financing that results in streamlined implementation of the project. In exchange for more responsibility, the non-federal entities take on more risk, which helps to reduce the risk to the federal government.
For example, the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Risk Management Project in North Dakota is a $2.8 billion effort, and our partnership has saved over $330 million in taxpayer dollars, and accelerated project completion by 10 years. The project will be complete in 2027.
Another example is the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Project, which includes water quality and recreation features, restoring 11 miles of the Los Angeles River while maintaining existing levels of flood risk management. It’s a $1.4 billion effort, and the city of Los Angeles is contributing about 33% of the cost, including land acquisition. The project should be complete in 2028.
Speeding up how USACE does business will save millions of dollars and complete projects sooner.
We’re not going to be able to engineer our way to success, and we can’t use the same processes we had 10 years ago. It’s surprising how quickly things speed up with delegation and transparency.
It was only a few years ago that companies like Uber and Lyft revolutionized the taxi industry. We don’t have to go stand on a street corner for long periods of time hoping an empty cab will happen to come by: now the taxis come to us. Pushing more information to the public web, for example, allows stakeholders to find career opportunities with us, apply to Operation Blue
Roof in the aftermath of a storm, or even to check on the status of a permit request.
People have a growing interest in the environment and the use of natural materials and nature-based processes in civil and military construction. How did this effort develop and how do you see it impacting future projects?
Nature-based solutions are particularly attractive because they are often less costly, self-maintaining, and offer a range of co-benefits associated with natural habitats, like habitat for threatened and endangered species and recreational opportunities.
In spite of the fact that natural materials and nature-based processes are great for the environment and have obvious benefits, they aren’t always the best solution for every project. Most of our successes are water management projects or projects adjacent to a body of water.
One of our early successes, for example, was Horseshoe Bend Island in Louisiana. The New Orleans District strategically placed dredged sediment in
the Atchafalaya River, above a persistent sandbar. They placed the sediment in such a way that it washed downstream and eventually built the sandbar into a 35-hectare island that became an avian habitat. An added benefit was that the island increased waterflow through the navigation channel, reducing shoaling, and maintenance dredging costs.
Of course, we didn’t do this alone. We worked with numerous partners, including the Port of Morgan City and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And this wasn’t done overnight. It took nearly 15 years for the island to form and the habitat to grow. Working with nature often requires more time than a normal civil works project, but the benefits are undeniable.
This project won several industry awards and was also certified in 2017 as a World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure “Working with Nature” project.
Since then we’ve started numerous projects using natural and nature-based processes. One of the most notable is in support of Tyndall Air Force Base.
12 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY MAJ. GRACE GEIGER
p Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon met with USACE’s temporary emergency power planning and response team deployed from the Tulsa District at the generator staging base Oct. 4, 2022, in Immokalee, Florida.
PHOTO BY RICHARD BUMGARDNER
u Right: Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon met with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and administration leadership to discuss Hurricane Ian and to brief President Joe Biden on USACE activities, Sept. 30, 2022. q Below: Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon met with Maj. Gen. Adel Al-Hafedh, the Kuwaiti Air Defense commander, and his staff, at a Kuwaiti base on Feb. 1, 2022. The air defense site is a Foreign Military Sales construction project, managed by the Middle East District. Spellmon was in Kuwait reviewing USACE projects and meeting with key leaders and stakeholders.
I think we’re going to see increasing use of natural and nature-based solutions as people become increasingly aware of climate change. We’re also going to see an increase in designing multiple benefits into projects.
It wasn’t that long ago that most civil works projects had a single task: for example, dams stop water, levees channel water away. Now we’re analyzing the possibility of additional functions to our infrastructure. Can we build hydropower capability into that dam? Can we build habitat along that levee? Is there another organization we can partner with to help resource the additional expense of adding more benefits to that project?
I believe the future of construction will be more partner-oriented. Not just for USACE, but communities across America as they upgrade their infrastructure.
As we build the Army of 2030, how do you see the Engineer Regiment fitting into Multi-domain Operations (MDO), and how will emerging doctrine affect combat, general, and geospatial engineering missions?
Army doctrine is shifting to Large Scale Combat Operations across a five-domain model: air, land, sea, space, and cyber. We will field divisions as the “Unit of Action” capable of engaging in Multi-Domain Operations. The Engineer Regiment is designing a force structure that will be flexible enough for division commanders to weight the main effort and apply capabilities to
support combat priorities, in addition to close support for brigade combat teams [BCTs]. The types and number of units assigned to armored 2030 and joint forcible entry divisions, along with standard heavy and light divisions, will be optimized to each formation, but will include combat, construction, bridging, and geospatial engineering capabilities.
For several years, Army senior leaders have endorsed enhancements to the Army’s capability to cross wet gaps [river crossings] by creating additional active-duty multi-role bridge companies, along with appropriate engineer command and control headquarters to execute this complex mission set. While we have a solution for that critical need, there are also capability gaps in terrain shaping, breaching, and other areas. As Secretary
[of the Army Christine E.] Wormuth mentioned at the recent Maneuver Warfighter Conference, engineers must be capable of rapidly advancing with and enabling other close combat forces to maneuver, cross gaps, and execute combined arms breaching. She also called out the importance of modernization and engineer unit redesign to the Army of 2030.
The Army continues to field the Joint Assault Bridge and Assault Breacher Vehicle. However, many engineer units are still equipped with M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, M60-based Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges, and other obsolete systems. These units must be fielded with modern M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley-type vehicles to keep pace, communicate, and fight with the units they support. While we are making progress in developing the next generation explosive breacher and terrain-shaping capabilities, we must sustain current equipment sets to bridge the gap until full modernization occurs. Engineer units should be modernized at a pace and level matching the BCTs and divisions they support.
Echelon above brigade engineer units will continue conversion to more capable and flexible combat engineer companies optimized to support armored and infantry units [CEC-As and CEC-Is]. For instance, CEC-Is will add a third “Sapper” platoon and rapidly emplaced bridging capabilities. Clearance companies will combine route and area clearance capabilities and streamline equipment assets for a more capable and efficient company.
Engineer MDO doctrine will evolve to align with the new FM 3-0 as well as adapt to optimized unit designs, modernized equipment, and emerging capabilities. It will align with the “2022 National Defense Strategy,” the secretary of the Army’s six objectives, the “Army Campaign Plan 202330,” and the Army’s foundational priorities of People, Modernization, and Readiness. It will be shaped by the Army’s Arctic and Climate strategies, as well as emphasis on a data-centric Army that leverages analytical tools to optimize Mission Command.
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 13
“I think we’re going to see increasing use of natural and nature-based solutions as people become increasingly aware of climate change. We’re also going to see an increase in designing multiple benefits into projects.” Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
Q&A Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon
Commanders will need and expect our engineers to provide advanced geospatial products and services across all security domains and mission command systems, from strategic base to the frontline troops, while operating in disconnected, intermittent, low-bandwidth environments to ensure decision advantage. In the future, engineers will leverage robotics, artificial intelligence, tele-operation, virtual/augmented reality, directed energy, alternative power, and other cutting-edge technologies to maximize efficiency and effectiveness while reducing risk to exposed personnel. Engineer units will continue to provide exceptional combat, general, and geospatial engineering capabilities that impact all six warfighting functions and enable commanders to fight and win across every domain in 2030 and beyond.
During the last several years, we’ve seen devastating natural events around the world, from tragic flooding in Pakistan, to wildfires out West, and the recent destruction by massive hurricanes like Fiona and Ian in Puerto Rico and Florida.
What is USACE doing to address these types of events?
Obviously, climate change and resulting severe weather events have had a tremendous impact on communities across our nation. I believe that we are unique in how the technologies, innovations, engineering, and science within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – as well as our diverse, talented and geographically dispersed workforce – is prepared to support communities both on and off post, at home, and abroad.
I like to call it a “Whole of USACE” approach to fighting climate change.
First off, hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires, or any other extreme weather events don’t care if they impact the neighborhood community, a city, or Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
So, we view climate change as a threat to both our Civil Works infrastructure –think dams, levees, waterways – around the country and our Army’s camps, posts, and stations – CONUS and OCONUS – from which we mobilize and deploy our forces.
We are addressing climate change with two complementary efforts: first through
adaptation, meaning how we plan for future climate change impacts to projects we design and build, to ensure they are ready for future conditions.
The second is through mitigation. These are the behaviors and actions we can take today on our own USACE-managed lands and facilities, in support at our Army’s posts, camps and stations, and through project planning and design with our stakeholders to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
And to better enable resiliency, adaptation, and mitigation, our Engineering Research and Development Laboratories are hard at work helping us understand how climate change may impact our projects and our communities, and we are working with our partners to share expertise and apply lessons learned so we can be ready and, if impacted, bounce back quickly.
In USACE, we have five actions that drive our ongoing efforts to adapt and mitigate for climate change:
Our first action is to modernize USACE programs and policies to support climate-resilient investments. For us, that means updating our practices to leverage new knowledge and new technologies as we design for the environment of tomorrow.
Our second action is managing USACE lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience.
The Corps of Engineers owns and operates more than 700 dams across our nation and territories. When we talk about how extreme water events impact communities, it’s imperative that we use the latest actionable climate science and engineering practices to ensure we operate our dams in the most effective way possible, so we have capacity available to prepare for a flood, and we can hold as much water as possible during times of drought.
Our third action is really all about sharing information with state, local, and tribal government partners to improve preparedness.
We have several key programs that allow engineers and community planning
14 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
PHOTO BY JUSTIN GRAFF
p USACE’s Albuquerque District conducts post-wildfire debris removal in Rociada, New Mexico, Aug. 15, 2022. USACE began removing debris in the city of Rociada on Aug. 15, after receiving a mission assignment from FEMA to provide private-property debris removal in San Miguel and Mora counties.
Lt. Gen. Scott
experts to engage in key dialogue with us and our partners as well workshops to engage with the public.
Our fourth action is all about the tools and technology on the projects we build for civil works and military communities.
We use and make freely available information on historical and current conditions and projected future climate changes. This is critical data that policymakers can use to counter climate threats to projects, and mission areas.
As a service provider to the Army, Air Force, and other agencies, we are providing sustainable solutions to our partners and our stakeholders across the entire spectrum of our capabilities, from engineering, design, construction, and environmental services.
Finally, our fifth action directs our agency to plan for climate change-related risks to missions and operations, so that when climate and weather events strike, we are ready to absorb that impact and continue to deliver the mission.
This includes actions like continuity of operations plans, cross-training, and data backup so we can keep delivering even when one of our offices is affected by disaster.
What didn’t I ask about that you’d like to share while you have the forum? Any other challenges, opportunities and/or Corps achievements we should discuss?
We’re hiring! We are always looking for strong talent, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math [STEM] disciplines. Being able to complete our projects on time, within budget, safely means that we must attract and retain top notch talent.
How do we do that? First, we make sure USACE is a great place to work so we can attract talented people. We’re in the top 100 best places to work in the federal government, and our leaders are actively engaged in moving us up that ladder of great places to work.
We turn vacancies into developmental opportunities within our workforce to
diversify skills and provide a challenging workspace that is inclusive, diverse and team oriented. Black Engineer of the Year Awards named us the No. 3 top recruiter at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
We have some of the fastest onboarding times in the federal government. Most of our new hires begin in less than 90 days and we’re working to reduce that even more.
Onboarding time remains one of our greatest challenges. Industry can bring new hires onboard in a few days. We, as part of the federal government, have extra checks and balances like security clearances to work through. Most of the time, talented young people won’t wait for us.
Finally, while we focus on the mission today, we also have to proceed with an eye to the future. To that end, USACE is also making a significant push to add more teammates to better accommodate this growing mission, and in particular, in STEM disciplines.
We believe that there will be about 3.5 million STEM jobs in America that need to be filled by 2025. So, we owe it to ourselves and to our nation to do everything we can to expand and diversify our current and future pool of talent.
In November, I was proud to join Sarah EchoHawk, American Indian Science and Engineering Society president, in signing a partnership agreement that provides Native American students with formal access to Army STEM job and educational opportunities.
By signing this Memorandum of Understanding, we are literally opening the doors to the Corps by providing opportunities to better engaging with Native Americans through job fairs, career days, engagement with the USACE workforce, and access to projects, labs and research.
It also provides employment opportunities for indigenous peoples to contribute their passion, talents and ingenuity towards enhancing the USACE workforce. AE
16 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS COURTESY PHOTO
p USACE Commanding General Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon visited the Flood Risk Management Rio de la Plata project in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Oct. 11, 2022. During his visit, Spellmon was briefed by Wimel Varela, resident engineer, North Resident Office, USACE Antilles Office, on current status and performance of the project after the landfall of Hurricane Fiona.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Providing Technical Expertise
Providing Technical Expertise Around the Globe
It happened in Honduras: The BuckEye sensor system, combining a digital camera and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), was flown aboard a Super King Air turboprop aircraft over some of the Central American nation’s most floodprone areas. The resulting geophysical data was used to create two- and three-dimensional colored maps, down to a resolution of 6 inches, over more than 5,400 square kilometers – elevation models that will allow engineers to assess and build infrastructure, reduce flood risk, and plan for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The collection flights were completed in February 2022.
BY CRAIG COLLINS
A Beechcraft Super King Air conducts a calibration flight for the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) at Stennis International Airport, Mississippi, on April 18, 2022. JALBTCX surveys the sandy shoreline of the U.S. on a reoccurring basis. The high-resolution, three-dimensional data collected aboard the aircraft, by a system originally developed to support warfighters, has been used to great beneficial effect at home and abroad.
BuckEye was developed in 2004 by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) to support warfighters with geophysical maps and urban terrain data that could be used in conducting tactical surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the years since, the experts who developed this technology, along with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) customers and partners around the world, have capitalized on
the many potential uses for the unclassified color imagery and LiDAR elevation data collected by the system. In 2012, BuckEye was deployed in support of operations by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). In recent years, BuckEye’s high-resolution three-dimensional (HR3D) imagery and data have been used to support a series of engineering initiatives in Florida’s Okeechobee watershed, and to create “digital twins” of sections of the U.S. border wall, which can be
18 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS USACE
PHOTO BY CHUCK
PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. JOSHUA HAMMOCK
u U.S. Army Capt. William Megon, Mosul Dam Task Force logistics officer, explains the use of a grout reel in Mosul, Iraq, May 12, 2019. The grout reel is used in the emergency drilling and grouting operations within the grouting gallery.
used to support construction, maintenance, and repair.
According to David Hibner, who directs the Army Geospatial Center, the data and intelligence generated by the center’s experts serve several USACE missions: For example, to update and manage the inland electronic navigation charts that enable travel on 7,000 miles of intracoastal waterways, and provide the geospatial information that enables the modernization and maintenance of the nation’s 91,468 dams. “In terms of our international partnerships,” Hibner said, “the most obvious example is our BuckEye program. We do a lot of things with partner nations, with interagency partners – and, of course, we do a lot to support our Army and our combatant commands.”
Aircraft-mounted sensors collecting data for making HR3D watershed maps in Honduras, was not something Col. Richard Gridley imagined when he was appointed the U.S. Army’s first chief engineer in June 1775 – he was busy trying to win the Revolutionary War, recruiting the sappers, miners, and engineers who would design and build batteries and fortifications for the Continental Army. But neither did Gridley, nor his immediate successors, likely foresee the events that would, over the next two-and-a-half centuries, compel the United States to assign the Army’s engineers authority and responsibility to address some of the nation’s most crucial issues: overseas contingency operations, inland navigation, flood protection, water resources development, environmental restoration, emergency response, and more.
Today’s Corps of Engineers is noteworthy not only for this diverse mission set, but also for the global demand for its expertise and services:
• In South Korea, biologists with USACE’s Far East District work with partners
in the South Korean government and environmental community to prevent or minimize the impact of U.S. military facilities on natural resources and species. In the country’s most populous province, containing the capital of Seoul and its surrounding communities, 13 protected species have been identified, and the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, the joint effort to protect these species at the facilities of U.S. Forces-Korea, has produced a set of recommendations, in alignment with South Korean law and environmental policy, for personnel at these installations to manage surrounding natural resources.
• From its home in USACE’s Middle East District, the Technical Center of Expertise (TCX) for Aircraft Hangar Fire Protection shares its knowledge around the globe, designing, constructing, inspecting, and maintaining systems designed to protect assets often valued in the billions of dollars. USACE fire protection engineers have recently provided services in Honduras, India, Korea, Germany, Norway, and the Bahamas.
• In Mosul, Iraq, the Mosul Dam Task Force, a group consisting of 50 to 70 Soldiers, USACE civilian engineers, Iraqi engineers, and employees of private construction firms, worked to prevent the catastrophic collapse of Iraq’s largest dam – considered by many experts to be the world’s most dangerous dam. While USACE’s engineering experts helped to stabilize the dam with the largest drilling and grouting project ever undertaken, USACE project managers helped integrate the team of engineers and technical specialists – from the United States, Iraq, and other partner nations – who would train and build a capable, resilient Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, a team equipped and capable of maintaining Mosul Dam into the future. With this mission accomplished, the task force left Iraq in the summer of 2019.
• In the West Africa republic of Benin, engineers from USACE’s Europe District implemented and managed the construction of two medical facilities in the remote villages of Money and Godjekoara, both of which lie near a volatile border area under constant threat from
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“In terms of our international partnerships, the most obvious example is our BuckEye program. We do a lot of things with partner nations, with interagency partners – and, of course, we do a lot to support our Army and our combatant commands.” David Hibner, Director of the Army Geospatial Center
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Providing Technical Expertise
violent extremist groups and transnational crime. The facilities, completed in spring 2021, were funded by AFRICOM and coordinated with the U.S. State Department. The clinics offer an alternative to villagers who had been compelled to cross the border and seek care in either Niger or Burkina Faso; they give rural citizens secure places to seek health care and document the birth of new Beninese citizens – who, in the border region, have been at risk of human trafficking. The work of USACE in completing these and other humanitarian assistance projects in Africa – including the construction of several schools in Benin – is critical to meeting the missions and priorities of both AFRICOM and the State Department.
Today’s Corps of Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employs more than 36,000 civilians and 800
p A recently completed health clinic, with a water well hand pump on a concrete pad and a solar-powered light pole in the foreground, is seen here in the remote village of Money in Benin in Africa.
active-duty service members, who provide a suite of services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. It is an agency in the midst of a historic transformation: Typically authorized to execute an annual program of around $20 billion to $22 billion, USACE, at the outset of the 2023 fiscal year, was charged with performing between $90 billion and $95 billion in annual work – an increase largely due to projects authorized through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) of 2021.
It’s important, when looking at these numbers, to remember that they represent the value of the projects USACE works on, not its budgetary appropriation. Most of the projects in the USACE portfolio are funded
in whole or in part by customers who solicit the expertise of the Corps of Engineers. “We are a project-funded organization,” said USACE’s Director of Military Programs Christine Altendorf. “Our people work on projects in their various stages – planning, construction, operations, and maintenance – and we bill for those services. But we work for the federal government, and we don’t do anything that isn’t authorized.”
This workload is shared between two core mission areas:
MILITARY PROGRAMS. At its inception, USACE’s mission was to serve the warfighters of the Continental Army; one of its first tasks was to build fortifications at Bunker Hill, near Boston. Today’s Corps of Engineers supports the Army’s Engineer Regiment, headquartered at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The Army engineers in this regiment compose units that perform combat
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PHOTO COURTESY OF COSME QUENUM
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Providing Technical Expertise
engineering, rescue, construction, and other specialties, and all fall under the command of the Army Chief of Staff. The only uniformed unit that falls directly under the command of USACE is the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power), which provides commercial-level power to military units and federal relief organizations in time of need.
USACE carries out a program of military construction (MILCON) and installation readiness – designing, building, or upgrading facilities or infrastructure for:
• the Department of the Army ($4.9 billion at 287 installations throughout the United States).
• Air Force, Navy, the Defense Health Agency; and the Defense Logistics agency ($10.7 billion) installations and infrastructure; and
• the Missile Defense Agency ($875 million to five critical projects in Romania, Poland, and Alaska).
For the Army, said Altendorf, USACE doesn’t just build real estate – it buys, sells, and manages it. “We’re responsible for about 25 million acres of land,” she said, “and our real estate people do about 46,000 real estate transactions a year.”
USACE offers additional engineering support to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the other service branches – for example, $5 billion in support to the activities of the 11 combatant commands (COCOMs), such as SOUTHCOM, AFRICOM, etc.
Every year, USACE performs about $2 billion in environmental remediation work, providing technical expertise in cleanup and environmental restoration. This work is often done in collaboration with the other service branches, through programs such as Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS); with the Department of Energy, to clean up sites used by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission; and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which executes the Brownfields and Superfund programs.
Another USACE military mission is known broadly as Interagency and International Support (IIS), through which the
Corps of Engineers provides $4 billion in technical assistance annually to about 70 non-DOD federal agencies, state and local governments, tribal nations, foreign governments, NGOs, and private U.S. companies. This includes USACE competencies in disaster response and humanitarian assistance – expenditures that vary from year to year, depending on need. USACE also provides design, construction, engineering, and training to these non-DOD customers, including the design and construction of 22 projects for the Department of Veterans Affairs worth $8.7 billion, and $3.7 billion worth of Foreign Military Sales projects in 35 other countries. Other federal customers for whom USACE has recently designed, built, or renovated facilities include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State Department, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
CIVIL WORKS. Now the largest USACE work portfolio in terms of personnel and other resources, the Civil Works mission grew naturally out of the nation’s demand for engineering expertise: In 1824, when Congress needed to survey road and canal routes for a nation that was rapidly expanding westward, it authorized the use of Army engineers for the task. In the same year, it assigned the Corps of Engineers responsibility for improving the safety and navigability of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by removing sand bars, snags, and other hazards. In 1850, USACE built the nation’s first water supply project, the Washington Aqueduct; in the 1920s, it began building hydroelectric power plants.
As the nation suffered devastating floods in the late 1920s, Congress assigned USACE work on projects in the Mississippi River and Sacramento River watersheds – and, in 1936, assigned the agency the mission to provide flood protection, which USACE and its other partners now more precisely refer to as “flood risk management.” In response to the devastating floods that compelled this legislation, USACE also expanded its role in responding to natural disasters.
USACE expertise became increasingly important in environmental preservation and restoration in the late 20th century, and, in recent decades, USACE helped lead some of the most ambitious environmental restoration efforts in history, including the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) – the largest environmental restoration project ever undertaken. The Clean Water Act and its amendments authorize USACE to issue or deny permits for the deposit of dredge and fill materials into the waters of the United States and their adjacent wetlands – an activity often linked to agriculture or land development.
It’s difficult to capture the scope of everything USACE does today in its Civil Works mission area, but a few numbers offer a glimpse:
• USACE maintains or operates about 740 dams, and performs safety inspections of more than 2,000 federal and non-federal levees. Through its Dam and Levee Safety programs, it ensures that these sites meet criteria for safety and function. In collaboration with FEMA, it maintains the National Inventory of Dams, documenting data for all known dams in the United States and its territories;
• USACE now maintains an inland navigation system consisting of 25,000 miles of navigable channels and 196 commercial lock and dam sites;
• About 100 billion kilowatt-hours – onefourth of the nation’s annual hydropower supply and 3% of its total electrical capacity – is produced by 75 USACE-operated hydroelectric power plants on the nation’s river systems. The Corps of Engineers is the nation’s largest hydropower provider, and one of the largest in the world;
• USACE is one of the nation’s largest water-supply agencies, with 9.8 million acre-feet of water storage space available for municipal and industrial use; and
• USACE maintains more than 4,400 recreation sites – including 100,000 campsites and 3,800 boat ramps – on 12 million acres of land at more than 400 lakes
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nationwide. USACE lakes receive about 370 million visits annually, and more than a third of all the freshwater lake fishing that takes place in the United States happens on reservoirs maintained by the Corps of Engineers.
In the 2023 fiscal year, USACE’s Civil Works mission area is its fastest-growing. Already busy with $8.34 billion worth of projects, numbering more than 1,000 across the country, the agency is working with partners to implement more than $25 billion in disaster relief and emergency assistance in response to wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act added more than $17 billion in additional work to the USACE civil works portfolio.
In support of its military and civil works missions, USACE conducts a varied and vigorous research and development program, valued at more than $1.3 billion annually, on more than 2,000 projects aimed at solving problems for the Army, DOD, and IIS customers. From its roots as the first
federal civil engineering laboratory – the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi, established in 1928 – the multi-facility research enterprise collectively known as ERDC provides science, technology, and expertise through its seven component laboratories:
• Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL), Alexandria, Virginia;
• Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL), Vicksburg, Mississippi;
• Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), Hanover, New Hampshire;
• Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), Champaign, Illinois;
• Environmental Laboratory, Vicksburg, Mississippi;
• Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL), Vicksburg, Mississippi; and
• Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), Vicksburg, Mississippi.
ERDC’s wealth of expertise – among its 2,100 employees, about half are engineers and scientists with Ph.D. or M.S. degrees –has made it a frequent winner of the Army
Research Laboratory of the Year Award. Its work, conducted on all seven continents and in the Arctic, is diverse, investigating not only solutions for American warfighters, but also improvements to the lives and lifestyles of people almost everywhere in the world.
Combining a Wealth of Talent ... Literally, almost everywhere in the world. USACE’s technical experts design packed-ice cargo-plane runways for Antarctica’s McMurdo Station; study water security in Botswana’s Okavango Delta; collaborate with their counterparts in Indonesia on structural awareness for urban search and rescue; work with Brazil’s National Water Agency on flood risk management planning and training; design and build Coastal Crisis Management Centers in Bangladesh; collaborate with professionals in the Netherlands to design coastal protection technologies; build schools and clinics in Vietnam; and much more.
Technical expertise is what USACE is famous for, but engineering is far from the only vocation necessary to achieve this rich and varied mission set: Nearly all the Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs are served by USACE park rangers who help ensure fun, safe recreation while also working
24 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS USACE PHOTO
p A small portion of the flooded Okavango Delta is shown where the water is clear for about a foot or more. Locals claim this water is so clean that a person can drink directly from it. USACE personnel traveled to Botswana to assess opportunities to support water management and water security in the country’s Okavango Delta region.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Providing Technical
on other missions, such as the control of invasive species with USACE ecologists and fish and wildlife biologists, or the preservation and protection of cultural resources with USACE archaeologists. Designing, building, and purchasing real estate require the expertise of architects, contracting and realty specialists; legal counsel, and – like every part of the USACE enterprise – increasingly skilled and knowledgeable information technology specialists and managers. Maintaining safety and navigability on 25,000 miles of channels demands a fleet of survey vessels, each of which must be crewed by capable operators.
To leverage this vast collection of wisdom and expertise in pursuit of efficient problem-solving and best practices, without the stove-piping and red tape that often hinder big bureaucracies, USACE has established nearly 50 Communities of Practice (COPs): groups, independent of formal organizational structures, who regularly interact to collectively learn, solve problems, build skills and competencies, and develop best practices around a shared concern, goal, mission, set of problems, or work practice. COPs are as varied as USACE vocations, and include emergency management; library; inland navigation design; radio and satellite communications; hydrology and hydraulics; internal review; collaboration and public participation – and dozens more.
USACE never works alone. Its partnerships are often local collaborations with stakeholders and officials to make decisions at specific sites, or on specific projects. Some of its regional collaborations have been historic, such as the Interagency Performance Evaluation Taskforce (IPET), a joint effort among more than 150 government, academic, and industry partners that convened to study and report on the performance of the hurricane protection system in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The USACE Institute for Water Resources (IWR) is among the USACE institutions that work on a variety
of academic, domestic government, federal, and international partnerships –including, for example, USACE’s collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote safe, efficient, and environmentally sound water management systems.
In September 2022, when Altendorf and a team of USACE disaster support experts visited the nation of Azerbaijan to practice earthquake preparedness and response, it was a reminder, she said, that – at least for the professionals in the Corps of Engineers – there is no meaningful distinction between “military” and “civil works” activities: “A lot of the people who are working right now on responses to hurricanes in the Atlantic, when they’re not working at home, will be on these small teams that go to countries all across the world.”
In Azerbaijan, the team worked with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Defense, and other officials and stakeholders, to lead a natural disaster workshop and a tabletop exercise in response to a simulated earthquake – and shared the U.S. model for disaster relief, in which the mili-
tary works in support of a civilian effort led by FEMA. Altendorf – who, several years ago, oversaw the USACE environmental mission – watched as her Azerbaijani counterparts grappled with the same issues our own nation debated as its emergency response and homeland security capabilities evolved: “A lot of different agencies know different things,” she said. “Nobody is able to pull it all together and see the whole elephant. Everybody has their part.” Azerbaijani officials began to see opportunities for drawing on the resources of other agencies – its State Border Service, for example, or its neighboring countries –to execute a more thorough and effective disaster response.
It’s a perfect example of how completely the collaborative mindset, which has brought USACE expertise to every corner of the globe, has infused the organization: Its experts are collaborating with partners to learn how to collaborate better. The technical prowess, agility, and varied skill set the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – an agency with stakeholders in every conceivable community, working and living in every type of environment
– are unmatched.
collaboration is the key to
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p U.S. and Azerbaijani military and civilian officials participate in a disaster response tabletop exercise Sept. 20-22 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The exercise was sponsored by the Civil Military Emergency Preparedness (CMEP) program and included the participation of first responders from Azerbaijan and the United States. CMEP program events facilitate inter-ministerial and civil-military cooperation, enhance armed forces capabilities to provide defense support to civil authority, and foster regional/multilateral cooperation to support response to disasters.
“A lot of the people who are working right now on responses to hurricanes in the Atlantic, when they’re not working at home, will be on these small teams that go to countries all across the world.” Christine Altendorf, USACE’s Director of Military Programs
t The Kuwait Ministry of Defense (KMOD) and Middle East District teams in Old Town Winchester during the KMOD’s recent Program Management Review in Winchester, Virginia, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters there.
Middle East District Hosts Kuwaiti Mission Partners
The small town of Winchester, Virginia, located about 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., would not be the first place that comes to mind as an international business hub. But with an active construction program worth almost $4 billion, executed across multiple countries, and another $2.7 billion in future potential work, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) has been quietly making it just that for almost 50 years.
The district provides construction and related support services for U.S. military and allied nation partners throughout the Middle East, and although it has offices in eight countries in the region, the bulk of its program is managed from its headquarters in Winchester.
In most cases, TAM project managers and engineers meet with their mission partners in the countries where their projects are located, but on occasion, partners are hosted in Winchester and a bit of local hospitality is showcased along with project overviews.
That hospitality was on display recently during an Engineer Program Management Review (PMR) in Winchester with the Kuwait Ministry of Defense (KMOD) when the district decided to try something other than business as usual with the Kuwaiti engineers by opening each day with a diwaniya.
BY JOE MACRI
PROVIDING TECHNICAL EXPERTISE Middle East District 26 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
Diwaniyas are formal meetings, often business related, but also have a social facet that’s equally important. A special area is typically set aside, and they are considered a place to hold frank discussions on a variety of topics as well as get to know each other.
“Diwaniya plays an important role in the Kuwaiti society in the strengthening of social relations among Kuwaitis,” said Hamed Issa, TAM’s senior program manager in Kuwait. “They can be business related, but the social aspect is very important. They are also a place to discuss general issues with friends and relatives and circulate news and information.”
Issa added that it also provides a good opportunity to strengthen the bonds between partners.
“We often get stuck in a loop of briefings and project update visits, so we see our
mission partners frequently but don’t really get to know them. Breaking that paradigm allows us to actually get to know each other. It’s much easier to do business with those you know and trust.”
Joseph Zaraszczak, a program manager and the chief of the TAM branch responsible for Kuwait programs, said although the district has always had a strong relationship with its Kuwaiti partners, he appreciated their desire to come to Winchester and see the district’s capabilities in their entirety.
“Although we’re constantly engaging with our mission partners, they are often working directly with our program and project managers on specific projects. Bringing them to Winchester allows them to see the full scope of assets the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can bring to the table. The value engineering, the scheduling tools, the
ability to reach out to other districts with specific expertise, are things that might not be front and center to our mission partners but are a key reason they choose to work with USACE,” said Zaraszczak.
After the visit, the Kuwaitis indicated they’d like to make the Engineer PMR and the included diwaniya with the district a more official annual occurrence.
“During the visit, I was getting daily feedback from the Kuwaitis, Col. Osama [director, FMS Directorate, Foreign Procurement Sector, KMOD], and the Office of Military Cooperation-Kuwait [OMC-K],” said Issa. “They indicated they saw a lot of value in this and possibly conducting one every year. It was reverberated by OMC-K staff to other USACE management that the ´PMR went great’ and ‘the USACE team did outstanding!’” AE
PROVIDING TECHNICAL EXPERTISE Kansas City District
From Florida to Puerto Rico to Kansas: 249th Engineer Battalion Practices Industry Skills
Soldiers from the 249th Engineer Battalion, Prime Power, put their lineman skills to the test when they competed in the 38th International Lineman’s Rodeo at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas, on Oct. 15, 2022.
Teams and apprentices from four of the five companies within the battalion competed: three active companies, Alpha Company, Charlie Company, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, as well as the battalion’s reservists, Delta Company.
BY REAGAN ZIMMERMAN
Competitors participated as journeyman teams, which consist of two journeyman climbers and one journeyman groundman, who specialize in building and maintaining electrical power systems, and as individual apprentices, who were there to practice their skills in hopes of becoming a journeyman.
Teams and apprentices competed in four events, two known events and two that were
a mystery until the day before the event. Each event tested a different set of skills and gave Prime Power Soldiers the chance to practice those skills.
“We are here for justification of our skills … It is to prove ourselves in the industry –that we are an asset and that our knowledge justifies us being in this industry,” said Sgt. 1st Class Virgil Jordan of Charlie Company out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia. “[The competitors] do this on a daily basis [and we don’t], so to be here and be alongside of them … we know our training is paying off.”
As Prime Power Soldiers, working on power lines is not their “everyday” job. The Soldiers competing in the rodeo hold the 12P Military Occupation Specialty
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PROVIDING TECHNICAL EXPERTISE Kansas City District
(MOS), but also took on a U4 identifier, Power Line Distribution Specialist, under their MOS. The identifier gives them the additional responsibility of working on power lines when that skill is needed on missions.
The “normal” 12P jobs include three different missions: National Response Framework missions, or NRF, where they deploy to support disaster relief efforts across the country; Task Force Power or Safe missions, where they travel to bases and conduct safety checks on electrical systems; and Prepare to Deploy missions (PTDL), where they set up new base camps overseas.
“We are the force that brings sustainability to the battle front,” Jordan said. “We build, sustain, and support.”
Many Prime Power Soldiers, even some that attended the rodeo, are either actively supporting or just finished supporting NRF missions in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, and in Puerto Rico, in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.
“I went from Florida directly to [Kansas] after being in Florida for about two weeks,” said Staff Sgt. Rafiqy Tucker of Alpha Company out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
His team, and many others across Florida and Puerto Rico, traveled to locations prior to the hurricanes to pre-stage a response effort, and activated after the hurricane to provide temporary emergency power. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is helping to coordinate, run, and facilitate the temporary emergency power missions in both Florida and Puerto Rico.
“[Our mission is] to kick out generators and restore temporary emergency power to facilities that are deemed by FEMA as mission critical. Typically [the mission critical] facilities are hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and water distribution plants,” Capt. Adam Hamilton, USACE Kansas City District project engineer, said.
Hamilton is part of USACE Northwestern Division’s Power Planning and Response Team and is currently serving as a power mission commander on a temporary emergency power mission in Puerto Rico.
Hamilton works with Prime Power Soldiers every day in the field.
“[Prime Power’s] most important thing is assessments. When someone requests a generator, we send them out immediately to go recon a site. They will deem whether that site needs a generator. If it [needs one], then they need to figure out what generator would be suitable for that site … They use their technical expertise to determine if and at what level the site is powered,” Hamilton said.
Though they are not restoring powerlines like they are at the Lineman’s Rodeo, these Soldiers’ industry skills still transfer into these emergency situations.
“[Understanding] the lineman facet is very beneficial because if I need to figure out the power coming into a building for a generator, I can go and look at their overhead lines and say, ‘They have this many insulators, this
many lines coming off of the transformer and this is the way this system is set up, so it is most likely this voltage or power coming into this building and can then pick a generator,’” Tucker said. “I don’t get to do the job of climbing up the pole all the time but having that skill set definitely is beneficial because it allows me greater insight into how utilities systems are set up.”
Events like the Lineman’s Rodeo help Prime Power Soldiers train for all types of situations, so that when they are called to fulfill a mission, they will exceed the expectations.
“The outstanding non-commissioned officers that have remained flexible and able to execute beyond expectation repeatedly are just awesome. I’ve been able to work with Prime Power two times now and they continue to impress me every time,” Hamilton said. AE
Journeyman Results Top 30%: 64. 249th Engineer Battalion Charlie Company (Prime Power) – Jason Wilson, William Coleman, Steven Fargo.
Apprentice Results Top 30%: 33. 249th Engineer Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Prime Power) – Luis Davila. Full results can be found here: https://www.linemansrodeokc.com/results-final/.
PHOTO BY REAGAN ZIMMERMAN
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p Sgt. Gabriel Mata, assigned to the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) Delta Company, competes in one of the apprentice mystery events during the 38th International Lineman’s Rodeo at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas, on Oct. 15, 2022.
USACE Archaeological Program
When you think “archaeology,” do you think U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)?
Probably not. Archaeology brings up images of Indiana Jones, dusty tombs, and getting chased out of caverns by giant rolling boulders. Yet, despite this, USACE curates the second-largest collection of cultural resources in the United States, second only to the Smithsonian Institution.
We even own a full Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.
Sure – we’ve loaned it out to the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History for half a century, but facts are facts: That big mean fossil is ours.
So how did USACE become this powerhouse of archaeology and natural history? According to Little Rock District archaeologist Allen Wilson it didn’t start in a tomb, or being chased by boulders while dodging arrow traps.
“Although archaeology is an exciting field, it’s not like what you see in the movies. In fact, Indiana Jones is a terrible archaeologist,” said Wilson.
In truth, USACE’s relationship with cultural artifacts and archaeology stem from the work they do in support of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Section 106 states that the federal government must consider historic properties during any undertaking that takes place on federal lands, uses federal funds, or requires federal permissions.
Additionally, being a land management agency, USACE is subject to environmental laws such as the National Environment Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Upon full implementation of these laws in the early 1970s, USACE had to employ its own environmental staff, including archaeologists, to keep up with the infrastructure needs of the nation. Passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 expanded the scope of USACE’s duties and
BY ERIN JIMENEZ
authorities under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
If a site is located and determined to be eligible, and if that site cannot be avoided by the proposed undertaking, USACE must then enter into an agreement with the state and any cultural or tribal organizations with an interest in the area. The intent is to mitigate any damage to the site while learning as much as possible.
Yet project sites aren’t the only place you’ll find archaeologists like Wilson working.
One of the most common places you’ll find them are at USACE project offices, working alongside rangers and natural resource specialists to preserve artifacts found by campers, hikers, and hunters.
“USACE parks and lakes draw a lot of people, including amateur archaeologists and treasure hunters,” Wilson said. “Yet taking artifacts or starting your own excavation on federal land is very illegal and comes with severe penalties.”
According to Wilson, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act enacted in 1979 protects artifacts found on federal property and can levy heavy fines or even jail time for those that disturb or remove artifacts.
Currently, there are numerous ongoing archaeological sites in the Little Rock District. One that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the resort town of Monte Ne located in Rogers, Arkansas. Monte Ne was founded in 1900 and had the world’s largest log hotels, attracting visitors from across the country for more than two decades.
The property became USACE’s after the White River was dammed to create Beaver Lake in the mid-1960s, leaving much of the resort and original town of Monte Ne under water.
It is important that historical sites are preserved, because there are very few
protections afforded to these resources outside of those located on federal lands.
USACE balances the needs of our continually growing nation by preserving an area, if possible, and documenting it and studying it extensively – if only to ensure the historical legacy of those who came before us is not lost. AE
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p Top: The Oklahoma Row Site at the former Monte Ne Resort, a three-story concrete tower, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Above: Little Rock District archaeologist Allen Wilson digs holes in a grid pattern during a Phase 1 Survey.
PHOTO BY JAY TOWNSEND
Contract Awarded for Largest Overseas U.S. Military Hospital
The contract to build the largest U.S. hospital outside the United States was signed in February 2022, marking a significant step forward in progressing the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center Replacement (ROBMCR) project.
The German Construction Administration, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Europe District and the U.S. Defense Health Agency
(DHA), awarded a €859 million (approximately $969 million) contract to Züblin and Gilbane Joint Venture to construct a new hospital at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany.
BY EUROPE DISTRICT AND THE U.S. DEFENSE HEALTH AGENCY
p Rendering of the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center Replacement (ROBMCR) project. The contract to build the largest U.S. hospital outside the United States was signed in February 2022, marking a significant step forward in progressing the ROBMCR project. The German Construction Administration, in partnership with USACE’s Europe District and the U.S. Defense Health Agency, awarded a €859 million (approximately $969 million) contract to Züblin and Gilbane Joint Venture to construct a new hospital at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany.
The contract includes construction of a modern 985,000-square-foot hospital that features nine operating rooms, 120 exam rooms, and 68 beds, with a surge capacity of 25 additional beds. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2027.
“We are incredibly proud of our team’s contribution to achieve this critical milestone that will enable us to provide our service members and their families with the best facility modern medicine has to offer,” said USACE Europe District Commander Col. Patrick Dagon.
30 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, EUROPE DISTRICT, IMAGE PROVIDING TECHNICAL EXPERTISE Europe District & DHA
The German Construction Administration is executing this large-scale project through a partnering process, which involved construc tion industry expertise during the design phase. The award to Züblin and Gilbane Joint Venture, a strong partnership of leading con struction firms, brings both German and U.S. perspective to the project quality, schedule, and cost requirements.
When this new medical campus opens, it will replace and co-locate the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, constructed in 1953, and the 86th Medical Group Clinic to become the largest U.S. medical center on foreign soil, providing primary care, spe cialized consultative care, hospitalization, and treatment for more than 200,000 U.S. military personnel, Defense Department, and interagency civilians and dependents in Europe.
The strategically located medical center will serve as the only forward-stationed evacu ation and treatment center for injured U.S.
service members, civilians, and contractors serving in Central and Southwest Asia, Eu rope, and Africa, and provide critical medical support to seven combatant commands. When completed, the new hospital will employ approximately 2,500 people.
“The Defense Health Agency looks for ward to the completion of the new medical center at Rhine Ordnance Barracks in 2027, which will continue to provide primary and specialty care for our beneficiaries around the world,” said Capt. Mark Lieb, DHA division chief for Facilities Enterprise. “This project is truly a large-scale collaboration between the Defense Health Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the German government.”
This contract represents the next – and most significant – phase of the campus con struction that already includes almost $200 million of recently completed hospital infra structure work, such as a new access control point, bridge, utilities, and roadways.
The German government is contributing more than €151 million (approximately $180 million) for design and construction man agement. The new hospital is part of the U.S. forces’ substantial investment in Germany.
“The U.S. invested approximately $350 million annually in construction projects in the past few years, which are executed by the Federal Construction Administration. This demonstrates the excellent reputation the Ger man Construction Administration enjoys with our international partners,” said Sören Bartol, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Minis try of Housing, Urban Development and Con struction. “Furthermore, these investments boost Germany’s economy and preserve jobs in economically distressed regions.”
“The German Construction Authority is proud to be responsible for the design and implementation of this unique project for the U.S. forces,” said Bettina Bachem, the LBB Weilerbach director. “It is truly a once-in-a-life time project.” AE
USACE Real Estate: The Foundation of Military Recruiting
Local armed forces recruiting offices are often the first place a prospective service member interacts with the military. It’s here where America’s sons and daughters make the decision to serve their country, and as a gateway to service, it’s important these spaces honorably reflect the branches that will welcome Americans to the profession of military service.
What may not be known about the military recruitment effort, however, is these offices are all
BY JOSHUA VODA
facilitated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It is through USACE’s Real Estate function that military recruitment offices for all branches are procured and maintained.
As a former regional program manager for the Armed Forces Joint Recruiting Facilities Program, Janice Williams worked for USACE for 32 years, before recently retiring with more than 40 years of federal service. In that time, she oversaw many recruitment projects across 22 states.
“What I always tried to instill in my realty specialists was people no longer join the military by way of a draft. It’s an all-volunteer armed force. When someone visits a recruiting office, it’s important that we make sure it represents our nation. We don’t want a parent to feel uncomfortable leaving their child in a setting that, from the start, doesn’t feel safe. Realty specialists should take great pride in every recruiting office we build and ensure each is top quality. This is the first impression they are going to get of the military, and we don’t want to do anything that would make them second-guess their decision,” she said.
Real Estate doesn’t simply oversee the lease acquisition of properties, however. It’s
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COURTESY OF JANICE WILLIAMS
p Renovation work at the Times Square military recruitment booth in 2017 included enhancements to the now-iconic U.S. flags illuminated along the booth’s sides.
PHOTO BY BRAD TERRILL
an all-encompassing effort. Once a property is leased and build-out is complete, realty specialists are responsible for all necessary contracting, such as janitorial, utilities, parking, security, facilities maintenance, seasonal upkeep, and more.
With properties across the country, this translates to very time-intensive work that requires much attention to detail. Some of these recruitment offices are also iconic and highly visible. One such office is the recruiting booth located centrally in Times Square in New York City – a property Williams calls her “claim to fame.”
“The military recruiting station in Times Square has been a presence there since 1942. It’s the most visible symbol of armed forces recruiting in the world, and it is a product of the Army Corps of Engineers. I first became involved with the property around the year 2000 when we began serious renovations to the space – at that time, it didn’t even have a bathroom. More recently, we did even more overhauls that also included significant security upgrades.”
These days, perhaps the building’s most iconic features are the illuminated American flags along each long side of the booth. In years prior, the building featured an actual flagpole, but it was difficult to keep the flag clean and maintained. By creating the illuminated side panels, this remedied the issue and aligned the building with the aesthetic of Times Square in a modern and enticing manner.
Outside of the Northeast, there are four other regional program managers for the Joint Recruiting Facilities Program, covering the rest of the United States, as well as stations overseas. Williams originated the role, and more positions were added later. On the West Coast, Brad Terrill, the Northwest Division regional program manager and a 28-year veteran of USACE, has a similar take on the role, and emphasizes the security element of procuring recruitment spaces.
“By far, this is a mission to ensure the security of the country. If the recruiting program doesn’t succeed, the military has a hard time putting bodies in boots to defend the country. So, for me, that was one of the
things that drew me to the leasing side, because I knew [the importance] of maintaining this image. This is the No. 1 and most satisfying thing for me – knowing that I’m helping to protect the country and its citizens,” he said.
This effort is two-fold; Terrill helps military recruitment attract and retain service members, but also puts into effect security measures that enhance the safety of recruiting offices and staff members themselves. Much of this work involves fortifying the recruiting structures with physical security measures. Often, security incidents – like in 2015 when an active shooter attacked a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee – prompt reviews that result in upgrades needing to be implemented across the range of facilities. It’s complicated work that isn’t without its challenges.
“One of the biggest challenges is working within strict budgets,” said Terrill. “Protecting the facilities with new mitigations and making sure that issues are fixed – the amount of dollars that we have for those isn’t very large, compared to the overall budget, which pays for rents and associated utilities. But when it comes to upgrades, that funding is tight. The challenge has been trying to get enough funding at the right time to complete certain projects.”
Some challenges are also regional and dependent on the geographic area a
program manager oversees. For Terrill, his territory covers the largest amount of land mass, with significant diversity in terms of facility locations. His includes major urban centers like Denver, and far more isolated locales like Guam. Aside from the inherent hurdles of varying business practices from one place to another, special considerations must be made for many offices, such as extreme weather and seasonal fortification.
Military recruitment is only one facet of the Real Estate mission, however. Other areas include civil works, environmental, and other military-specific work. Real Estate plays a role in nearly all projects undertaken by USACE. Both Terrill and Williams emphasized the imperative for Real Estate to have a seat at the table when every project is being planned. Real Estate may not always get the glory, but most projects couldn’t move forward without its efforts.
In the case of military recruitment, one aspect remains steadfast: Whether presenting to the individual, their family and community members, or various distinguished visitors, a recruitment facility exists as a face for the military and its service branches. They are structures that, at their best, portray excellence and the military values that motivate individuals to serve. Their success depends on the dedication of USACE Real Estate professionals. AE
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p U.S. Army branding enhances recruitment messaging within Army recruitment centers at locations in the United States and overseas.
Materials Engineers Help Ensure USACE Project Success in Poland
With the construction of more than 50 munitions bunkers getting underway for the Munitions Storage Area (MSA) project in Powidz, Poland, it’s anticipated that more than 17,500 cubic meters of concrete will be placed – enough concrete to completely fill seven Olympic swimming pools.
The site will be a key element of the Army Prepositioned Stock Facility being built as part of larger plans to deter aggression along NATO’s eastern
BY CHRISTOPHER GARDNER
flank, and senior U.S., Polish, and NATO officials participated in its ceremonial groundbreaking.
With a project of such international importance, making sure it’s done right is paramount.
That’s part of why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Europe District brought in experts from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) based in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
“The quality of your project starts with controlling your materials and making sure that what you put in the ground, on the ground, or above the ground meets or exceeds the expectations of the designers and the engineers,” said GSL’s Materials Testing Center (MTC) Director Chad Gartrell while in Powidz. “You’ve got to have people who truly understand the nature
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BY STAFF SGT. ANGEL D. MARTINEZ-NAVEDO PROVIDING TECHNICAL EXPERTISE Europe District & ERDC
p U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski gives remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony for a Munitions Storage Area being constructed in Powidz, Poland, June 2, 2022, where he was joined by Polish Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak, NATO Investment Committee Chair Emanuele Meli, and Plenipotentiary to the Minister of Defense for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Polish Brig. Gen. Dariusz Mendrala. The ceremony marked the beginning of the Poland Provided Infrastructure program, which provides a mechanism for sharing the costs for U.S. forces in Poland. Infrastructure projects are funded by Poland and are designed and constructed to meet U.S. requirements for use by U.S. forces operating in Poland. For its part, the United States will continue to bear the costs of training, equipping, deploying, and employment of U.S. forces in the country.
of the material and how to test it properly and to be able to interpret the results. And, beyond that, to understand if it doesn’t meet the criteria – what do we do to fix it.”
Gartrell, along with USACE Savannah District’s Mike Wielputz, inspected the onsite materials (aggregate, concrete, and soils) laboratory set up to support the MSA construction efforts to ensure equipment, procedures, and facilities met all required standards. They also conducted training and testing for engineers and lab technicians on the site to obtain the necessary American Concrete Institute certifications they need to assess the concrete being produced throughout construction to ensure all standards are met.
“Depending on the particular circumstances and qualifications of the lab that is going to work on a particular USACE-owned or -administered project, the MTC may conduct anything from a desk audit all the way up to a full, on-site inspection of the laboratory, which is what we’re doing here in Powidz in Poland,” Gartrell said.
of facilities designed to safely store and secure munitions, and using thousands of cubic meters of concrete in the process, ensuring the quality of the material is especially vital on the MSA project.
“These bunkers are going to be storing military munitions, and with that comes a great deal of safety requirements baked into the design,” said Europe District Project Engineer Ed Argueta. “We appreciate the team from ERDC and Savannah District bringing their deep expertise out here to inspect the testing laboratory, provide guidance on the batch plant, and provide training and testing to certify our contractors to make sure the project is a success and can support the larger mission here in Powidz.”
Gartrell said that ERDC supports USACE and Defense Department missions all over the world on a wide variety of needs – in this case, construction quality control and materials testing.
“We’ve worked with labs in Djibouti, Africa, American Samoa, South Korea, Wake Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Hawaii, Alaska, all over the lower 48 states, just to name a few,” Gartrell said. “In general, we’re trying to help ensure that laboratories that are working on these U.S.
Quality is key on all construction projects, but with the construction of dozens
projects understand the values that they’re getting and can run a good quality test – and a repeatable test – and get good results, so the government has the best option to get the product they want.”
Gartrell stressed that the MTC and ERDC, along with their wealth of expertise, were ready and willing to help teams across USACE, anywhere in the world, to deliver the highest-quality projects – all they have to do is reach out and call.
“In the case of the MTC, you’ve got multiple people in one building that focus on asphalt, concrete, aggregate, soil and cement, and pozzolans,” Gartrell said. “If there’s a problem, they either have dealt with it before, or they are eager to dive in and try and figure out the best way to deal with it to solve the problem that’s happening in the field. That’s the reason we’re there. We love it when people call us and say, ‘Hey, we have a problem, can you guys help us?’ And the answer 99.999% of the time is: ‘Absolutely, we can help you.’”
He added that often, they are able to help solve problems without even traveling.
“Sometimes solutions come with some cost. Sometimes they cost nothing more than some time and a few phone calls to give us a chance to listen to your problem and provide some guidance and possible solutions,” Gartrell said. “This is what we do, and this is what we love to do.” AE
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PHOTO BY ED ARGUETA
p USACE Savannah District’s Mike Wielputz and U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Chad Gartrell provide training on concrete standards and necessary certifications to contractors in Powidz, Poland, working on munitions storage area construction efforts, June 24, 2022. USACE’s Europe District construction involves building more than 50 bunkers, using roughly 17,500 cubic meters of concrete, and the training is part of ensuring the project and its onsite concrete laboratory meet all required standards.
FEST Provides the Forward Face of USACE
In the military, deploying to different locations around the world can be and is an everyday occurrence.
Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines routinely must pack their bags and go to a different location for a period of time to perform their jobs, in often austere locations.
BY CHUCK WALKER
In the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), these deployments are fulfilled by a Forward Engineer Support Team (FEST) and one such team is based in the Mobile District.
Maj. Kelli Foley, USACE’s FEST-Advance Team officer in charge, said one of the reasons she likes being a part of FEST is the unique opportunities it provides her in her career.
“What I personally enjoy about it most is how it bridges so many different facets of the strategic and diplomatic objectives that I would otherwise never impact,” Foley said. “For example, typical garrison
p Maj. Kelli Foley, Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance officer in charge, and Sgt. 1st Class Dandy Prak, noncommissioned officer in charge, run an equipment check in their office at Mobile, Alabama, Sept. 14, 2022. Foley and Prak were ensuring their equipment is operational for an upcoming deployment.
experiences within the Army unit do not really span outside of that installation. We aren’t directly impacting the local community; we are impacting the overarching Army mission, but only at a very, very, small scale. As a member of FEST, we find ourselves helping to enable the development of improved partnerships between not only other Army agencies, but Navy, Air Force, and allied militaries as well.”
A FEST-Advance Team is a small advanced-engineering team consisting of an officer in charge and a noncommissioned officer in charge and six Department of the Army civilian engineers. The team
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WALKER PROVIDING TECHNICAL EXPERTISE Mobile District
PHOTO BY CHUCK
is a component of USACE’s Field Force Engineer (FFE) program and designed to provide support to combatant commands and joint task force-level organizations.
Often the team will include civil, mechanical, electrical, structural, geospatial, and environmental disciplines, and may include additional certificates to better accommodate mission requirements.
Foley said the FEST Team gets a variety of training, both local and formal, before it deploys to the assignment.
“Each team goes about their deployment preparation a bit differently as various variables come to play on each rotation,” Foley said. “But in general, each team – time permitting – conducts some form of local training, attends the FFE FEST course in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and a certification exercise, as well as various administrative and medical requirements.”
Once a FEST-A Team is forward deployed, Foley said the tasks or projects the team is asked to provide can vary, but that they typically focus on better enabling mission success.
“Sometimes, this means assessing older installations to determine how best to bring them up to a new desired capacity or their original state,” Foley said. “Often times, its simpler tasks like conducting a route assessment from point A to point B. To give you an example, we may receive a request for support to assess an old building. We would send the team to this location to collect data and conduct their assessment, then we would create a product packet that consists of our finding, recommendations, scope of work, designs, and cost estimate, if applicable.”
Foley’s advice for anyone who desires to be a part of a FEST Team, is to make sure you know what your personal and professional goals are, then choose a rotation that matches up with what you want to accomplish.
“FEST deployments are a very regular occurrence, so don’t feel the need to rush on the first opportunity you see,” Foley said. “Currently, teams are on
six-month rotations. Think about where you’d like to go and when, and communicate your interests with your supervisor well in advance. It’s important to note, that you require approval from your supervisor and typically your district commander; so, it is vital that you are clear and proactive about your professional goals early so you can all work together to achieve them.”
Foley said that her goals for the FEST Team in the near future is to help each other achieve their goals and to establish a good legacy for the teams that follow them.
“CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] operations for FEST-As are winding down rather significantly, so we want to ensure our team gets as valuable an experience as
p Members of the Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance from Mobile, Alabama, pose with their guide, Filipino Army Lt. Inna Vier, at Fort Magsaysay in the Philippines on July 14, 2022. The FEST-A Team spent a week in the Philippines, where they completed field training for an upcoming deployment.
possible,” Foley said. “We have many firsttime deployers, so we hope to help them experience and appreciate the unique aspects of CENTCOM life as well as work with as many different agencies as possible.
Much of how we succeed is reliant on the relationships we build and strengthen. So, we certainly hope to continue to develop relationships for the teams that will follow behind us.” AE
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Sponsored Advertising Content
HOW TO CREATE A DOD-CERTIFIED MICROGRID
can be unique and can require an equally unique solution to maximize benefits.
In a quest for the optimum solution, DOD ESTCP financed the Rapid and Repeatable Modeling and Design of Secure and Resilient Microgrids (Rapid-Resilient-Microgrid) project, working with Xendee Corporation, in collaboration with Arizona State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California Polytechnic Institute San Luis Obispo, and the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command.
To this end, Xendee and its partners engaged in a demonstration of a standardized, transparent, streamlined, and repeatable platform solution that addresses the capabilities requested by the ESTCP. Designed to achieve DOD goals by focusing on unique situations at real installations, the demonstration took place on three military installations with disparate scale, mission, geography, and regulation. In this case, the sites were Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia; U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria; and Naval Base San Diego, California.
The Xendee platform used in these demonstrations consists of a state-ofthe-art economic optimization and power system tool built on more than 20 years of research and development. It’s cloud based and hosted on secure remote or localized servers. Within this project, Xendee concluded the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) process to be able to be used by DOD. Xendee is also registered in the General Services Administration catalog.
The advantages are clear. Microgrids can reduce the energy and physical footprint of military installations. This in turn reduces the reliance on and impact to local communities while improving the likelihood of uninterrupted
power despite disruptions on local utility networks.
However, scalability is not easily ap plicable to microgrids, as they can only be standardized to a certain point. That’s because the landscape for each location
The purpose was to demonstrate the end-to-end microgrid design and implementation platform coupled with a DOD tailored training program to im prove microgrid literacy. The Xendee platform is an informed decision-making technology that expands and builds upon well-established scientific models of microgrid power and energy behavior. It creates a single user platform around
ADOBE STOCK/ MISHELLA
38 I AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), through its Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), has identified microgrids as a key technology for increasing security, energy efficiency and resilience at new and existing military installations.
The appearance of or reference to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government does not imply or indicate endorsement by any of these entities.
Members of the U.S. Army help Hurricane Sandy victims move debris and parts of destroyed houses in New York, Nov. 12, 2012.
REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM SERDP/ESTCP, PROJECT # EW20-B8-5271 (STADLER, 2022), 13.
these tools, combines it with databases and interfaces to external tools (e.g., solar data and tariff data) and streamlines the whole microgrid design and implemen tation process.
At each of the three military instal lations, the first three steps were meant to mimic the design phase of a DOD microgrid. This provided real deliver ables to the installations at the end of stage three, along with an assessment in terms of time and cost savings of the demonstration. Step four synthesized the learning made in those three steps, distilling and documenting the repeat able and standard approach. Step five crafted a training program around the work performed in the first four steps. Step six ensured that Xendee met the minimum cybersecurity requirements for operation within the DOD. And step seven focused on technology transfer and project outreach while also providing demonstration to general management.
REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM SERDP/ESTCP, PROJECT # EW20-B8-5271 (STADLER, 2022), 15.
A lack of microgrid standardization was noticed early on in the process. The challenge was exacerbated by a lack of tools or a network within the DOD to get started on microgrid projects.
This in turn led to a massive reliance on third-party designers, typically engi neering procurement and construction (EPC) firms that are outside of the DOD umbrella to provide such analysis. This then creates an expensive and delayed design process with a single EPC often carrying out the entire process.
With all this in mind, this microgrid demonstration presented the opportu nity to counter this unnecessary process through the creation of a standard re peatable design approach that is branch and tool independent. In Figure 2, the standard design of a microgrid typically follows three key milestones for funding and engineering, but this process can also change depending on the procurement method used by the organization. For instance, some methods (Design-BidBuild) may incorporate a stage for bidding among multiple vendors while some leave the ownership of the microgrid in
TOP: The process for creating a DOD Microgrid according to the research performed by the project team. Tasks 1 through 5 occur in sequence while tasks 6 and 7 are ongoing. ABOVE: Typical funding milestones and associated engineering steps identified by the project team.
the hands of the provider – buying the energy instead as a service (ESPC).
To round out each site demonstration activity, Xendee and its partner, Arizona State University, created a DOD-special ized training curriculum designed to train service members at participating installations from the ground up on using the Xendee software.
In terms of budget, the average costs to complete even the most complex modeling using Xendee resulted in less than 1% of total project costs. A survey of publicly available microgrid feasibility and design cost data was
conducted and compared to Xendee design and modeling costs. Xendee design modeling costs averaged ~13% of the industry average.
Additional time savings were realized as well, with modeling taking weeks –not months – in person-hours. To learn more about this process and the xendee platform, schedule a demonstration at xendee.com/defense.
Shaping a Sustainable Future
The 21st century has been an era of extremes for the Panama Canal: The region’s biggest droughts, and eight of the largest storms ever recorded, have happened in the last 20 years. In fact, 2014, and then 2016, were the driest years since the canal was completed in 1914.
BY CRAIG COLLINS
But the dry season of 2019 was the worst yet. After five months of almost zero precipitation, river flows to the canal’s two lakes, Gatún and Alajuela, were down 60%. Gatún – one of the world’s largest artificial lakes, comprising a 21mile traverse through the Canal Zone for vessels with drafts of up to 50 feet – was dangerously low, forcing the Panama Canal Authority to lower customers’
maximum allowable draft and limit the amount their largest ships could carry. At the same time, it was forced to raise the rates it charged for passage.
Panama’s constitution stipulates that water in the reservoirs must be used first to meet human needs – to supply water, for example, to the approximately 2 million people in the surrounding communities. But the Panama Canal is one of the
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U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Shaping Sustainability
p A low water level in Gatún Lake, Panama, reveals tree stumps in 2015.
USACE participation in the Canal’s Water Projects Program is a high-profile example of its work in building a sustainable future both at home and abroad.
most economically important waterways in the world, handling about 5% of the world’s maritime trade. Disruptions to its operation have far-reaching effects, particularly in the United States, where much of the canal’s traffic either begins or ends. And disruptions have become increasingly common as the climate changes.
The Panama Canal Authority took action to alleviate demand pressures in the short term – suspending hydropower generation, for example, and recycling water in its locks – while continuing with its medium-term reforestation project in the canal basin. But it still faced a longterm problem: The lakes in the canal were rapidly replenished by heavy rains, but the Canal Authority had nowhere to store that surplus water during the dry season.
To solve this long-term problem, canal administrators turned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). In November 2021, the authority signed a contract for consulting and advisory services for its new $2 billion Water
Projects Program, aimed at providing a sustainable long-term balance between the canal’s contribution to human needs –supplying water to communities, for example – and the canal’s economic viability. USACE had lent support to Panama with technical assistance that allowed it to formulate its plan for taking over administration of the canal during the historic 1999 transfer of the Canal Zone from the United States, and has participated in studies, maintenance, and improvements in the waterway since then, including studies of possible water supply alternatives. USACE was an ideal choice as a partner in the program.
The program consists of projects that will supply water to more than half the
population of Panama, as well as for the operation of the canal – a balance that will require studies of sustainability amid climate scenarios and growth projections.
USACE participation in the Canal’s Water Projects Program is a high-profile example of its work in building a sustainable future both at home and abroad. Panama is one of the 100 countries around the world to receive USACE technical assistance through its Interagency and International Support (IIS) program, which is aimed not only at providing services to valued partners and allies: In the case of the Panama Canal, it’s easy to see that creating sustainable solutions for an uncertain future is an effort to bolster the health, well-being, and economic security of local and global communities.
Climate Change’s Far-reaching Impact
Understanding how climate change intersects all USACE mission areas begins with understanding that it’s an agency designed to serve the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense (DOD), which has identified climate change as a critical national security threat. The Pentagon has assigned USACE a leading role in managing the unique climate change risks facing 5,000 DOD locations worldwide – and the department has adapted the Climate Assessment Tool developed by the Corps of Engineers for this very purpose.
According to Christine Altendorf, USACE’s director of Military Programs, these projections are notoriously difficult. “When I worked for Installation Management Command, we had to compare our performance over baseline, and in Alaska, describing how much water you save, how much energy you save – well, so much of that depends on the weather, right?” On paper, her team did great, racking up huge energy savings over the Alaskan winter – but everyone knew those savings were because the winter had been unusually warm. “So how do you truly measure the effect you’re having, and the true
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p As part of the Panama Canal Water Resources Program, a partnership between the Panama Canal Authority and USACE, David Bogema visits the Agua Clara Lock Feb. 4, 2022.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Shaping Sustainability
sustainability value of an installation?”
USACE’s ambitious Sustainable Building Materials pilot program for new barracks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is an example of project management that looks at both the upstream and downstream effects of an installation, and is aimed at the strategic goals of lower energy consumption, water intensity, and carbon emissions.
USACE’s environmental program embraces both these strategic military concerns and the long-term value and benefits of the nation’s water infrastructure. The agency’s Environmental Operating Principles reinforce its roles and responsibilities in the sustainable use, stewardship, and restoration of natural resources – and all decisions, across all programs, are viewed with these principles in mind: USACE work considers not only the environmen-
tal impacts of a project, but ensures that those actions are sustainable into the future, using mechanisms such as the Climate Assessment Tool. “In 10 years, is Fort Hood going to be 5 degrees hotter? And what impact is that going to have on Soldiers when they’re doing their outside training?” asked Altendorf. “What’s going to be the water availability in these areas? We need to look at all of these questions.”
Planning for the Future(s)
When you experience record flooding one year, and record drought three years later,
how do you plan for a sustainable future?
According to Will Veatch, a hydrologist, technical specialist, and acting lead for USACE’s Climate Preparedness and Resilience Community of Practice, you don’t plan for the future – you plan for several futures, within the range of what you might expect to see amid ongoing trends in precipitation, sea level rise, storm frequency, and intensity, and many other variables. USACE uses several sophisticated models to take these into account – and is comparing these models to refine their own projections.
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U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY SENIOR AIRMAN BRITTAIN CROLLEY
p An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 336th Fighter Squadron returns to a runway surrounded by floodwaters at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, after Hurricane Matthew. More than 40 Strike Eagles were repositioned to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, ahead of the hurricane to avoid potential damage from severe weather associated with the storm. The Department of Defense (DOD) has assigned USACE a leading role in managing the unique climate change risks facing 5,000 DOD locations worldwide.
The incorporation of natural and nature-based features in USACE projects was codified by the Corps of Engineers in 2010, when it established its Engineering With Nature (EWN) initiative, which has expanded into a multimission, multisector effort.
“When the Corps designs and constructs a project, it wants to make sure that project is going to do whatever it is that it’s supposed to do, for as long as it is supposed to do it,” said Veatch. “Whether it’s a levee or a dam or a navigation channel or a restored ecosystem, performance and project life cycle can mean different things – but in simplest terms, we want to make sure we are delivering what we said we would, even though we’re uncertain about the future climate conditions.”
Climate change is a difficult variable to plan for, Veatch said, because it’s deeply uncertain. “The range of what’s plausible in the future is very broad. But in the simplest terms, it’s not really that different from other uncertainties” – such as inflation, land-use changes, population shifts, and more. “So we can project a plausible range of future conditions and then we can make sure that whatever it is, we’re planning to do whatever it’s supposed to do in that possible range.”
One of Veatch’s favorite examples of this is the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay project in Queens, New York, one of several coastal storm risk management projects in a planned $52 billion effort to protect the New York harbor region from storms such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which caused $19 billion in damages across New York City alone. The Jamaica Bay project will combine structural- and nature-based solutions – a composite seawall, built inside a sand dune, that will protect against shoreline erosion – but it’s also planned for flexibility, said Veatch. “The authorized project includes two triggers for sea level change.”
The project’s authorization specifies that adjustments will automatically be made – the addition of more structural and natural material, and the modification of access ramps and stairs to the beach – when sea levels reach certain elevations. “By putting it into the authorized project, they don’t have to go back to Congress and get new authority to do this,” Veatch said, “or do another study to determine whether there’s a federal
interest. It’s all authorized and they’ve included the costs and benefits in the analysis.”
Engineering With Nature
This hybrid approach to project design, combining elements of natural and engineered systems, isn’t new to the Corps of Engineers – for example, they’ve long combined their dredging operations with beneficial efforts to restore or create islands that provide wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities, while reducing coastal storm and flood impacts. Since 1978, the New Orleans District has created and maintained more than 1,000 acres of coastal habitat – wetlands and islands – in the Baptiste Collette Bayou navigation channel.
The incorporation of natural and nature-based features in USACE projects
was codified by the Corps of Engineers in 2010, when it established its Engineering With Nature (EWN) initiative, which has expanded into a multimission, multisector effort: At six “proving grounds” throughout USACE districts, engineers and project managers are testing innovative ideas on the ground and documenting what they learn.
One of these proving grounds is in the San Francisco District, where Julie Beagle is the Environmental Planning Section chief. The EWN perspective, she said, considers the multiple types of achievable benefits over a project’s lifetime, instead of focusing narrowly on one particular goal. An obvious example in the district is a levee built in 1949 to control flooding along the Pajaro River, which passes through several low-income agricultural communities and empties
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U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
PHOTO BY CHRIS GARDNER, PUBLIC AFFAIRS
p Bulldozers spread dredged sand on Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. USACE’s Rockaway and Jamaica Bay project will combine structural- and nature-based solutions to protect against shoreline erosion and mitigate the effects of future storms, and has flexibility, including two triggers for sea level change, built into the plan.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Shaping Sustainability
into Monterey Bay. As a flood-control project, it’s never been particularly effective – it provides an eight-year level of flood protection, one of the lowest of California’s federal flood control systems, and the region has suffered several costly – and sometimes tragic – flood events.
Beagle sees the levee structures, placed high and tight alongside the river, as an opportunity to integrate EWN principles. “The idea of integrating Engineering With Nature into this project is that if you set back the levees, and you let the river do what rivers do – which is meander, depos it, scour, move around a little bit more than it does now – it recharges groundwa ter in an overdrawn valley,” she said. “It provides critical habitat for endangered species that live along this river corridor, which is our federal objective. It provides actual flood protection for communities who have not had it – there has been loss of life in that area.” Expanding the floodplain – which will involve buying up some parcels, and securing easements
from farmers – will protect and replenish some of the most productive farmland in the world, and provide additional benefits, such as recreation and water supply. A re configured Pajaro River project is among those funded by the new Bipartisan Infra structure Law.
“If we just do things the same way we’ve been doing them for the last 150 years,” said Beagle, “and just build levees right along the river’s edge – when climate changes come, in California, we’ll have atmospheric rivers that create massive floods. This approach provides more space to absorb that energy, protect people, and provide critical habitat and corridors for the environment. ... It’s more than an economic gain. It’s economic, social, envi ronmental – it’s everything. To me, that’s our responsibility as a federal agency, with big dollars currently targeted to support such approaches.”
Too often, skeptics of nature-based solutions make the mistake of thinking in
t Left: The meandering course of the Pajaro River between hard – and often ineffective – levees, is shown in this aerial photo during a LightHawk mis sion. LightHawk is an organization of volunteer pilots who lend their skills and aircraft to environmental causes. A reconfigured Pajaro River project that incorporates Engineering With Nature concepts is now underway. p Above: USACE and its contractor Barnegat Bay Dredging Company completed a dredg ing and marsh restoration project near Stone Harbor, New Jersey, in December 2018. Work involved dredg ing sediment from the channel of the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway and beneficially using the material to create habitat on marshland owned by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. USACE Commander Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon’s goal is to use a majority of dredged material for beneficial uses.
either/or terms. Courtney Chambers, the research ecologist who serves as the EWN communications lead, says this is a crucial misunderstanding: “We’re not trying to do away with our hard infrastructure by any means,” she said, “but to get more re silient solutions whenever we nest within the landscape – and in many instances, to get better multiple-use outcomes.”
While funded, the Pajaro River reconfiguration project hasn’t yet been constructed, because USACE and its partners are still working on finalizing permits and engineering designs. In the past, this project had suffered because a
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PHOTO BY JOANNE CASTAGNA
PHOTO BY JITZE COUPERUS
Julie Beagle, USACE Environmental Planning Section Chief
pure cost-benefit analysis ignored other necessary variables. “What are knowns as ecosystem services, such as groundwater recharge, habitat corridors, carbon sequestration – none of that had been accounted for,” Beagle said. “But I think with this new funding, and with our new approach to looking at multiple benefits of projects, that’s how we can get this done.”
To compose a new way of calculating the long-term costs and benefits of a project will require innovation; rapidly evolving global circumstances demand new ways of thinking about problems and projects. In the San Francisco Dis trict, Beagle and her EWN colleagues are experimenting with an approach that’s been tried in the Netherlands, but not yet in the San Francisco Bay: strategic shallow-water placement of dredge material. USACE has replenished
many drowning or eroding wetlands and marshes around the shores of the bay over the years using “direct placement” techniques, but the cost of direct place ment and physical constraints of reach ing certain areas have proven challeng ing. “What we’re doing is taking a certain amount of sediment that’s dredged from a channel in the bay,” Beagle said, “and we’re dropping it in the shallow subtidal waters, and then we’re monitoring the ability of waves and tides, and potentially storms, to move that material and depos it it on the mudflats and marshes. So, it’s essentially mimicking a natural process of a storm delivery, which feeds marshes and mudflats over time, and it’s what we know our marshes and mudflats need to keep pace with sea level rise.”
If the San Francisco proving ground can figure out a way to use natural processes to
reseed marshes and wetlands, it may be a significant step toward USACE Command er Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon’s goal of turning the Corps of Engineers’ current approach to using dredged material – using 30% for beneficial uses, and disposing of the other 70% – on its head. Ultimately, Beagle would like to see USACE use 100% of its suitable dredged material for beneficial purposes –but she’d be OK with 70%, for now.
“Nature has a huge role to play in climate adaptation,” said Beagle. “And for the Corps to remain the nation’s engineers, nature-based solutions are going to be a major part of how we do business mov ing forward, because of all the benefits it provides. Our future solutions are going to be a combination of green and gray infrastructure. If you’re only thinking gray, you’re missing out on a ton of the available options.” AE
“The idea of integrating Engineering With Nature into this project is that if you set back the lev ees, and you let the river do what rivers do – which is meander, deposit, scour, move around a little bit more than it does now – it recharges groundwater in an overdrawn valley.”
habitat for increasing their populations this spring and those to follow.
Because placing the dredged material on Crab Bank was not the least cost-placement method, a non-federal sponsor was needed to make the concept a reality. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) stepped up to fill that role and share in the costs of the project. If not for its commitment and our partnership together, this sandy material would have wound up sequestered in the ocean placement site and this seabird sanctuary lost for good.
Although the actual construction only took a few weeks, the idea came about years ago when the Post 45 project delivery team was trying to identify potential projects to maximize the beneficial use of the available sandy dredged material from the harbor deepening. Crab Bank rose to the top.
Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary: A Landmark Legacy
The project is a landmark legacy of Post 45 because the rest of the $550 million deepening project is underwater and that massive investment is not visible to the public. In the case of
BY GLENN JEFFRIES
Crab Bank, it has now become a feature of the Charleston Harbor that can easily be seen and noticed from as far as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Beneficially using material from the deepened channel restored 32 acres of prime nesting grounds, giving shorebirds and seabirds much-needed
“Nine years ago, Crab Bank was just a concept; three years ago SCDNR stepped up to make it a reality, and this spring it becomes vital habitat and nesting grounds for shorebirds. It is rare in an engineer’s career to see a project from concept to completion. Seeing this to completion is very rewarding,” said Brian Williams, one of the project managers.
Approximately 660,000 cubic yards, or 66,000 dump truck loads (one dump truck carries about 10 cubic yards), of material created the crescent-shaped footprint, which can be seen from the Ravenel Bridge, Alhambra Hall, or other waterfront spots on the harbor side of Mount Pleasant.
“The work is fascinating to see,” said Jeff Livasy, project manager. “The hydraulic cutterhead suction dredge sucks up the material from the channel floor, similar to a vacuum cleaner, and it is pumped onto the island through various types of pipe. Once the material is on the island, bulldozers begin shaping the material.”
“This is a little different than a beach renourishment project,” said Chip Forbes, the field engineer for Norfolk Dredging Company, the contractor working for the district. “We usually have our guys smooth out the sand perfectly, so it is flat and even terrain, but in this case, the birds do
BY ADAM BOOZER
SHAPING SUSTAINABILITY Charleston District 46 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
An aerial photo of Crab Bank, taken on Sept. 14, 2021.
A dredge, appropriately named Dredge Charleston, a daily crew of 53 workers, and heavy earth-moving equipment worked 24 hours a day for seven weeks constructing a landmark legacy of the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening project: the restoration of Crab Bank. Crab Bank is a bird sanctuary located in the Charleston Harbor near the shoreline of the Old Village in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
BY JACKIE PENNOYER
not want that. Different birds like different terrain so this has been fun creating something with lumps, bumps, and some flat surfaces.”
The natural isolation of the island keeps the birds and nests safe from predators. Over 15 different species of bird have been spotted nesting on the island in previous years. The number of shorebirds and seabirds’ nests are declining each year,” said Janet Thibault, a wildlife biologist for SCDNR. “Having places for them to have refuge is really important. Around March or April, the birds will come back, find mates,
and build nests. So, I’m just really excited to see this project happening.”
This one-time placement of material could have as much as a 50-year life span, but in such a dynamic environment, we know the footprint will be reduced and change each year. Mother Nature will play a large role in the life of Crab Bank. SCDNR will monitor the island each season with special cameras. This live webcam will also allow the public to view the island’s inhabitants in real time.
On April 5, as the shorebird nesting season was underway, organizations who had worked tirelessly to re-establish the
t Left: Representatives from South Carolina’s government, USACE’s Charleston District, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources prepare to cut the ribbon marking the completion of the Crab Bank restoration project. qBelow: Dredged material from the Charleston Harbor deepening project is added to Crab Bank, a 32-acre site of prime nesting habitat for many coastal birds. Prior to 2017, nearly 4,000 nests could be found in a single summer along with thousands of offspring. The island also provided rest and nourishment for hundreds of migrating shorebirds. But wind and waves took a toll on this unique resource, and Crab Bank was reduced to a tiny fraction of its original size. In 2017, Hurricane Irma washed away most of the remaining high ground, removing any opportunity for nesting birds.
depleted island gathered at Alhambra Hall to celebrate a return of threatened birds to the island’s ideal nesting ground.
Gov. Henry McMaster was in attendance for the ceremony. He spoke about how Crab Bank is a great example of how multiple agencies can work together for a common goal.
“This really is a great thing,” said McMaster. “It could not have been done without a lot of people cooperating with each other and understanding how important the environment is to us.”
Some refer to the many coastal islands of South Carolina as our own “Galápagos,” and the re-establishment of Crab Bank adds one more island for thousands of shorebirds to use as safe place to rest, lay, and hatch their young. Prior to it being washed away by coastal storms over the last decade, the island was where thousands hatch, are nurtured, and spread their wings as they learn to fly. At night, species from as far away as the tip of South America stop for the night to rest before they continue to points as far north as the Arctic Circle.
“Crab Bank has now become a feature of the Charleston Harbor that can easily be seen and noticed from as far as the Ravenel Bridge,” said Lisa Metheney, senior civilian with USACE’s Charleston District. “Every time I drive over the bridge, I beam with pride, thinking about the fantastic work my team did to get here.” AE
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PHOTO BY JACKIE PENNOYER
USACE Promotes Sustainable Construction Practices on Last Frontier
Each year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Alaska District constructs projects for the military valued in the millions of dollars to support readiness, training, and quality-of-life initiatives for service members in the far north. For each of these endeavors, the agency works to meet sustainability goals by ensuring the construction practices and new facilities are as energy efficient as possible.
“It’s a good practice,” said Jerry Ouzts, sustainable program engineer at the district. “It’s good for us, it’s good for the military community, and it’s good for the environment.”
Since 2006, the Army has mandated that its facilities meet the environmentally friendly standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental
BY RACHEL NAPOLITAN
Design (LEED®) rating system. The third-party certification program provides a framework and validates compliance with specific requirements for sustainability from design to construction to operation of new facilities or the remodeling of older buildings. Over the last 10 years, the district has certified 42 buildings through the model.
“We were already doing a lot of these practices, but the formal program simplifies and documents it now,” said
t Left: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Alaska District achieved the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold rating on the 354th Operations Support Squadron’s F-35A weapons intelligence facility at Eielson Air Force Base. USACE uses LEED to ensure sustainable construction of military projects as it promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by providing a framework for the design, construction, and operation of facilities. p Above: The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design plaque is displayed in the entryway of the F-35 Flight Simulator Center on Eielson Air Force Base. USACE’s Alaska District constructs military facilities to meet the standards of the program at the silver level using sustainable construction practices.
Monica Velasco, chief of the Construction Branch. “When we first started, it was a new system and large effort [went in]to really mak[ing] sure we implemented it correctly. As the years have progressed, it has become part of what we do naturally.”
The U.S. Green Building Council recognizes the degree of achievement in sustainable design and construction practices by assigning a LEED rating to each facility. Projects are categorized into four levels: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. For new construction, USACE buildings must at least meet the silver level.
“Programs like LEED help us do the right thing from day one of a project and ensure the new facility meets energy and sustainability requirements,” Ouzts said.
48 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS SHAPING SUSTAINABILITY Alaska District
COURTESY PHOTO COURTESY PHOTO
SHAPING SUSTAINABILITY Alaska District
t Workers engage in construction activities for a satellite dining facility, Sept. 20, 2019, at Eielson Air Force Base. The Alaska District delivered the project in support of the installation’s F-35A aircraft beddown program. It is the latest district-built facility to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED silver certification for its sustainable design and construction practices, that include factors like site selection, waste reduction, recycled products, and more.
“Anytime there’s a strong smell of paint or solvent, it’s not low emitting,” Ouzts said.
This practice is no more evident than in the district’s delivery of the F-35A bed-down program at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Construction began in 2017 to support the arrival of two new F-35A aircraft squadrons along with assigned airmen and their families.
So far, one project achieved LEED gold, nine earned silver, and one, a remodel of an existing facility, secured a certified rating. Another three buildings accomplished certification under the Green Building Initiative’s Guiding Principles, which is the Air Force’s new preferred model for authenticating environmentally friendly building practices.
Velasco highlighted the effort of the Alaska District to simplify the requirements for contractors to make it a part of standard operations.
“We have embedded the requirements into our process, so it is something our contractors just do now,” she said.
Strong working relationships with the construction industry and shared expectations for project delivery are critical to the successful execution of sustainable building practices. Velasco also pointed to the importance of including the need for a LEED-accredited professional, someone with expertise in green building and the rating system, in the initial contract. In addition, the project delivery team must ensure that the facility earns certification credits in key areas like site selection and waste management.
The Alaska District uses sustainable practices to avoid the depletion of natural resources and minimize the impact on future generations, while meeting the needs of today’s military. From the beginning of a project, site selection ensures that a green approach is factored into construction.
“We need to be smart about where we are building buildings,” Ouzts said.
To do this, the district looks at the full life cycle cost of using land, minimizing the footprint of buildings, and leveraging existing space in previously developed areas.
“Waste management stands out because people ask how we are going to decrease waste,” Velasco said. “If you need a stud, we encourage contractors to buy the right length instead of cutting a larger piece of wood and having the excess go in the landfill.”
They also try to minimize negative impacts on air quality by preventing the accumulation of dust inside facilities during construction.
“A lot of the dust prevention has to do with ventilation systems in the new buildings,” Ouzts said. “If dust from the construction work gets into the system initially, it blows all over and into the air. Keeping sites clean as we go prevents the issue.”
Additionally, they address air-quality concerns by incorporating low-emitting materials like paint and composite wood to further ensure LEED certification for the facility. And, it is easy to tell if a site is using low-emitting products.
Materials used for construction are sourced locally whenever possible. Insulation, concrete, and gravel are often acquired from local companies to cut down on the emissions used to transport the supplies by barge, plane, or truck from the lower 48 states. Contractors also use recycled building products like sheetrock and metal where feasible.
Every aspect of the decision-making process for design choices and product selection is based on sustainable standards. Examples include everything from separate light switches that conserve energy, to enclosed janitor closets that prevent fumes from entering the building, to low-flow toilets that save water, to energy-efficient windows that retain heat. This focus reflects the district’s commitment to investing in enduring solutions that benefit both people and the environment.
“The more we reduce our energy consumption, the less we have to use; the less we have to use, the less we need,” Ouzts said.
Though implementing this in construction can be more expensive up front, it helps with the long-term costs of maintaining a building by keeping energy costs down and operations efficient.
“LEED is specific to construction, but sustainability touches everything we do,” Ouzts said. “Even in our everyday lives, we can support some piece of it in ways like choosing to use duplex [double-sided] printing and participating in recycling programs.”
Other suggestions included turning off the lights, adding a recycle bin to your desk or house, and finding small elements across everything you do to be a little more environmentally conscience. AE
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Creating a Sustainable Habitat for Local Pollinators
In recent years, there has been a strong decline in pollinator populations across the region. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds support a healthy ecosystem that is vital for the survival of several animal and plant species. These pollinators feed on the nectar from flowering plants and distribute pollen to the next flower, fertilizing the plants. Without the help of pollinators, fertilization doesn’t happen since most plants do not fertilize themselves.
Bees and other animal pollinators face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators. Pollinators that can’t find the right quantity or quality of food don’t survive. Right now, there simply aren’t enough pollina tor-friendly plantings to support pollinators.
The federal government has acted through the “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators” plan and this includes the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE] Pollinator Protection Plan.” The “USACE Pollinator Protection Plan” stipulates the increase of awareness and edu cation and the incorporation of conservation and best management practices for pollinator health on the lands and waters that it manag es as appropriate.
In the Tulsa District, several projects are incorporating habitat restoration in their daily operations by planting pollinator fields throughout their projects to support and
BY TIFFANY NATIVIDAD
increase pollinator populations in the area. These include Kaw Lake, Oolagah Lake, Keystone Lake, and Fort Gibson Lake. These are located in Tulsa District’s eastern and northern areas of operation.
At Kaw Lake, work began a few years ago when Lake Manager Peat Robinson and Assis tance Lake Manager Dakota Allison developed a partnership with Phillips 66 and accom plished various projects around the lake.
“One project was the pollinator fields that were established by their overlook and Osage cove area,” said Raef Perryman, an environ mental specialist for the northern area. “In total, they have developed approximately 8 acres of wildflower fields.”
Oolagah Lake staff is currently in its second year of managing pollinator fields. Native wildflower seed was planted to provide ideal habitat for pollinators during different months of the year. “This year we planted 11 acres of pollinator fields, which were funded by IIJA [the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2022]. We used a native wildflower seed mix for all the fields,” said Eric Bonnell, Oolagah Lake manager. “Last year we planted about
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3 acres, which included a fall food plot of crimson clover. The crimson clover serves as a food source for wildlife and blooms in the spring to create prime pollinators.”
The seed mix used this year takes about two-three years to become a mature pollinator field and will be tracked yearly for progress.
Fort Gibson Lake noticed the demand for local habitat restoration and began planning for pollinator plots on its project. This plan began back in 2020 and employees have now
successfully planted more than 7 acres of pollinator fields at one of their public use areas.
“These fields will not only help in supplying suitable habitat for pollinators, but they are also a great educational tool for people visiting our project,” said Gregg Moydell, a natural resources specialist. Fort Gibson Lake staff is currently working on securing interpretive signage to place around these fields for visitors to learn about the importance of maintaining the natural state of wildlife habitat.
t Bumblebee in action, enjoying the flowers at one of the pollinator fields on Oolagah Lake, Oklahoma.
Fort Gibson Lake has also started a new project and has partnered with local Boy Scout groups to build and install bat houses around the project. “We are hoping that with installing bat houses near the new pollinator fields, we will have ... more accessibility to suitable habitat for bats,” said natural resources specialist Joshua Glazebrook.
Many people hear the word pollinator and think of bees, but there are several different species of pollinators that these projects are helping. Not only will the habitat restoration help the bees, but restoring these habitats will also aid in the current decline of bat, butterfly, and bird populations in the area.
The USACE Plan goal is to restore or enhance millions of acres of land through federal actions and public and private partnerships. The Tulsa District manages more than 1 million acres of land and water with more than 90% of the land being managed for wildlife. District project staff are working diligently to achieve that goal one habitat at a time. AE
Sustaining a Future by Engineering with Nature
Environmental management is a primary mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Accounting for the natural environment around us is a key component of San Francisco District’s (SPN) strategic objectives, and we continue to promote engineering with nature for long-term sustainability and benefits, and resilience of project solutions.
What we refer to as engineering with nature (EWN) is the “intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to deliver
BY ISABEL NIEMAN
economic, environmental and social benefits efficiently and sustainably through collaboration. By combining science and engineering, USACE has been able to produce operational efficiencies that are actively reducing demands on finite
resources, minimizing the ecological footprint of projects and enhancing the quality of project benefits.” Or, more simply put, the district is learning to work with nature to better define its projects, save money, and have long-term benefits.
BY ERIC BONNELL
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SHAPING SUSTAINABILITY Tulsa District
SHAPING SUSTAINABILITY San Francisco District
BY CHUCK INGRAHAM PHOTO BY BRANDON BEACH
p Above: Alcoves at Dry Creek near Healdsburg, California, help slow creek flows for migrating salmon. Engineers utilize logs and root wads to create areas for fish to safely spawn. u Right: Construction crews work to drive a log into the ground at the Dry Creek Restoration Project site near Healdsburg, California. The ecosystem restoration project will help restore habitat for endangered salmon and other fish native to the lower Dry Creek watershed. USACE’s San Francisco District has partnered with Sonoma Water on the project.
San Francisco is one of six proving ground districts in USACE that applies EWN, along with the Mobile, St. Louis, Galveston, Buffalo, and Philadelphia districts. Of these, SPN is the only one operating on the West Coast.
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center defines an EWN proving ground as a “district committed to broad integration of EWN principles and practices into all business lines. Proving grounds are places where innovative ideas are tested on the ground, throughout USACE processes, and through new research and innovation. Districts [that] become proving grounds will document processes, milestones, and lessons learned in the implementation of EWN measures so others can learn from their experience.”
Restoring Dry Creek’s habitat in Sonoma, California, is an ongoing SPN project that is an example of how successful EWN can be when organizations build on first understanding, then deliberately work with nature to accom plish its goals.
The overall effort entails repairing and enhancing 6 miles of Dry Creek habitat to improve living conditions for local endan gered coho salmon, a keystone species, and the threatened steelhead trout. Dry Creek’s cool, clear water is perfect for salmon and steelhead, but juvenile fish cannot survive because the water runs too quickly, and the territory is rapidly changing. Young coho salmon and steelhead trout now have proper shelter and hiding places in Dry Creek thanks to Sonoma Water, USACE, and McCullough Construction, Inc.
USACE and its partners are combating this issue by constructing alcoves, riffles (i.e., small rapids that increase the ratio of dissolved oxygen in the water), backwaters, and side channels that slow the flow of water and provide a safe haven for young
fish. Natural resources like logs and rocks are used to create the side channels to give fish places to escape high flows. Bank sta bilization lessens excessive erosion, while anchored boulders produce riffles, and secured log jams provide refuge and slow the water. The reintroduction of native flora around the creek is also used for erosion control and shade.
One of the team’s long-term biologists, Ellie Covington, reported that there is dis tinct evidence of tracked salmon and trout returning to restored areas of Dry Creek to spawn and raise juvenile fish ever since the new features were constructed. This finding would not have been possible without base line designs that unite science and engineer ing to establish stable plans to enhance the creek’s ecology.
“When it comes to integrating engineering with nature into our district’s projects, we must remember where we are and the mas sive geographic space we work in to assist the natural environment while being considerate of the adjacent communities,” Covington said. “We prioritize bettering habitats and the surrounding area, and when we see success, it provides momentum to stay motivated because even seemingly small projects can be daunting but are equally meaningful.”
Back in 2014, the local community and the district saw the completion of the first mile of Dry Creek rehabilitation, which included logs, boulders, and hundreds of native plants. By the end of the project, the 14-mile-long creek will have 6 miles of habitat rebuilt into it.
“Our leadership here at SPN is continually supportive of our environmental research and restoration, and I believe that is a large reason as to why we maintain the rank as one of the top proving grounds within the USACE,” Covington noted. AE
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t Aerial rendering of what the proposed Ring Barrier System – part of the larger Coastal Texas Program –would look like.
in creating information products that included 3D renderings and various printed materials to visually tell the story in a graphic manner.
The study team engaged the public through a variety of mediums to transparently communicate the scope and scale of the team’s recommended plan to the local communities. The team established a website (https://www. coastalstudy.texas.gov) solely dedicated to the study that included project history, fact sheets, study time lines, meeting information, and project storyboards. Utilizing contract support, the team agreed on a set of engagement rules, supporting website content, and printed materials to ensure consistency. These efforts allow the public to have a more comprehensive understanding of the study.
Texas Coastal Study
The more than 100-person study team is led by a multi-discipline staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in partnership with staff from the Texas General Land Office (GLO), and collaboration with subject-matter experts and engineering, environmental, and public outreach consultants from across the region.
The Coastal Texas Study identifies coastal storm risk management measures that protect the health and safety of Texas coastal communities by reducing the risk of storm damage to industries and businesses critical to the nation’s economy while simultaneously addressing critical coastal ecosystems in need
BY MELANIE ELLIS
The Coastal Texas Study was authorized in 2007 to identify and evaluate a comprehensive plan for the restoration and conservation of wetlands, barrier islands, shorelines, and related lands and features that protect critical resources, habitat, and infrastructure from the impacts of coastal storms, erosion, and subsidence.
In 2015, the GLO was identified as the non-federal sponsor and funding to initiate the study was received. With such an expansive study underway, the team solicited a contractor to assist the with communications and to develop a strategy for expansive, effective public outreach to fully engage with the public. The contractor also assisted the team
To ensure consistent delivery of information, the team created an introductory video shown at each public meeting that guided participants through the overall study, status of the study, and commenting process. During the project delivery effort, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the study team to adapt its outreach efforts.
The first step was to develop a GIS-based “Story Map” that used Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) technology to animate the complicated concepts discussed in the recommended plan, thus allowing the public to: 1) see the difference in flooding the project could make in the Houston and Galveston areas; 2) experience a virtual landscape with the proposed beach and dune systems in place; and 3) examine potential environmental impacts and review our proposed mitigation plan (https://coastal-texas-hub-usace-swg. hub.arcgis.com/). The team then hosted a series of Q&A sessions utilizing the story maps to engage the public and convey the benefits and costs of the proposed plan.
To set a standard of transparent communications and build trust with the community, the virtual meetings were hosted at recurring times, using the same meeting platform, and offering a standard contact number. This ensured the community knew when and where to receive information and were given the
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The Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study, also known as the Coastal Texas Study, proposes innovative engineering solutions to ensure long-term resilience of the entire Texas coast.
BY MELANIE ELLIS
opportunity to provide feedback and engage with the team one on one. Using a trained communications contractor to facilitate the meetings allowed the study team to focus on engaging with the public and ensured all participants had a solid understanding of the project and the path forward.
opportunity to provide feedback and engage with the team one on one. Using a trained communications contractor to facilitate the meetings allowed the study team to focus on engaging with the public and ensured all participants had a solid understanding of the project and the path forward.
Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general and 55th U.S. Army chief of engineers, signed the Chief’s Report for the “Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study” (the Coastal Texas Study) on Sept. 16, 2021. The report was a compila tion of USACE and GLO, based on public input.
Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general and 55th U.S. Army chief of engineers, signed the Chief’s Report for the “Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study” (the Coastal Texas Study) on Sept. 16, 2021. The report was a compila tion of USACE and GLO, based on public input.
Over the summer of 2022, legislators introduced the Texas Coastal Spine Authori zation Act, which passed in the U.S. Senate on July 28, to make coastal Texas eligible for construction. The U.S. House of Representa tives is in the midst of passing its own version of the act, and once it does, legislators will work to secure funding for the project and thenbeginconstruction. AE
Over the summer of 2022, legislators introduced the Texas Coastal Spine Authori zation Act, which passed in the U.S. Senate on July 28, to make coastal Texas eligible for construction. The U.S. House of Representa tives is in the midst of passing its own version of the act, and once it does, legislators will work to secure funding for the project and then begin construction. AE
p Top: Renderings with details of what the proposed Coastal Texas Ring Barrier system would look like.
Left and Right: District Office with and without project improvements: A demonstration of the Story Map feature showing the impacts of a 100-year flood with and without project improvements. Site visitors can plug in their address and see the impacts to their property and surrounding areas.
p Top: Renderings with details of what the proposed Coastal Texas Ring Barrier system would look like. Left and Right: District Office with and without project improvements: A demonstration of the Story Map feature showing the impacts of a 100-year flood with and without project improvements. Site visitors can plug in their address and see the impacts to their property and surrounding areas.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Modernizing Water Infrastructure
Modernizing the Nation’s Water Infrastructure
If you follow the elevation of the Mississippi River from year to year, the fall of 2022 might have given you whiplash:
• A fter the Mississippi River Basin endured a season of record precipitation, beginning in late 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) launched a protracted effort to manage the river’s flood waters and protect communities across the entire valley –which drains a third of the continental United States and two Canadian provinces. For six months, the basin received up to twice its normal amount of rain; for much of the Midwest, it was the wettest six months ever recorded. The river was above flood stage for 226 consecutive days, the longest period in recorded history. For the first time since it was built in 1931, the Bonnet Carré Spillway in New Orleans’ St. Charles Parish was opened in back-toback years – and USACE made history again in May 2019, when it opened the structure for the second time in the same year, to relieve pressure on the upstream levees and prevent flooding in southeast Louisiana.
• T wo years later, a hot, dry summer lowered the Mississippi River to record levels in many areas – in mid-October, it was 11 feet below normal at the city of Memphis. Cargo barges were getting stuck on sandbars and forced to reduce their cargo, disrupting a critical shipping route from northern Minnesota to Louisiana – not to mention tributaries throughout the basin, such as the
BY CRAIG COLLINS
56 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY IMAGE
p Backed-up barges on a parched Mississippi River north of Vicksburg. At times, up to 2,000 barges and towboats waited to proceed at various chokepoints due to barge groundings and low water. USACE carried out emergency dredging operations to re-open the channel.
USACE PHOTO BY SABRINA DALTON
For the first time since it was built in 1931, the Bonnet Carré Spillway in New Orleans’ St. Charles Parish was opened in back-to-back years – and USACE made history again in May 2019, when it opened the structure for the second time in the same year, to relieve pressure on the upstream levees and prevent flooding in southeast Louisiana.
p Above: Tower Rock, a 400 million-year-old limestone formation normally lying in the middle of the Misssissippi River in Perry County, Missouri, is now accessible by foot due to historically low water levels. Note the people surrounding the rock formation, which has become a popular tourist destination. t Left: Onlookers observe high floodwaters at the Bonnet Carré spillway, May 9, 2011.
Missouri and Ohio rivers. The costs of shipping – by river, rail, and truck –skyrocketed. The Corps of Engineers launched emergency dredging operations at choke points along the river, where about 2,000 barges were backed up, waiting for a clear channel. On the Louisiana coast, the river was so low that Gulf of Mexico saltwater began creeping upstream, leading Plaquemines Parish to issue a drinking water advisory. USACE responded by beginning construction of a 1,500-foot-wide underwater levee, or
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U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Modernizing Water Infrastructure
“sill,” near the town of Myrtle Grove, to prevent the denser saltwater from pushing upriver.
The Mississippi is one of the world’s most valuable waterways. More than 90% of the nation’s agricultural exports are produced in the Mississippi River Basin, and, according to the National Park Service, nearly 80% of the world’s feed grain and soybean exports. More than 500 million tons of freight, valued at $130 billion, travels down the river every year. In a normal year, USACE estimates that use of the Mississippi as a waterway saves $12.5 billion in transportation costs.
At least two of the last four years have been far from normal on the Mississippi – one of the many variables USACE is weighing as it begins to decide how it will execute a historic program of modernizing the nation’s water infrastructure.
The IIJA and the Value – and Vulnerability – of Water Resources
Protecting the commercial supply chain on one of the world’s most extensive waterway systems – nearly half of all consumer goods pass through harbors maintained by USACE, and the Corps of Engineers is constantly collecting, analyzing, and sharing critical data on the use and condition of these ports and waterways – is just one of the ways in which USACE contributes to the nation’s safety, security, and economic prosperity. Through its management of the nation’s water resources, it also fulfills several other missions: flood risk protection (from 2010 to 2019, its projects prevented an annual average of $138 billion in flood damages), coastal storm damage reduction, hydropower, recreation, water supply, and more.
In November 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) into law, it was the latest expansion of a Civil Works portfolio that has more than doubled over the last decade. Several
supplemental laws have authorized USACE, sometimes in the wake of severe storms and other natural disasters, to undertake short-term repairs of water infrastructure, along with investing in the long-term resilience of impacted projects.
Overnight, the IIJA added the equivalent of multiple years of USACE appropriations, including:
• $11.6 billion in construction funding;
• $ 4 billion for operations and maintenance – including the repair of disaster-caused damages; and
• $ 808 million specifically for projects on the Mississippi River and tributaries.
The law required the Corps of Engineers to devise plans for spending this new funding, and it responded with plans that offered a glimpse of its strategy for modernizing the nation’s multi-use water infrastructure in an era of unprecedented volatility and uncertainty. So far, USACE has announced a multibillion-dollar investment in more than 300 new waterway projects with IIJA funding – projects that will:
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PHOTO BY LEON ROBERTS
p USACE’s Nashville District and contractor Johnson Brothers place the final concrete shell on the riverbed of the Tennessee River Feb. 2, 2020, below Kentucky Lock in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. It was the 10th concrete shell that is part of the permanent downstream lock wall and will double as part of a coffer dam for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project.
Overnight, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act added the equivalent of multiple years of USACE appropriations.
p Above: Trade West Inc., of Nevada removes the last rock from the New Lock at the Soo upstream channel deepening project in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. u Right: USACE’s Lock and Dam 15, on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS). The Corps of Engineers’ Tulsa District operates and maintains five locks and dams on its 137-mile portion of the MKARNS.
STRENGTHEN PORTS, WATERWAYS, AND DOMESTIC SUPPLY CHAINS –moving more goods faster, at the nation’s fastest-growing ports; and reducing congestion on inland waterways. Investments include:
• More than $1 billion for the third phase of construction at the New Lock at the Soo, connecting Lake Huron and Lake Superior at Sault St. Marie, Michigan;
• $72 million to widen and deepen the federal navigation channel at Norfolk Harbor, Virginia;
• $ 465 million to complete the Kentucky Lock and Dam Project on the Tennessee River near Gilbertsville, Kentucky – where the incomplete lock now creates one of the longest shipping delays in the country, hindering the passage of more than $5 billion in commodities that flow through the lock every year;
• $77 million toward the construction of new lock chambers at the Emsworth Locks and Dams, on the upper Ohio River just downstream of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and
• $92.6 million toward upgrading the locks of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), which accommodates 12 million tons of agricultural commerce annually
and provides flood control for river communities in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
INCREASE CLIMATE RESILIENCE, including the reduction of coastal and inland flood risk, and the restoration of aquatic ecosystems. Investments include:
• more than $1 billion to the South Florida (Everglades) Ecosystem Restoration Plan;
• $350 million to Adams and Denver counties, Colorado, for flood risk reduction and ecosystem restoration along 6.5 miles of the Platte River’s riparian habitat;
• $3 8 million to mitigate the impacts of dam projects on the runs of anadromous fish species – salmon and
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PHOTO BY PRESTON CHASTEEN
PHOTO BY CARRIE FOX
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Modernizing Water Infrastructure
steelhead – in the Columbia River Basin, including new and improved fishways and bypasses, habitat restoration, juvenile fish transportation, culvert removal, new and expanded hatcheries, research, and more;
• $77 million for the Mississippi Coast Improvements Program (MSCIP), to restore barrier islands and increase resilience to future storm events, prevent saltwater intrusion and shoreline erosion, and preserve fish and wildlife habitat;
• $150 million for floodwalls, storm surge barriers, levees, pump stations, and non-structural measures to reduce threats of storm surge and sea level rise to the city of Norfolk, Virginia;
• $221 million for a comprehensive flood damage reduction plan for the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi; and
• $60.6 million to assist with flood damage reduction in the storm-ravaged areas of Rio Guayanilla, one of Puerto Rico’s most flood-prone areas.
ADVANCE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, in line with the goal of the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative: To confer 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments on communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. Investments include:
• $67 million to reduce flood risk communities along California’s Pajaro River and in surrounding agricultural lands, where flooding has caused loss of life and economic harm;
• $2.2 million for the design of a system to restore and protect 958 acres of riparian habitat in New Mexico’s Española Valley, a critical stretch of the Rio Grande, and a region of cultural importance to indigenous communities; and
• $115 million to the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Hurricane Protection Project, to reduce storm surge risk in the
low-lying communities of Cameron, Calcasieu, and Vermilion parishes, which are identified as disadvantaged and have suffered greatly from the impacts of climate change.
In addition to the IIJA, USACE was authorized to invest $5.7 billion in supplemental funds from disaster relief legislation in 2022, including:
• $100 million for studies of proposed projects in the four states that suffered the most damage from Hurricane Ida in 2021: Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania;
• $3 billion for the construction of qualifying flood and storm damage reduction projects; and
• $868 million for the rehabilitation and repair of projects along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
What “Modern” Means
As David Pittman, Ph.D., director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), points out, USACE responsible for executing this ambitious modernization effort is fundamentally the same Corps of Engineers that existed five years ago, when its budget was less than half its current level. “Our workforce has remained essentially the same,” he said. USACE will rely heavily on its partners, said Pittman – “but also, the need to innovate is increasing. Our chief of engineers is telling us we can’t keep doing things in the same old ways.”
Nobody agrees with this more strongly than Edward E. Belk, USACE’s director of Civil Works. To execute this big workload, Belk said, the Corps of Engineers has implemented several initiatives aimed at accelerating project delivery. One initiative is aimed at improving the way USACE monitors its performance using data analytics. By relying on public-private partnerships (P3) as an alternative project delivery method, USACE has so far saved about 20 years of project time and $450 million in federal dollars. “The P3
program represents a new era in community-based infrastructure investment,” said Belk, “as we look beyond traditional delivery methods.”
Belk has plans for USACE’s people, too, amid such sweeping change: “We are at a critical moment in our history with a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s civil works infrastructure,” he said. “We need our diverse, talented, and agile workforce to ensure we can execute this historic workload.” USACE has launched an aggressive recruitment effort aimed at securing the talent necessary to deliver these large, technically complex programs. “Multi-functional teams and partnerships are key to safely delivering quality projects on time and within budget,” said Belk. “A diverse world-class workforce is absolutely essential if we are to meet the needs of our nation.”
In USACE’s plans to invest these large funding infusions, there is a recognition that more isn’t necessarily better – that climate change, social and economic inequality, and other variables demand much wisdom in the allocation of often scarce resources. In coastal regions, where sea level rise has made infrastructure more subject to corrosion from saltwater intrusion, for example, traditional surface coatings simply aren’t as durable as they once were. The military alone spends more than $20 billion annually fighting corrosion. USACE’s Paint Technology Center of Expertise, at its Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), was initially established primarily to research how to prevent corrosion at its locks and dams, but its work has since expanded to include coatings that will help reduce energy consumption at facilities – to the point of perhaps even harvesting energy with embedded solar cells. It’s a simple idea – how a project is coated can affect its useful lifetime; and its consumption of energy – with far-reaching implications.
A modern water infrastructure will be one whose design, construction, and
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operation will minimize demands on, and optimize the use of, resources that – as the last five years on the Mississippi have shown – are more prone to cycling rapidly between shortage and abundance. A major area of study for USACE researchers is Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operation, or FIRO. Pittman explains FIRO in this way: “Reservoirs on rivers are typically operated with something called water control manuals,” he said, “which rely on data sets and tables, elevation probability curves, and other tools, to guide the operator.”
In the western United States, these manuals don’t typically consider the impacts of atmospheric rivers – narrow bands of concentrated moisture, thousands of miles long and hundreds of miles wide, that dump heavy rainfall
and are becoming more intense with climate change. Atmospheric rivers cause most of the economic losses associated with flooding in the West.
“It’s a balancing act,” said Pittman. “If you let too much water out of the reservoir, it drops the lake level to the point where maybe you can’t do recreation, or you’ve decreased your water supply. You might flood downstream if you let too much water out at once. On the flip side, if you don’t let enough water out, and then an atmospheric river hits, you’re going to flood upstream, right? You might overtop
the dam. So, it’s a delicate balance, to meet all the requirements of that reservoir.”
Atmospheric rivers’ intense bursts of rain account for 25% to 50% of annual precipitation in some regions of the West, but because of the flood risk, these bursts haven’t been harnessed to replenish water supply.
ERDC researchers are working with scientists at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute at the University of CaliforniaSan Diego to develop FIRO – not only to reduce flood risks, but also to optimize the retention and delivery of water to communities. FIRO uses data from
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CORPS OF ENGINEERS
PHOTO BY BRIGIDA I. SANCHEZ
p U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel discuss the beginnings of the programmatic execution of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) contract 1 in 2021. The CEPP will identify and plan projects on land already in public ownership to allow more water to be directed south to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park, and Florida Bay.
Without building anything new, or spending more dollars, USACE and its partners have figured out how to increase water supplies to communities facing greater uncertainty.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Modernizing Water Infrastructure
watershed monitoring, and weather and hydrologic forecasting methods drawn specifically from the study of atmospheric rivers, to help water managers selectively retain or release water from reservoirs.
A 2021 pilot project at California’s Prado Reservoir, which supplies the Santa Ana River and the groundwater basin that supplies 2.5 million residents of Orange County, revealed that a more efficient pattern of releases using FIRO could capture an additional 4,000 acre-feet annually, enough to supply 60,000 additional residents. It’s a discovery of enormous promise: Without building anything new, or spending more dollars, USACE and its partners have figured out how to increase water supplies to communities facing greater uncertainty.
Building capacity and resilience among these communities has long
been an emphasis of USACE’s approach to how the nation makes use of its water infrastructure, said Will Veatch, acting lead for USACE’s Climate Preparedness and Resilience Community of Practice – an approach that will become more important amid increasing demand for the nation’s water resources. “We’re trying to be more intentional about understanding and increasing our partners’ adaptive capacities,” he said. “We’re trying to come up with ways to use our capacity-building programs, like the National Flood Risk Management Program, the Tribal Partnership Program, planning assistance to states, and Silver Jackets, and trying to find out how much capac-
ity these communities have. Some of them may have capacities we don’t even know about.”
Veatch believes greater knowledge of the capacities – and vulnerabilities – of communities will be a key factor in guiding how USACE directs its resources to modernize the nation’s water infrastructure. “We want to make sure, as we go forward together and make a more adaptable, resilient future,” he said, “that it’s not just the high-rent districts that get all the benefits because they’ve got the expensive structures at risk – that there’s a lot that can be done, and needs to be done, across the spectrum to ensure an equitable future.” AE
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PHOTO BY ERDC PAO
p A water release at Lake Mendocino, the pilot reservoir for the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations effort.
It Takes a Village at Isabella
Partnerships at one of USACE’s largest projects
Isabella Lake, California, is the site of the one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) most prominent examples of partnering. Although it has the USACE name on it, this nearly $650 million investment in flood risk reduction for the southern Central Valley is hardly the work of one agency.
“Everything we do requires our commitment to proactive, collaborative, working relationships with partners across the public and private sectors,” said Col. Chad Caldwell, commander of the USACE Sacramento District. “The Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project builds on lessons learned from other successful dam safety projects, and one of those key lessons is the value of partnership.”
Whether on military projects, levee or dam safety improvements, veterans’ hospitals, or recreation management, USACE never works alone. They live in the communities they
BY JEREMY CROFT
construction continues on the labyrinth weir, one of the key components of the overall project. Other modifications include 16-foot raises to both the main and auxiliary dam, reinforcement of the auxiliary dam, and construction of a new emergency spillway.
serve, and work with numerous public and private entities to accomplish their infrastructure mission.
“On a project like Isabella, you’re not just in and out – this is a long-duration project where our folks will be living and working in the community for years,” said Tambour Eller, the deputy district engineer. “It’s important to us to be good neighbors, which is why we hire local folks and do our best to communicate proactively with those affected by our projects.”
USACE recognizes many different kinds of relationships between federal, state, and local entities. They can often be cost-sharing partners, stakeholders, local sponsors, or something else entirely. But every agency USACE works with is considered a “partner” in the broadest sense, in that they all share a common vision for success.
It’s been a long road from when USACE first identified Isabella Dam in 2005 as one of the highest-risk dams in the United States for
failure or overtopping. From congressional appropriations to local citizens invested in the communities surrounding the Kern County reservoir, USACE admits, it’s never done the work alone.
PARTNERSHIP IS A USACE LEADERSHIP PRIORITY
Partnership has always been a key value of USACE, but its senior leaders have recently reiterated its importance.
The 55th Chief of Engineers and USACE Commanding General Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon is more focused than ever on ensuring successful partnerships inside and outside the federal government.
“All USACE professionals should be committed to building and sustaining successful value-driven partnerships that enable us to safely deliver quality projects on time and within budget,” said Spellmon in a recent email to USACE leaders.
Leaders up and down USACE, both military and civilian, have echoed these sentiments.
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PHOTO BY JEREMY CROFT
p Employees of USACE’s South Pacific Division and Sacramento District pose for a group photo with Col. Toni Gant, the division commander, and Col. James Handura, the former Sacramento District commander, at the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project in Lake Isabella, California, Nov. 30, 2021. In the background,
“Partnerships are incredibly vital on the West Coast, with its diverse population and land uses, many different demands on fresh water sources, and other challenges,” said Cheree Peterson, regional business director for the South Pacific Division. “The Corps of Engineers is uniquely suited to forge mutually beneficial relationships addressing these important concerns.”
THE DISTRICT’S MANY PARTNERS
The Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project is one of USACE’s most challenging. Its resident office is located more than 300 miles from the district headquarters, making handson leadership challenging for the district’s brain trust. In addition, the project is one of few – if any – projects in USACE that mines its own materials onsite.
The new emergency spillway at Isabella had to be blasted and carved out of solid rock. The material removed from the spillway’s path then goes to an onsite aggregate plant that crushes the rock into different gradations. Then, workers lay this rock down in precise increments to maximize the strength and safe drainage capacity of the main and auxiliary dams.
All this work requires a level of expertise that would tax a USACE district to the limit. But the Sacramento District happens to house the Dam Safety Production Center (DSPC) one of USACE’s premier West Coast hubs for dam design.
“The USACE approach to the technical challenges at Isabella is to bring the best, most capable team to reduce risk to those living downstream of the dam,” said Creg Hucks, director of the DSPC. “Our team consists of some of the most talented dam safety professionals within USACE and the entire industry. In collaboration with our contractor, we’re committed to delivering a high-quality project that will serve for decades.”
Workers shovel drain rock dumped by a front-end loader on the downstream side of the main dam at the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project in Lake Isabella, California, April 28, 2022. Crews with the Sacramento District have raised the height of both the Main and Auxiliary Dams by 16 feet to reduce flood risk to downstream communities, including Bakersfield. Phase Two of the project, which encompasses the dam safety construction work, is substantially complete as of November 2022.
Lake Isabella-Kernville area and part of the Sequoia National Forest.
“Thanks to the Corps of Engineers’ hard work, recreational opportunities and visitor services will be much improved by the end of this project,” said Philip Desenze, acting district ranger for the Sequoia National Forest’s Kern River Ranger District. “USACE has maintained constant two-way communication with our district, the community, and other stakeholders throughout the Kern River Valley. The Corps’ team is forthcoming, responsible, and proactive; we couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”
The ranger district previously maintained a visitor center and fire station located on a bluff overlooking Isabella Lake and smack dab in between the reservoir’s main dam and auxiliary dams – the location identified by USACE engineers for the DSMP’s construction of a new Labyrinth Weir and emergency spillway. Because the facilities were now sitting in the footprint of the project’s upcoming modifications, they had to be demolished before construction on new features could begin.
the local community a priority. Every month, project leaders meet with a group of local community members representing the area businesses and residents to pass along project updates and address issues that may impact the surrounding community during construction.
Traffic interruption is one such impact. It’s inevitable that during a four-year construction project set in the middle of a sizable recreational hub and vibrant community, there will be plenty of challenges where local coordination is vital.
“At one point, we reduced Highway 155 to a single-lane road,” said Victor Ozuna, Isabella DSMP resident engineer. “We were in constant communication with the public to help them navigate that lane closure and other traffic delays, to the point that they provided feedback that helped us adjust the timing of the traffic light for better traffic flow and safety.”
This steady stream of communication helped reduce the risk of a head-on collision during the traffic limitation.
Besides the DSPC, the Sacramento District partners with many different entities to accomplish the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project. At the federal level, the Sacramento District partners with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which is responsible for much of the land in the
But true to good partnership, USACE constructed a replacement USFS fire station on the southeast side of the lake, which also currently houses an interim visitor center until a permanent facility can be built elsewhere in the town of Lake Isabella – a site ultimately selected by the USFS, with input from the local community.
Of course, nothing would get built without the help of private contractors who partner with the Sacramento District to design and build the nation’s finest infrastructure projects.
Strong government-contractor partnerships can occasionally present a challenge because each party’s interests are so diverse. But a culture of respect and professionalism has helped Ozuna and his team weather these challenges and forge U.S.
Since the beginning of the Isabella DSMP, district leaders have made partnering with
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Reducing Risk by Delivering Hurricane Harvey Supplemental Projects in the Dallas Metro Area
a durable relationship with the prime contractor at the Isabella DSMP, Flatiron-Dragados-Sukut Joint Venture.
Both the formal Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System and the informal, face-to-face communication that takes place at the resident office are vital to creating a culture of respect. Ozuna and his team begin every partnership meeting with the contractors by sharing positive information and accomplishments from both sides.
“It’s good to remind ourselves that despite any challenges we might have, there are things in the project that are going well,” said Ozuna.
PROJECT STATUS AND CONCLUSION
Summer 2022 is scheduled to be the last recreation season impacted by the dams and spillway construction, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony tentatively planned for fall or winter.
Over the last four years, the Isabella DSMP team has raised the main and auxiliary dams by 16 feet; re-routed Highway 155 so it no longer passes over the dam for greater safety; and carved a giant emergency spillway into the Kern Valley rock. They’ve also completed more than 2 million exposure hours without a safety incident.
Other phases of the project will include construction of the new Sequoia National Forest visitor center, improvements to the main dam campground, and ongoing monitoring of Isabella Dam to ensure the improvements are operating as intended. And as always, partnerships will remain vital to our success.
“The key to successful partnering is a mindset and a culture that starts with our program and project leadership,” said Caldwell. “That mindset is based on understanding whether we’re focused on delivering the project or on merely administering the contract. At the end of the day, we aren’t winning anything by administering a flawless contract if we fail to deliver a successful project.” AE
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Southwestern Division (SWD) continues steady progress in delivering projects under its $5 billion Hurricane Harvey Supplemental Program. As part of the division’s program, 40 regional projects were identified and divided into short- and long-term portfolios funded by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
Total obligations across both long-term and short-term portfolios are approximately $700 million. During fiscal year 2022, five contracts were awarded, obligating $300 million. The coming fiscal year outlook includes another $770 million in scheduled obligations and nine scheduled construction awards.
“The benefits of the supplemental program are substantial for residents across the region,” said SWD
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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE Southwestern Division
ARMY PHOTO BY
p A front-end loader carries drain rock to be placed on the downstream side of the Main Dam at the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project in Lake Isabella, California, April 28, 2022.
t Left: The Lewisville Lake earthen dam.
q Middle: The Dallas Floodway Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and Dallas skyline from the wetland area of the floodway.
q Bottom: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Bridge removal area and the start of the Dallas floodway extension.
Deputy Division Commander Col. James M. Schultze.
Under the construction (long-term) portfolio, there are 12 projects, four within the Fort Worth District and eight within the Galveston District, with an approximate total cost of $4.8 billion.
Three Fort Worth District projects are in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area and will enhance resilience and flood risk management for Dallas residents and businesses. These Trinity River basin projects include construction on Lewisville Lake dam and spillway, along with flood risk management and ecosystem restoration in the Dallas Floodway and Dallas Floodway Extension.
Lewisville Lake is divided into two projects. The first addressed the earthen or grassy portion of the dam, where the focus was to reduce impacts of seepage that would lead to backward erosion. The second project will require construction in the spillway to ensure there is no uplift and sliding.
The Lewisville Lake Dam Safety Modification Study was funded by several sources and received more than $92 million from the Bipartisan Budget Act, more than $55 million for the 2019 Water Resources Development Act, and $6.6 million from the city of Lewisville to relocate water lines from the downstream part of the dam.
“We have substantially reduced the risk to the more than 430,000 residents downstream of the dam,” said Stacy Gray, project manager for the Fort Worth District.
Not too far downstream from Lewisville Lake, the Dallas Floodway and Floodway Extension projects are underway. Construction projects include restoring floodway capacity to 277,000 cubic feet per second, flattening levee side slopes on the existing levees, modifying the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Bridge to increase conveyance efficiency, adding three new interior drainage pump stations, renovating two existing
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MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
St. Paul District
pump stations, and the enhancement of wetland habitat.
In 2007, Congress authorized the Dallas Floodway Project for construction in that year’s Water Resources Development Act at a total cost of $459 million. With the passing of the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, both Dallas Floodway and the Dallas Floodway Extension received funding for all of the flood risk components of the projects.
“The Dallas Floodway is cost-shared – 65% federal and 35% city of Dallas. The extension project is solely federally funded,” said Carlos Denson, project manager with the Fort Worth
District. “To date, we have received $223 million for the floodway and $136 million for the extension.”
Within the floodway program, there are 12 projects, of which one, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Bridge demolition, was completed in 2021. Projects in the construction phase include two pump stations, the $277,000 levee raise, and slope-flattening, which will raise both the east and west levees to sustain a 277,000 cubic feet per second water surface elevation along the levee. Additionally, there will be a side slope-flattening on the river side of the levees.
St. Paul District Continues Efforts to Reduce Flood Risk to Metro Area
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) St. Paul District reached major milestones in 2022 in its efforts to reduce flood risk to more than 235,000 people in the greater Fargo, North Dakota-Moorhead, Minnesota, metro area.
USACE leaders supported its partner, the Metro Flood Diversion Authority, as they broke ground on their portion of a diversion project that includes a 30-mile diversion channel, Aug. 9.
BY PATRICK MOES
In a field with construction equipment near the site where the diversion channel will tie back into the Red River of the North, elected officials from North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as senior leaders within USACE, to include Jaime Pinkham, principal deputy for assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Stacey Brown, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works (Management and Budget); Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, Mississippi Valley Division commander; and Col. Eric Swenson, St. Paul District commander, gathered to provide some perspective on this milestone, which was years in the making.
“The communities of Fargo and Moorhead and the Army Corps of Engineers have a long history dating back to the early 1950s working side by side to manage flood events,” said Swenson. “Today, we are taking a small step, or scoop of dirt, which symbolizes the earthwork that will
“These improvements will reduce flood risk and minimize the impacts of flooding. The flattening of the embankments will increase [their] stability and decrease overall operations and maintenance costs,” said Denson.
In the floodway extension area, two new earthen levees will be constructed. The Lamar levee will be approximately 3 miles long, and the Cadillac Heights levee will be 2.25 miles long.
“It is very important that we focus on protecting the communities as well as the businesses that are behind those levees,” said Denson. AE
soon define a large step forward – a step that will shift our efforts from flood fighting to flood prevention.”
“The symbolic groundbreaking is another step toward protecting more than 235,000 residents and 70 square miles of infrastructure within the greater Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area,” said Terry Williams, St. Paul District program manager in charge of USACE’s portion of the flood diversion project. She added that this project is one of the top priorities for USACE, and her team is working together with local partners to reduce flood risk to the area, which includes implementation using an alternative financing/split-delivery approach.
The financing and delivery concept, also known as a public-private partnership, or P3, is the first of its kind within USACE’s Civil Works program. “Utilizing the P3/split-delivery approach enables us to provide flood risk management benefits 10 years sooner when compared to traditional delivery methods,” said Williams, a North Dakota native. She added that the project is expected to provide benefits to the region as soon as 2027.
Williams said the split delivery includes the non-federal sponsor using a 30-year public-private partnership delivery to finance, design, build, operate, and maintain the diversion channel and associated features. She added that USACE’s efforts include designing and constructing the diversion inlet structure, the Wild Rice and Red River structures, 20 miles of dam embankments, and associated road raises, to include a 4-mile raise of
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p A crane lifts a Tainter gate into place at the USACE St. Paul District Wild Rice Inlet Structure near Horace, North Dakota, Sept. 19. The gate is one of two that will be erected at the structure, which is a key component of the Fargo, North Dakota-Moorhead, Minnesota, Metro Area Diversion project. Once the project is complete, it will reduce flood risk to more than 235,000 people within the region.
BY PATRICK MOES
MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE St.
Interstate Highway 29. “We currently have more than $300 million under construction to include seven of the 13 planned federal contracts,” said Williams.
While the Fargo-Moorhead Metro Area is on its way to significantly reducing future flood risks, the P3 funding concept is growing as a delivery solution within USACE as communities look to create resilient infrastructure against future flood threats. “The implementation of this project using public-private partnership provides proof of concept and represents a new era in community-based infrastructure investment,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the 55th chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Williams said the need to innovate and to find solutions that work for everyone is just one of the reasons that USACE’s Fargo-Moorhead team supporting the P3 effort was recently selected as USACE’s Project Delivery Team of the Year for Excellence. “This team, along with our dedicated sponsor partners, [was] able to accelerate the delivery of this critical project and met every challenge associated with doing something technically and procedurally complex for the very first time,” she said.
In addition to the diversion channel, USACE engineers and its contractor, Ames Construction from Burnsville, Minnesota, installed the first of two Tainter gates at the Wild Rice Structure near Horace, North Dakota, Sept. 19.This was the first of seven large gates to be installed at the three structures, and the event symbolizes a great deal of hard work and dedication by the team, said Duane Perkins, St. Paul District technical lead engineer for the project.
The Wild Rice Structure is one of three that will eventually divert water around the metro area through the diversion channel. “To go from ... seeing the gates being manufactured to being vertically installed is very rewarding,” said Richard Tollefson, St. Paul District construction engineer.
Elsewhere, work continues on the diversion inlet structure, the I-29 raise, and multiple reaches of dam embankment, and the Red River Structure construction is in the beginning phases, with concrete placement expected toward the beginning of 2023. A E
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PHOTO BY PATRICK MOES
p Duane Perkins, St. Paul District technical lead for the Metro Area Diversion project, examines a paint coating Sept. 19 on a piece of a Tainter gate that will be erected at USACE’s St. Paul District Wild Rice Inlet Structure near Horace, North Dakota. USACE’s contractor erected the other gate into place Sept. 19. The Tainter gates are a key component to the structure.
Effectively Managing the Nation’s Water Resources
The effective management of water resources is an inherently human challenge. There is still no substitute for water in its most important uses. And while water is essential as a resource, it is unevenly distributed, difficult to capture, movable only at great cost, highly variable in availability, susceptible to pollution, and liable to spread illness. Managing our water resources requires strong organization and resourcing.
Challenges from floods, drought, and pollution threaten our water resources. Rising demand from agriculture, industry, navigation, and human consumption, in conjunction with changes in climate, land use, and populations, has created stress in areas where water was historically abundant.
Differing surface water rights between eastern and western states also can lead to issues. The Institute for Water Resources (IWR), as a field operating activity of the U.S. Army
BY COL. JOE MANOUS JR., PH.D., USA (RET.), PAUL GAGNON, PH.D., AND MICHELLE HILLEARY, PH.D.
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Resources COURTESY IMAGE, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, INSTITUTE FOR WATER RESOURCES
Institute for Water
The Institute for Water Resources provides the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the United States with comprehensive support for the management of water resources and the sustainment of the nation’s economic status through modern analysis, unique methods and models, and data management.
MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE Institute for Water Resources
p A recent effort by the Institute for Water Resources centered on analyzing the economic effect of deepening the Mississippi River channel. Corps of Engineers (USACE), helps support these water planning and management challenges through a diverse set of responsibilities. IWR provides overarching analysis of water resources trends and issues; development, distribution, usage, and training of methods and models for planning, operations, and engineering; and data management of program and project information on a national scale.
To support USACE’s modern Civil Works mission, IWR oversees seven unique centers committed to providing forward-looking analysis, cutting-edge methodologies, and innovative tools.
Economic analysis and planning. Economics and planning make up a core focus of IWR’s Water Resources Center. Recent studies it has published address cost variation associated with incremental funding of large Civil Works projects (“Evaluation of Impacts Associated with Delay or Deferment of Civil Works Funding”), and the impact of outflows from Lake Ontario on commercial navigation (“Economic Impact Assessment of Halting Commercial Navigation on the Montreal-to-Lake Ontario Section of the St. Lawrence Seaway”). Among its other priority areas, the center is supporting the
Justice40 initiative to advance environmental justice and spur economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities. This includes recent work evaluating rapid assessment tools for identifying vulnerable populations in planning studies.
Enabling advancements internationally. The International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management incubates collaboration that taps into expertise on emerging issues. Recent initiatives include support for rainfall estimation measurements and African flood and drought monitors. Prac-
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COURTESY IMAGE, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, INSTITUTE OF WATER RESOURCES
titioners use these tools to study drought adaptation, stunting of childhood growth, human migration, livestock parasites, and malaria and cholera transmission. In 2018, along with UNESCO, the center co-published a guide to climate risk-informed decision analysis – a bottom-up, risk-based framework for resilient water resources planning that has been applied in countries as diverse as Zambia, Chile, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the United States.
Coordinating public engagement. The Collaboration and Public Participation Center of Expertise supports public engagement on Civil Works projects, such as when the USACE New Orleans District requested assistance in engaging the local community for the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. Additionally, the center worked with the Udall Foundation and contractors to identify and assess stakeholders to improve the Columbia River Treaty process between the United States and Canada, and in 2020, joined with the Water Resources Center to publish “Strengthening USACE Collaboration with Tribal Nations for Water Resources Management,” which offered improved collaboration strategies to address water resources challenges that tribal nations confront.
METHODS AND MODELS
More populations at risk of floods means that advancing hydraulic and hydrologic modeling capabilities with increased resolution, greater accuracy, and faster computation is increasingly important. To meet this expanding challenge, hydraulic and hydrologic modeling has grown more robust alongside improvements in computational power, terrain data availability, and weather forecasting. IWR delivers such expertise and solutions to benefit communities nationwide through two of its technical centers.
Mitigating day-to-day risks. The Hydrologic Engineering Center provides valuable software to address surface water, riverine systems, sedimentation, and reservoirs. Results from this software suite are publicly available from USACE’s Access to Water at
no cost. The River Analysis System allows the modeling of open channel flow and provides 2D spatially distributed wind and rainfall modeling, 2D sediment transport, and mud and debris flows. Practitioners have applied the River Analysis System to examine outcomes, from the failure of the Brumadinho mine tailing dam in Brazil to post-wildfire flood inundation in Santa Barbara, California. Additional modeling tools supported by the Hydrologic Engineering Center include the Hydrologic Modeling System, a precipitation-runoff tool that simulates complete hydrologic processes of dendritic watershed systems; the Ecosystem Functions Model, which combines hydrology and ecosystems information to elucidate ecological conditions and identify restoration opportunities; and the Army Corps of Engineers Water Management System, a USACE-specific hydrologic, hydraulic, and consequence suite of modeling tools that provides real-time forecasting to inform water resources management. Public versions of this software are available at no cost.
Prioritizing dam and levee safety. Flood risk is not the only water-related threat facing our population. The U.S. economy and the health and safety of its citizens depend on USACE effectively managing, monitoring, and assessing risk across a vast dam and levee system. The National Inventory of Dams, a congressionally authorized database of around 91,000 dams across the nation, is a key tool that emergency managers, safety professionals, community leaders, and residents use to identify persons and structures at risk – enabling people to take life-saving actions before a dam-related incident. Recently, IWR’s Risk Management Center collaborated with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to produce all-new flood hazard curves that incorporated a formal Nuclear Regulatory Report and joint probabilities of dam breaches. The center’s risk modeling software, LifeSim 2.0, is capable of producing high-resolution inundation probabilities, and recent updates incorporate building stability, more accurate traffic simulation, and more robust understanding of fatality rates. It is also publicly available at no cost.
Supporting the Civil Works mission in the 21st century requires putting data in the hands of decision-makers and making it actionable. Data should reside in a standardized, cloudsmart, user-friendly format within a cyber-secure environment. Civil Works Business Intelligence (CWBI), in coordination with IWR’s Navigation and Civil Works Decision Support Center, has developed a strategic portfolio of management data and enterprise information technology investments. CWBI leverages cloud-native technology to promote innovation and enhanced visualization of data. The portfolio comprises interoperable databases and more than 125 modular applications organized into Civil Works business lines such as navigation and flood risk management. The center also curates data on the characteristics, performance, and use of the nation’s navigation infrastructure systems, supporting waterborne commerce and associated investment and operation decisions that underpin regional and national economies.
Meanwhile, IWR’s Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center collects and disseminates information about the movements of goods and commodities on inland waterways and through U.S. ports, supporting and enabling the operation of America’s waterways and supply chains. This data, for instance, was recently combined with IWR’s HarborSym Model to analyze the economic effects of deepening the Mississippi River ship channel.
SUPPORTING ECONOMIC GROWTH
Since 1824, USACE Civil Works has supported the economic growth of the nation while providing services and engineering that protect public health, safety, and welfare.
As it confronted historic challenges over the years, the program has evolved and adopted to continuously meet the mission.
Success today requires innovative, accessible technologies, and management capabilities with a focus on the human element. New approaches, products, programs, and activities are evidence of the comprehensive support for water resource management that IWR provides in meeting these challenges. A E
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New Lock at the Soo: Unlocking the Great Lakes
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Detroit District works on unlocking the Great Lakes by providing a much-needed resiliency at the Soo Locks with the construction of the New Lock at the Soo. The new lock will be the same dimensions as the Poe Lock, at 1,200 feet long, 110 feet wide, and 30 feet deep.
Often called the “linchpin” of the Great Lakes navigation system, the Soo Locks are located in Sault Ste.
BY CARRIE FOX
Marie, Michigan, between the upper peninsula of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario. The Soo Locks enable bulk carrier vessels to safely bypass the swift-moving St. Marys River rapids, where the water drops
21 feet over bedrock in a three-quarter-mile stretch. The St. Marys River is the only connecting waterway between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.
Before the first lock was constructed in 1798, trade canoes had to be unloaded and portaged around the rapids, taking roughly six weeks to complete. Today, the locks operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 42 weeks of the year, allowing government, commercial, and private vessels to transit safely and more efficiently.
“Nearly all domestically produced highstrength steel, 95%, used to manufacture products like automobiles and appliances,
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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE Detroit District
Artistic rendering of what the Soo Locks facility in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, will look like when the New Lock at the Soo is complete in 2030.
MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE Detroit District
t Soo Locks lock and dam operators chip ice off the Poe Lock miter gate in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, during the 2022 winter season. The ice needs to be chipped off for the miter gates to fully close.
they perform is unique, especially given the harsh northern Michigan conditions they work in,” Ryckeghem said.
According to a 2015 Department of Homeland Security study, “an unanticipated closure of the Poe Lock, the only lock large enough at the Soo Locks to allow passage of the lakers [lake freighters] carrying iron ore, would be catastrophic for the nation. A six-month Poe Lock closure would temporarily reduce the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.1 trillion, resulting in the loss of 11 million jobs: approximately 75% of the U.S. integrated steel production would cease within two to six weeks after a closure of the Poe Lock; approximately 80% of iron ore mining operations would shut down; and nearly 100% of North American appliances, automobile, construction equipment, and farm equipment, mining equipment and railcar production would shut down.”
Upon completion of the New Lock at the Soo, the facility will have two 1,200-foot lock chambers and one 800-foot lock chamber. After commissioning of the New Lock at the Soo, the Poe Lock will be out of service for several years for major rehabilitation. Once all three locks are operational, one lock will be able to be taken out of service during more favorable periods of weather without affecting navigation.
is made with iron ore that transits the Soo Locks,” said Mollie Mahoney, New Lock at the Soo senior project manager. “Of the iron ore that transits the Soo Locks, 88% of it is restricted to the Poe lock due to vessel size.”
The Poe Lock opened in 1968 and will be 62 years old when the New Lock at the Soo is scheduled to be complete in 2030.
“The reason the Soo Locks have been so reliable over the years is due to the recurring construction of new locks every two or three decades,” LeighAnn Ryckeghem, Soo Locks operations manager, said. “Up
until now, the biggest gap was 24 years from [the] opening of the Sabin Lock to the MacArthur Lock.”
Currently, all major maintenance on the Soo Locks is completed during the federally regulated annual closure period from Jan. 15 to March 25. The closure period is driven in part by Great Lakes ice conditions, which typically restricts vessel traffic during this period. “The Detroit District team works long hours in extreme cold and snowy conditions to complete a significant amount of maintenance during this time. The work
The New Lock at the Soo is being built in the footprint of the existing Sabin Lock, the northern-most lock on the Soo Locks facility, opened in 1919. The construction program, which includes improvements to the northern approach channel, is occurring in three phases of work. Phase 1 includes deepening the upstream approach to the northern channel from 24 feet to 30 feet deep so modern vessels can approach the New Lock at the Soo. Phase 2 includes rehabilitating the upstream approach walls to guide vessels into the new lock, and will allow the vessels to moor on the wall. The existing approach walls in the northern
PHOTO BY CARMEN PARIS
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PHOTO BY CARRIE FOX
channel are the same age as the existing Sabin and Davis locks – more than 100 years old. Phase 3 includes demolishing the existing Sabin Lock, infilling the Davis Lock, constructing a new pump well, and constructing the new lock chamber.
“The Corps of Engineers continues to work hard to maintain the pace and continue to make progress toward New Lock at the Soo total project completion in 2030,” said Mahoney.
All major phases of the New Lock at the Soo have been awarded. Phase 1 was substantially complete as of Aug. 1, 2022. The $52 million contract was performed by Trade West Construction Co.; they removed about 300,000 cubic yards of bedrock and overburden from the north channel. Trade West used mechanical means to remove the material by using rippers and excavators placed on barges to break up and remove the material. The removed material was placed on the Northwest Pier of the Soo Locks facility and will act as a wind break for transiting vessels.
Phase 2 is currently in the second year of construction and is estimated to be compete in summer 2024. The contractor, Kokosing-Alberici, is placing a series of coffer cells filled with stone aggregate and concrete in front of the 100-plus-year-old Sabin Lock walls. The contract is valued at $117 million, and includes a total of 52 coffer cells, along with several transition walls constructed with steel sheet piles. All the coffer cells and transition walls will be capped with concrete, which will serve
as the walking surface of the new walls along the upstream approach channel.
The base contract for Phase 3 was awarded to Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC, on July 1, 2022. With timely award of all nine contact options, this phase of work is expected to be complete in 2030. The new lock chamber will be the same size as the Poe Lock to provide resiliency in the operations and maintenance between the New Lock at the Soo and the Poe Lock. There will be some new features on the New Lock at the Soo, such as hands-free mooring units.
“Hands-free mooring units act like suction cups that hold the ship in place moving up as the chamber fills or down as it empties,” Rachel Miller, new lock supervisory civil engineer said. “These units will be a safety upgrade to using line handlers, the current method of mooring ships in the lock chamber.”
The award of the Phase 3 base contract is a major milestone for the project. Awarding the base allows the contractor to begin a substantial portion of the required work. To date, the base contract and one of the nine options have been awarded, with a total value of $1.071 billion. With continued funding, the remaining work, valued at $802 million, is ready to be awarded over the next three years.
A major cost increase led to a fivemonth contract award delay while USACE developed necessary reports to deliver a new cost estimate for reauthorization to Congress. The cost increase root causes
t New Lock at the Soo Phase 2: Upstream approach walls progress shown between April and September 2022 at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Phase 2 contractor is placing a total of 52 coffer cells and several transition walls to rehabilitate the more than 100-year-old walls for the upstream approach to the new lock.
include changing market conditions, inflation, a nationwide labor shortage, design modifications, and early estimate assumptions. Since the project’s last authorization in 2018, the project’s cost increased from $1 billion to $3 billion.
“We recognize funding a larger amount for the New Lock at the Soo is a challenge that could potentially result in schedule impacts,” said Deputy District Engineer Kevin McDaniels. “The Corps of Engineers is partnering with industry and federal agencies to find collaborative solutions aimed at addressing the cost impacts to Corps of Engineers programs and projects nationwide.”
In 2022, the New Lock at the Soo received $478.9 million in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and $214.2 million in the 2022 BIL addendum (contingent upon the project’s reauthorization at a higher cost in the 2022 Water Resources Development Act). The 2022 BIL addendum funds allow USACE to award some of the remaining $802 million work required to make the New Lock at the Soo fully functional.
The Soo Locks, recognized as nationally critical infrastructure, continue to receive bipartisan support in Congress for funding the new project.
The Soo Locks complete more than 7,000 vessel passages a year, moving up to 75 million tons of cargo. Moving bulk cargos though the Soo Locks and across the Great Lakes saves more than $3.9 billion per year in freight costs, compared to moving the same tonnage by rail or truck. One 1,000-foot vessel can carry the equivalent of seven 100 car trains with a 10,000-ton capacity or 3,000 large trucks with a 25-ton capacity each.
The New Lock at the Soo will be named by Congress, most likely after it is completed.
For more information about the New Lock at the Soo project, visit: www.lre.usace.army.mil/About/Highlighted-Projects/ New_Soo_Lock/. AE
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USACE Serves on Unified Response Team for Water Crisis
t U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District engineers were on site at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant, Sept. 1, 2022, after receiving a FEMA ESF#3 mission assignment to perform initial assessments.
On Aug. 29, the city of Jackson (COJ) declared a “water system emergency” and the state requested an “emergency measures declaration.” The next day, a federal state of emergency was declared, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts.
USACE received a FEMA mission assignment (MA) on Sept. 1 to provide technical assistance to the COJ. As part of the overall MA, USACE was tasked with developing a “Resiliency Playbook” to assist with long-term improvements to the O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell water treatment facilities.
Anyone within USACE’s enterprise with water, wastewater, or water supply experience who could work on this challenge at the WTPs was sought out to assist.
Within the first two days of USACE’s MA, a Vicksburg District team had boots on the ground at O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell to begin performing assessments to determine what the unified command could do to assist in repairing the two water treatment facilities. The unified command was composed of USACE, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the EPA, FEMA, the city of Jackson, and was overall led by the Mississippi State Dept of Health.
The reports that USACE’s initial assessment team produced were the target items for everyone to begin working on that helped restore water pressure and drinkable water.
The upper Pearl River, which courses through north Jackson, Mississippi, and supplies water to the Ross Barnett Reservoir, experienced flooding that prompted USACE’s Vicksburg District to activate its emergency operations center (EOC) at level 2 on Aug. 27 to provide direct and technical assistance to the state of
BY SABRINA DALTON
Mississippi, affected counties, partners, and sponsors.
Just as the floodwaters began receding, another crisis arose. The chemical composition of the water in Ross Barnett, which supplies raw water to the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant (WTP), changed so that it compromised the WTP’s ability to function properly, cutting off the water supply to more than 150,000 residents.
USACE personnel from Baltimore District Washington Aquaduct, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Mississippi Valley Division, Vicksburg District, Mobile District Water and Wastewater Technical Center of Expertise, and Walla Walla District Cost Engineering Center of Expertise worked together to develop a “Resiliency Playbook.”
Once water pressure and water quality were restored, USACE’s role transitioned
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During late August of this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was knee-deep supporting the country with mission assignments that USACE is familiar with, such as wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. One unexpected crisis ramped up USACE for an enterprise-wide, unified response to a not-so-familiar mission assignment: drinking water supply.
PHOTO BY SABRINA DALTON
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MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
to long-term solutions, developing a list of more than 60 projects to include in the “Resiliency Playbook” that will continue to improve the water infrastructure.
The Vicksburg District will be the long-term project manager and will continue to support Jackson when the FEMA mission assignment ended in October. Katy Breaux, a district senior project manager with experience in environmental infrastructure programs, will be the continuity for the implementation of the playbook.
“Sections 592 for the state of Mississippi and 219 [Water Resources Development Act of 1999 as amended in 2007] projects specifically for the COJ as well as Planning Assistance to States program under general investigations authority are solutions that have been identified to help.”
Not only did USACE work as an enterprise to deliver water supply solutions, but something even greater was realized from working as a whole-of-government team.
“We strengthened our relationships with our state and federal partners, working side by side. Edith [U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory Research Environmental Engineer Edith Martinez-Guerra, Ph.D.] was doing water quality samples and working with the EPA to discuss what needed to be repaired. Working closely with FEMA and the Department of Health, those with the expertise who’ve been doing surveys on the plants for years, was instrumental in the level of federal support that went to help people,” Breaux concluded. AE
ERDC’s Martinez-Guerra Applies Military Installation Expertise to Jackson Water Crisis
By now, many have heard of the water crisis affecting the city of Jackson, Mississippi.
Many may not realize, however, that a research environmental engineer from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Environmental Laboratory, Edith Marti nez-Guerra, Ph.D., applied her expertise with military installations to help assess the troubled system.
The city’s two water treatment plants, the O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell, make up a significant part of that system. According to Jackson’s website, the O.B. Curtis experienced problems with treating water in early September, leading to a loss of drinkable water throughout the city.
“I did an infrastructure assessment on resiliency for the water treatment plants by adapting a survey template our team had developed from the instal lation energy and water plan [IEWP] project,” Martinez-Guerra said. “I used it to develop a baseline to see what we need to work on in Jackson.”
IEWPs build resilience into U.S. Army and Air Force installation energy and water systems for mission-critical readiness after hurricanes and other catastrophes, and Martinez-Guerra was the water lead on the project. She defines resilience as how quickly inter connected systems can recover when they become impaired.
The IEWPs are part of a multidisci plinary, multi-laboratory program that Martinez-Guerra has been working on since 2019 through ERDC’s Applied Research Planning Support Center.
Vicksburg District Project Manager Capt. Hayden Schappell is leading the development of a “Resiliency Playbook” for the city of Jackson’s water crisis under a mission assignment to the Fed eral Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Vicksburg District’s Katy Breaux is a senior project manager over the Environmental Infrastructure Program and has been working closely with
BY HOLLY KUZMITSKI
Schappell and Martinez-Guerra since the USACE Jackson Water Crisis Team formed in September. The USACE team has worked in partnership with other state, local, and federal agencies, including FEMA, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The Playbook will assist the city with long-term improvements to the Jackson water treatment facilities,” Breaux said. “The ‘Resiliency Playbook’ contains more than 60 relevant projects and recommendations that can be implemented to sustain and improve the overall resiliency of these plants. The items contained in the Playbook are intended to be a starting point for future planning efforts performed by local, state, and federal partners.”
Martinez-Guerra’s survey template, associated reports, and project cards played a large role in the develop ment of the Playbook’s roadmap for improvements.
To complete the surveys, Marti nez-Guerra typically asks herself when looking at a water treatment system, “What do they need to look at?” and she inspects the plant systems – in this case, the raw water intake infrastruc ture, flocculators, clarifiers, and other components – to see whether they are working correctly.
“I also looked at the filtering system, the chlorination room, and the sedi mentation basin, and so on,” she said.
“Dr. Martinez-Guerra developed project cards for cost estimates that isolate an issue and then provided a recommendation,” Breaux said. “She has a lot of knowledge, and she excels at sharing it effectively with lay people.”
“I’ve completed the resiliency re ports for both plants,” Martinez-Guerra said. “The O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant is only about 35 years old, and the J.H. Fewell is about 100 years old. Both plants are operating, it’s just that their capacity is lower.”
Martinez-Guerra said the Jackson treatment plants – like many water treatment plants – have redundancies to support resilience. Redundancies
p ERDC’s Environmental Laboratory Research Environmental Engineer Edith Martinez-Guerra, Ph.D., is deep in the J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Plant in Jackson, Mississippi, Sept. 21, 2022. Martinez-Guerra applied her expertise with military installation water resilience during the Jackson water crisis, as part of USACE’s Jackson Water Crisis Team.
are back-up configurations so that if a system fails, there is a backup to use.
“If there are two pumps, and one is a backup – if one pump breaks and there are no personnel to fix it immediately, you use a backup, and then if that one breaks you are in a bind,” she said.
Her expertise and associated water survey template have the potential for wide-ranging application. An official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Pro tection and Resilience Team recently contacted her to inquire about using her template.
Breaux said the expertise and tools Martinez-Guerra brought to bear during the crisis were very valuable.
“Dr. Martinez-Guerra was an integral part of the response to the Jackson water crisis,” Breaux said. “She identified critical vulnerabilities in water plant operations and made expert recommendations to improve the operations and resiliency of the Jackson water plants. She performed water quality testing and algae specia tion to assist the EPA and MSDH to ensure high-quality water for Jackson residents. Her knowledge and expertise greatly contributed to the success of the unified command and [the] USACE Emergency Response Team responding to the Jackson water crisis.” AE
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Through Groundbreaking Consultation, USACE Signs Agreement to Protect Willamette Valley’s Cultural, Historic Resources
Cultural resource specialists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Portland District and partners have finalized an agreement that will enhance the protection of historic and cultural resources across the Willamette Valley, where USACE manages 13 dams and reservoirs in addition to thousands of acres of land, while carrying out critical USACE projects.
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 requires federal agencies to consider any potential impacts their projects may have on historic properties. The new 10-year document, referred to as a programmatic agreement, goes a step further by creating efficiency for USACE, stakeholders, and partner agencies as USACE works to minimize its effects on the region’s shared, public heritage resources.
“Through this agreement, our actions and decisions will align more deliberately and consistently with the expectations of the nation, tribes, states, and partners,” said Erik Petersen, USACE’s Willamette Valley operations project manager. “The result will be better, more efficient protection and stewardship of important cultural and historic values and resources.”
The document standardizes and streamlines USACE’s approach to accounting for potential impacts to cultural and historic resources – for example, by establishing agreement on low-risk projects that don’t warrant additional consultation with partner agencies, allowing USACE to focus its time and energy instead on more complex
BY CHRISTOPHER GAYLORD
projects likely to have a greater effect on the area’s resources.
The agreement defines roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols to ensure USACE is using its funding and personnel wisely for the preservation of cultural resources. It also continues engagement with consulting parties to make sure cultural resources are considered early on in project planning.
To develop the agreement, USACE collaborated with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office; Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; tribal nations; federal, state, and local agencies; and local heritage-focused
organizations with an interest in USACE’s Willamette Valley Project.
“It’s not every day that local governments, local organizations, state and federal agencies, sovereign tribal governments, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation engage together in the 106 process in the way that the legislation intended,” said Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Chrissy Curran, who also signed the USACE agreement. “It’s not lost on me that successful collaboration, negotiation, and meaningful consultation represent something far bigger in our world today than a project agreement.”
USACE estimates that around 1,000 cultural and historical resources are located within its area of operations in the Willamette Valley. They include archaeological sites, historic buildings, landscapes with cultural or religious significance, and even USACE’s own infrastructure – the protection of which helps to preserve the region’s history and heritage for future generations. AE
t Portland District Commander Col. Mike Helton (right) and deputy state historic preservation officer Chrissy Curran sign a new programmatic agreement May 31 at USACE’s Foster Dam that will enhance the protection of historic and cultural resources across the Willamette Valley. The 10-year document, which USACE developed through groundbreaking consultation with tribal nations, partner agencies, and local heritage-focused organizations, will create efficiency as USACE works to minimize its effects on the region’s shared, public heritage resources while carrying out critical projects.
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 81 CHRIS GAYLORD, PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE Portland District
TRENCHLESS EDUCATION AND TRAINING HELP MITIGATE RISKS AND ADVANCE TECHNOLOGIES
The North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) is a 501(c) (3)not-for-profit educational society comprised of engineers/consultants, manufacturers/suppliers, public works/utilities and academia, representing the United States, Canada, and Mexico. NASTT has a network of 12 Regional Chapters and 18 Student Chapters, and is affiliated with the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT), who share the same basic concerns for the environment and the social costs of utility construction and rehabilitation.
Since its founding in 1990, NASTT has promoted trenchless technology through education, publishing, training, and research for the public benefit. Trenchless technology covers any techniques, processes, or procedures, including the
equipment, machines, and materials involved, which minimizes or eliminates the need for surface excavation or reduces environmental damage or the associated costs for underground work; also known as “no-dig” or “low-dig” methods.
NASTT’s mission is to continuously improve infrastructure management through trenchless technology, and its vision is to be the premier resource for knowledge and education in trenchless technology. This is delivered through non-commercial, peer-reviewed Good Practice publications and courses on systems and applications, the annual NASTT No-Dig Show exhibition and conference, providing peer-reviewed, noncommercial technical papers and networking events, career development pathways, and grant funding for student scholarship and municipal programs.
Pipeline construction is booming, and the need for installation beneath structures using trenchless technologies is increasing. Horizontal directional drilling, microtunneling, pipe ramming and pipe bursting offer positive solutions to installing pipelines with minimal disruption. Pipeline construction can pose risks to a project if the construction is not approached properly. Risk mitigation is critical to the success of the project. NASTT education and training can help mitigate these risks and advance the state of practice.
With recently implemented important updates in permitting guidance for trenchless crossings beneath embankment dams and levees, trenchless design firms must now elevate their permitting expertise and skill sets to address the new requirements for proposed projects.
As one step to assist in this process, NASTT has recently accepted an abstract for a proposed technical paper for presentation at the 2023 No-Dig Show (nastt.org) in Portland, Oregon, presenting updated guidance and measures which can be used by design firms and permit applicants to ensure criteria are met. Two projects summarized below also serve as examples of the benefits of trenchless technology to complete important infrastructure proj ects while protecting critical facilities and environmentally sensitive features.
As part of an overall program to reduce CSOs per consent order decree, trenchless
The appearance of or reference to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government does not imply or indicate endorsement by any of these entities.
STAHELI TRENCHLESS CONSULTANTS
82 I AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
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technology was used to install a CSO outfall under a flood protection levee in New Hampshire to convey partially treated CSO effluent to a local river. A 74-inch diameter tunnel was excavated 550 feet through gravels and sands by pressure slurry MTBM at an average depth of 14 feet. The bore was a one-pass tunnel jacked with reinforced concrete jacking pipe, and was successfully in stalled by continuous construction over three 24-hour workdays. Retrieval of the MTBM was in the dry in a steel sheet pile coffer cell.
A more recent example can be found in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where a 61-inch diameter Herrenknecht microtunneling machine is being used with a pipe thruster to install 2,600 feet of 56-inch steel pipeline through rock beneath Blakely Mountain into Lake Ouachita for a water supply intake. This design-build project is a testament to the benefits of working closely with federal and state agencies to ensure that
their permitting concerns were proactively addressed. Numerous project features were designed and implemented to ensure that the updated permitting guidelines were met or exceeded.
Affiliate Members of NASTT work collaboratively toward the betterment of the tunneling, underground, and trenchless technology industries, and receive the following benefits:
• Individual NASTT Membership, providing full membership benefits.
• Unlimited access to library to over 3,500 technical papers and confer ence proceedings.
• Personnel can purchase all NASTT products at Member rates where available.
NASTT communications and promo tional material including:
• NASTT No-Dig Show
• NASTT E-News Bulletin
• NASTT Membership magazine, Trenchless North America
• In-person and virtual Good Practices trenchless technology courses –CEUs available
• Free trenchless technology webinars
NASTT is your link to thousands of trenchless professionals and leaders working at the regional, national and international levels. An active network of more than 2,500 members includes contractors, researchers, engineers, manufacturers, owners, government agencies, consultants, and developers interested in underground systems as well as the green applications and financial benefits of trenchless technology.
NASTT is proud to continue to ensure facilities are protected during trenchless crossings by maintaining its leadership in providing up-to-date technical resources, training, and public outreach.
For more information on trenchless technologies, visit nastt.org
NASTT LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/north-american-society-for-trenchless-technology-nastt-/ NASTT Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NoDigShow
NASTT Twitter: https://twitter.com/_NASTT (@_nastt) Hashtags: #nodig2023 ; #trenchlesstechnology
TRENCHLESS ENGINEERS BENNETT TRENCHLESS ENGINEERS
LEFT: Hot Springs, Arkansas Intake project guillotine gate seal used at entry portal to prevent uncontrolled release of Lake Ouachita through intake tunnel.
RIGHT: Hot Springs, Arkansas Intake project Herrenknecht MTBM at start of project.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Being Ready and Responsive
Ready and Responsive to the Needs of the Nation
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sprang into action in September 2022 to help the city of Jackson, Mississippi navigate both the short-term response to the failure of its municipal water supply as well as its long-term recovery – to restore clean drinking water as quickly as possible, and to ensure lifelong resilience and durability for Jackson’s water treatment system – its involvement was automatic: Under the National Response Framework (NRF), which establishes guidelines for domestic emergency response, USACE is the lead agency for Emergency Support Function (ESF) #3: Public Works and Engineering, which includes contracting for the emergency repair of water and wastewater treatment facilities.
The agency carried out this function, but it also did much more: It assessed the existing infrastructure in Jackson, led the development of a detailed playbook for avoiding another crisis by strengthening and protecting Jackson’s future water supply, and assumed long-term leadership of the whole-of-government effort to implement that playbook. It was a crisis unlike any USACE had confronted in its centurylong involvement in domestic emergency response – but it was also something USACE, with its expertise in water infrastructure, was most capable of doing: staffed, programmed, trained, and positioned to deliver relief in the moment, and to help build resilience and capacity for the future.
BY CRAIG COLLINS
84 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
p U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District engineers were on site at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plan, Sept. 1, 2022, after receiving a FEMA ESF #3 mission assignment to perform initial assessments of the pumping and electrical systems. USACE, in coordination with FEMA, is committed to working with federal, state, and local partners to provide assistance to the citizens and city of Jackson, Mississippi.
PHOTO BY SABRINA DALTON
BY CHRIS GARDNER
“The definition of contingency is something that comes up that wasn’t planned. And when those things happen, we’re able to draw on the strengths that come from the civil works side of our house, from military programs, and from research and development.”
Christine Altendorf, USACE Director of Military Programs
The story of how USACE meets the critical demand for its services today, in a way that goes far beyond the 1988 law that outlined its roles in the NRF, is the story of how it became more than just responsive to those demands. It is also, more so every year, ready and able to anticipate those demands, and to help instill that readiness – and resilience –among the communities it serves.
Built for Response
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was an agency born of urgent need: For the Continental Army, Chief Engineer Col. Richard Gridley and his engineers built the earthworks and trenches that held off British forces at Bunker Hill (until the patriots ran out of gunpowder), and helped repel the attack at Dorchester Heights, expelling the British from Massachusetts forever.
As the nation’s military role expanded, the Corps of Engineers evolved to become an expeditionary force, assuming leader-
ship roles in contingency operations. “The definition of contingency,” said USACE Director of Military Programs Christine Altendorf, “is something that comes up that wasn’t planned. And when those things happen, we’re able to draw on the strengths that come from the civil works side of our house, from military programs, and from research and development.”
Throughout the Global War on Terrorism, Altendorf said, literally thousands of USACE civilians were deployed to design and build the infrastructure needed to sustain the allied presence overseas – and to help rebuild nations devastated by war. In 2004, Altendorf visited Iraq to help lead the work of Task Force Restore Iraqi Oil, which helped to repair the country’s
oil infrastructure to a point where it could begin to rebuild its economy. In Afghanistan, USACE personnel managed the $14 billion effort to build police stations around the country.
USACE’s skill set enables it to meet the urgent needs of international partners, including its NATO allies. USACE currently manages the effort to augment facilities and infrastructure in Poland and other nations to bolster the readiness of NATO’s Eastern European allies. As the conflict in Ukraine has unfolded, USACE experts are helping allies to accommodate both an influx in supporting troops, and the more than 5 million Ukrainians who have fled the war to seek shelter in Europe.
This program of overseas support to the combatant commands and allies is coordinated and executed largely through USACE’s Field Force Engineering (FFE) program, which deploys small expeditionary teams of military and civilian specialists. The largest of the six FFE teams is the Forward Engineer Support Team-Main
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 85 U.S.
p USACE Europe District Project Engineer McCabe Stanley checks on concrete placement that is part of the construction of a larger Army Prepositioned Stock project being built in Powidz, Poland, March 17, 2022.
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Being Ready and Responsive
p Members of the 62nd Engineer Detachment, Forward Engineer Support Team-Advance (FEST-A), on the left, and members of the 34th Engineer Detachment, FEST-A, on the right, pose together as they transition missions on Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, Germany, March 1, 2022. The departing 62nd FEST-A, based out of USACE’s Alaska District, recently completed a rotational deployment in Europe and was welcoming the incoming 34th FEST-A, based out of USACE’s Seattle District. Both teams are made up of a mix of Soldiers and civilian engineers from throughout the United States. The 34th FEST-A will be providing engineering support to U.S. Army Europe and Africa and Atlantic Resolve units, missions, and exercises for several months over the course of a rotational deployment.
(FEST-M), which averages about 36 to 38 Soldiers and civilians with expertise in electrical, mechanical, civil, and environ mental engineering, as well as in logistics, contracting, and resource management.
Other FFE components include:
• Forward Engineer Support TeamsAdvance (FEST-A): FEST-A teams provide engineering planning/design support and limited infrastructure assessment.
• The Contingency Real Estate Support Teams (CRESTs): Assist in the acqui sition, management, and disposal of real estate on behalf of the federal government during contingencies.
• Environmental Support Team (En vST): An expeditionary team of specialists who support the combatant
commands during war, contingency operations, and disaster relief.
• Logistics Support Team: Specialists who support the reception of de ploying USACE personnel, including transportation and lodging, and the supply of USACE operations.
• Base-camp Development Teams (BDTs): These specialists are not deployed, but serve as a resource for planning, designing, and building facilities such as forward operating bases, displaced personnel camps, and staging bases. They also provide technical support for contingency op erations, disaster response, training, and exercises.
BDT and other stateside support for these operations are provided through
86 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
p The new Lower Yellowstone intake diversion canal headworks structure sits on the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana, approximately 70 miles upstream from the mouth of the river, July 25, 2022. The diversion dam allows for approximately 55,000 acres on 500 farms in eastern Montana and western North Dakota to be irrigated using the waters of the Yellowstone River. USACE is adapting how it operates and manages existing water infrastructure to support drought resilience.
the USACE Reachback Operations Center (UROC) at the U.S. Army Engineer Re search and Development Center (ERDC). UROC enables the real-time sharing of USACE expertise to support deployed forces – or any forces requiring specialized assistance.
Beyond “Response”: Managing the Life Cycle of Risk
USACE’s emergency management program was grown from its original mandate to respond with skill and agility to emergent challenges. The Corps of Engineers’ first official disaster relief mission was conducted in 1882, when it supported the Army’s efforts to rescue people and property during massive floods throughout much of the lower Mississippi Valley. Over the decades, USACE’s response mission expanded from floodfighting to other hazards, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, when the NRF began to take shape, that USACE established a formal emergency management program.
Under the NRF, a series of scripted actions is set into motion once a disaster is
declared – or, in the case of “notice” events such as an approaching storm, in antici pation of an imminent disaster. The NRF spells out 15 different ESFs to be carried out in a federal disaster response. In addi tion to its leadership authority for ESF #3, Public Works and Engineering, USACE is a supporting agency for several others – for example, if FEMA activates ESF #9, Urban Search and Rescue, for an incident, USACE lends personnel to the operation.
USACE’s emergency management exper tise is gathered into more than 30 Planning and Response Teams (PRTs), formed at the district level and composed of civilian em ployee volunteers trained and credentialed for their team’s particular function. PRTs are the backbone of USACE’s domestic emergency response: providing water and key commodities; assessing the soundness of infrastructure for emergency access; providing temporary roofing, housing, or critical facilities; assisting with searchand-rescue operations; removing debris or mitigating floodwaters; and providing – with the help of experts from USACE’s 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power)
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 87 USACE
PHOTO BY JASON COLBERT
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Being Ready and Responsive
t Peggy Bebb, an ENGlink support specialist from the Jacksonville District, updates data for deployed personnel in response to Hurricane Fiona. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had received FEMA Mission Assignments (MAs) for regional activation and temporary emergency power in response to Hurricane Fiona. Under these MAs, USACE deployed a temporary emergency power planning and response team, Soldiers from the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power), team leaders and assistant team leaders, as well as subject-matter experts in logistics, temporary power, infrastructure assessment, and debris removal.
help of experts from USACE’s 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) – emergency power to critical facilities.
PRTs are often deployed in support of FFE responses to overseas contingencies, and USACE shares their expertise with international and regional partners, engaging in bilateral technical consultations with nations such as Japan, Mexico, and China. Since 1996, the Corps of Engineers has helped partner nations in Europe and Central Asia develop emergency management skills through the Civil Military Emergency Preparation (CMEP) program. CMEP supports U.S. national security strategies while encouraging peace and cooperation among allies.
The early 21st century is a critical time in the evolution of USACE’s emergency management efforts – whose paradigm has already evolved long past the concept of “response.” USACE and its partners
long ago began expanding their focus beyond what they must do under the National Response Framework – which “switches on” after a disaster has struck –to what they can do, not only to make sure a response works efficiently, but also to prevent as much harm and loss as possible while enabling more resilient communities and infrastructure.
“We call it the life cycle of risk management for all hazards,” said Stephen Hill, USACE’s director of contingency operations and chief, Office of Homeland Security. “There’s the preparation piece we’re doing during blue sky” – the emergency management community’s term for the downtime between disasters – “and the emergency response piece – and that’s followed up by recovery operations, which begins by looking at integrating more resilience: How do we take actions that will ensure we don’t have the same level of damage in the future? That mitigation
piece is something FEMA is increasingly working to implement.”
This shift in emphasis is due in part to changes in circumstances. “Water resiliency,” for example, is a relatively new area of emphasis for USACE. In July 2022, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor directed USACE to use its authorities and capabilities to address the drought crisis, particularly in the American West, where several communities have resorted to trucking in water supplies. USACE, said Hill, is authorized to transport emergency supplies of clean drinking water to any drought-distressed area – but the notion of “responding” to drought suggests an opportunity already missed: USACE will adapt how it operates existing water infrastructure; how it manages navigation, hydropower, recreation, and storage projects; and continue to develop data and modeling tools to support drought resilience.
According to Hill, USACE has also been responsive to the growing number and intensity of wildfires in the West – many of which are followed by soil erosion and the spread of invasive plants in burn zones. Federal law gives USACE the authority to provide technical assistance for preparedness, response, and recovery, and over
BY MARK RANKIN
88 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
t Supporting the temporary power mission in an Engineer Command and Control Vehicle (ECCV) deployed to Ponce, Puerto Rico, are (left to right)
WSP (USACE contractor) Operations Chief Claudia A. Zuczuski, 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power); Staff Sgt. Mohammed Jitu; and Walla Walla District’s Chandra Crow. USACE’s Deployable Tactical Operating System (DTOS) communications units and the ECCV were pre-staged in Puerto Rico for rapid emergency response during hurricane season.
the last 10 years, USACE has supported 17 post-wildfire watershed stabilization events in seven western states. After wildfires raged through nearly 900,000 acres of New Mexico over the first half of 2022, the Corps of Engineers helped lead the effort to protect community water supplies by either diverting or impeding runoff, often by placing boulders, riprap, or gabion baskets on sloped terrain.
“Living in a Different Age”
USACE has not had to develop a new set of skills to manage the risks associated with wildfires. What’s new, said Hill, is the scope, intensity, and frequency of climate-influenced disasters such as wildfires, drought, and hurricanes. “The FEMA administrator talks about us living in a different age,” he said. “And we
s ay that every decade – but I see more people who believe that now than ever before.”
In mid-September, Hill visited Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Fiona had knocked out power to all 1.5 million customers, throughout the entire island. A couple of weeks later, while Fiona was forcing port closures in eastern Canada, 1,900 miles to the north, USACE was helping coordinate a response to Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in southwest Florida on Sept. 28, 2022, as a Category 4 hurricane.
The response to Ian was huge, demanding the deployment of 351 USACE personnel, who were themselves given virtual support by 161 others at the Corps of Engineers, and who oversaw the work of 2,469 contractors. The teams completed 9,913 infrastructure assessments and 260
power assessments, and contracted for the installation of 20,125 temporary roofs.
Given the pace and scale of such operations, said Hill, it’s reasonable to think that the way USACE achieves its emergency management mission will have to change. “There’s a lot of pressure to be more efficient,” he said. All-volunteer PRTs, leaving their day jobs for extended deployments – sometimes multiple deployments, in sequence – may not be the answer much longer. “That worked 15, 20 years ago, before Katrina,” said Hill. “Now the queue is so significant that the ability to pull volunteers is increasingly difficult.”
It’s an issue that’s being discussed among Hill and other USACE leaders, and, as yet, there’s no definitive answer about how future PRTs will be configured. “Maybe a bigger core cadre of full-time experts, with a reserve team that comes in, can better address what seems to be a persistent level of response and recovery efforts.”
It’s not that Hill thinks USACE and its partners in emergency management need to work faster, he said. “I think it’s about gaining levels of efficiency through innovation – simple things, like using our data more broadly. Traditionally, the Corps of Engineers pulls together three or four experts on a topic, and they make decisions and move forward.”
It’s impossible, Hill said, for these four people, brilliant as they may be, to digest and analyze all the data available to
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 89
USACE PHOTO BY BRIGIDA I. SANCHEZ
“The FEMA administrator talks about us living in a different age. And we say that every decade but I see more people who believe that now than ever before.”
Stephen Hill, USACE Director of Contingency Operations and Chief, Office of Homeland Security
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS Being Ready and Responsive
USACE. For now, he said, the Army’s unclassified common operating picture (UCOP) is comprised of data that sits on different platforms, and is written and stored in different formats. But in recent years, the Army Geospatial Center (AGC) and other USACE research and devel opment components have helped with precisely the kind of innovation Hill is
looking for: During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, AGC used the best predictive models available and turned them into “heat maps” that gave FEMA and federal partners and idea of where USACE would most likely be building alter native care structures to build capacity for overwhelmed medical facilities. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the 20,125
temporary roofs in southwest Florida were coordinated through an automated system using GIS and other data – rights of entry, requests for support, work orders, struc tural assessments, bills of materials – to push contractors out into the communities and provide shelter to storm survivors.
“All of this can happen very efficiently,” said David Hibner, director of the AGC, “and we save an enormous amount of time and money – but the most important thing, I think, in these tough times when American citizens need us the most, is
90 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
p Crews work to install tarps on houses in Sanibel, Florida, that sustained damage from Hurricane Ian as part of Operation Blue Roof on Oct. 26.
that we’re helping restore some level of normalcy faster by using these automated dashboards and other systems through our UCOP.”
The future will involve a bigger and more complex set of variables that will factor into making the best decisions, said Hill – for example, a straight cost-benefit analysis may become just one of many de terminants in the allocation of civil works resources. Increasingly, federal partners are urging the adoption of other criteria, including environmental and economic justice, for determining how to best serve the nation. Few people think it’s a coinci dence that Jackson, Mississippi, (individual annual income average: $23,714) and Flint, Michigan, ($18,253) have been among the handful of American communities to suffer a failure of their water supplies.
“Our program is slated to spend somewhere between $80 [billion] and $100 billion over the next five years to
p Erica Medley, a dam safety geologist with USACE’s Portland District, makes her way through thick smoke and fallen trees as she surveys damage on site at Blue River Dam Sept. 14, 2020. Medley joined a multi-disciplinary team of operations, engineering, and dam safety personnel for a detailed inspection of the project just days after the Holiday Farm Fire burned through the area, impacting Blue River and nearby Cougar Dam in the Willamette Valley.
incorporate resiliency,” Hill said. “That’s focused on sea level rise and climate change, while also applying what we’ve learned about drought – or the need for water resiliency, which is a better term for what we do. And it’s also going to take a look at environmental justice and the needs of our disadvantaged commu nities. It’s what the Corps does: We’re learning to look and see what challenges lie ahead.” AE
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 91 COURTESY PHOTO USACE NORTHWESTERN DIVISION
Establishing Regional Curation Centers for Archaeological Collections
t Ignacio Reyes, archaeological laboratory technician, works on photographing artifacts at the Veterans Curation Program’s open house in Alexandria, Virginia, Jan. 12, 2016.
“By ensuring all our collections are in federally compliant facilities, we can be better stewards of our nation’s heritage,” said Falls.
This enterprise effort is being led through the USACE Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections (MCX CMAC) located within the St. Louis District.
“The issue we’re facing right now is most USACE collections cannot be easily accessed by researchers since the collections are scattered throughout a variety of facilities,” Falls explained. “Through Baltimore District’s regionalization efforts, we hope to safely relocate collections to fewer facilities within our area to make it easier for tribal representatives, specifically, to visit collections.”
Over the past several years, Eva Falls, Baltimore District archaeologist, and other archaeologists from across USACE’s North Atlantic Division, have been working diligently to compile all known data on USACE artifact collections from Virginia to Maine.
All current collections – totaling nearly 50,000 cubic feet – will coalesce into regional centers, reducing repositories from more than 150 to
under 25 nationwide, or approximately three to four regional repositories per USACE division. The number of regional repositories established will be based on several factors, including geography, cultural areas, and volume of collections.
For Baltimore District, this program will improve transparency and accessibility of archaeological collections throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
BY EVA FALLS AND BRITTANY CRISSMAN
Another mission of the regionalization effort is to increase digitalization of collections to enhance accessibility through technology. To accomplish this, USACE uses the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), an international digital repository for records of archaeological investigations worldwide.
NATIVE AMERICAN GRAVES
AND REPATRIATION ACT
Some of these archaeological collections include human skeletal remains and cultural items that are subject to the identification and repatriation requirements contained in the Native
BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Baltimore District 92 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
Baltimore District is participating in a nationwide effort to properly care for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) archaeological collections through the establishment of regional curation centers.
PHOTO BY SARAH LAZO
American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
The MCX CMAC delivers centralized management, administration, and policy development for USACE-wide compliance with archaeological collections management and regulatory requirements associated with NAGPRA.
Movement of NAGPRA collections from current repositories to regional centers will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Baltimore District hopes the regionalization process will lead to the repatriation of its current NAGPRA inventory.
“This process can be very emotional and challenging for tribal nations,” said Falls.
VETERANS CURATION PROGRAM
USACE established the Veterans Curation Program (VCP) in 2009. It employs and provides training to veterans and members of the Armed Forces to assist in the curation of USACE-owned collections.
There are currently five VCP locations that support 12 USACE districts. More than 400 veterans have participated in the program, with 90% of graduates finding permanent employment and/or continued education.
may be stood up nearby based on the need for collections rehabilitation and an available veteran population in the area.
Baltimore District currently has collections being processed at the VCP in Alexandria, Virginia, and will be moving another collection to the VCP in San Mateo, California, in fiscal year 2023.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
An important component of this regionalization effort is meaningful consultation about the disposition of these collections with tribal nations who have ancestral ties to them.
“Just over 30 years ago, in 1990, federally recognized tribes were finally given rights to the remains of their ancestors and sacred artifacts, which is also why this program is so important.”
Through VCP, archaeological digital content is generated and made available on tDAR to be accessed and used by tribal members, educators, researchers and the public. More than 44,000 photographs and scans have been created through this program to provide greater access to collections.
“We are committed to this regionalization process, so we can better support tribal nations access to archaeological collections, and, most importantly, reconnect them with their heritage,” said Falls.
As this process moves forward, Baltimore District will continue to make every effort to address tribal concerns and be better partners. AE U.S.
Once regional curation centers are established, additional VCP laboratories
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PHOTO BY SARAH LAZO
p Baltimore District archaeologists Eva Falls and Ethan Bean examine soil collected by the district’s drilling team as part of a geo-archaeological site investigation for an improvement project for the Washington Aqueduct at Fort Reno Park, Washington, Aug. 12, 2019.
Providing a Sense of Security: USACE NATO Missions
When Ivana Lowe’s clients see her, they feel relaxed and can let go of their everyday worries. As an esthetician on Long Island, New York, her days are filled with giving massages, facials, and pedicures that involve warm sudsy water, casual conversation, or maybe a client nodding off. This was what she dreamed of when she left Poland 30 years ago, as Ivana Zanio, for a better life.
Now she wishes she could give her family living in Poland this same comfort. “Just like what Russia is doing to Ukraine they could do to Poland and all different European countries. I talk to my family. They are scared right now. They really are scared,” Lowe said of her family, who still live in a small city in the northeast corner of the country.
Russia’s unwarranted aggression into Ukraine has been cause for concern for other nearby countries – like Poland, which is a NATO member.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Europe District is working on several missions in Poland in support of its NATO allies that include housing, equipping, and training U.S. troops. These missions aim to deter and not escalate potential aggression and provide a sense of security for citizens of NATO countries.
HOUSING U.S. SOLDIERS
If U.S. troops are sent to a NATO country to provide support, they need living areas. Europe District’s Real Estate Office heads this effort, as well as many other real estate
BY JOANNE CASTAGNA
functions throughout Europe. “Our office acquires, manages, releases, and disposes of real estate interests – like leases, licenses, and international agreements – for approximately 1,700 contract requirements in support of our partners in Europe,” said Anne Kosel, Europe District, chief of the Real Estate Division.
USACE North Atlantic Division Chief of Interagency, International and Environmental Division Ravi Ajodah said, “When things were not looking good for Ukraine and U.S. troops were being deployed to Poland, the district’s Real Estate Office had to act quickly. They worked with our Polish allies to lease land that is now being used to provide shelter for troops with the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.”
With additional troops recently deployed, including some to Poland, approximately 100,000 troops are now currently stationed throughout Europe – the highest concentration of American forces in Europe since the end of World War II.
Roughly 12,000 of those U.S. troops are in Poland to train with Polish forces and to assist with evacuees from Ukraine, many of whom arrived after Ukraine was invaded on Feb. 24, 2022.
Lowe said, “Ukraine evacuees in Poland are getting housing and work. They’ve adopted Poland, the country, for themselves. With the U.S. helping Poland, they must feel protected. They feel like they have somebody behind them. They are thankful for that.”
EQUIPPED AND READY
If a NATO country is attacked, deployed U.S. troops will need equipment quickly.
USACE, in collaboration with Polish contractors, is constructing a combat-configured storage complex in Powidz, Poland, to store equipment for U.S. troops. Christopher Gardner, acting public affairs chief of Europe District, said, “This complex is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe and will augment the handful of similar, older sites the Army operates in Western Europe in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy.”
The project is primarily funded by NATO and Europe District, noted Senior Project Engineer James O’Riley, saying, “This is the largest NATO investment in the last 30 years and will allow the rapid deployment of a full armor combat brigade wherever it may be needed.”
The complex will be operated by the U.S. Army’s 405th Army Field Support Brigade in partnership with local Polish forces.
Gardner also said the overall storage facility will comprise roughly 650,000 square feet of humidity-controlled warehouse space, including a vehicle maintenance facility, several additional supporting facilities, and 58,000 square feet of earth-covered munitions storage. In addition, USACE constructed rail tracks and links to facilitate the movement of equipment to and from the site.
Gardner added that the complex will store approximately 85 battle tanks, 190 armored combat vehicles, 36 armored artillery vehicles, and four armored vehicle launched bridges, along with other supporting equipment.
These storage complexes save critical time. If there wasn’t a facility, moving this amount of equipment from the United States
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to Poland could take from 45 to 60 days. With this new site in Poland, the time line is reduced to from four to seven days to issue the equipment for operational employment.
Even in times when there is no conflict, these facilities are useful. The stored equipment can be drawn for use in training and exercises.
The complex is expected to be completed late this winter or early spring, and additional structures are expected to be added to it in the future, such as an airflight hangar.
In addition to this new complex, USACE has been modernizing the existing storage facilities that support readiness throughout Europe within western NATO countries since 2017.
O’Riley noted current events in Eastern Europe have punctuated the importance
of projects like this storage facility in Powidz and others in the region. He added, “I’m quite proud of what we’re doing here. It helps build a safer world and build NATO’s presence and capabilities.”
Gardner added that this work is in addition to dozens of comparatively smaller construction projects USACE has completed at various bases in Poland in recent years. He said, “These range from renovating and building new facilities at the Polish military base in Poznan, where the forward element of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps, or V Corps, was recently moved, to working closely with Polish partners and the U.S. Army’s 7th Army Training Command on improvements to Polish training areas that benefit U.S., Polish and other partner forces that use the sites for regular training and international exercises.”
The work is not just in support of Soldiers. USACE personnel have also overseen design and construction of projects like runway improvements and administrative facilities at Poland’s Lask Air Base, which supports NATO air policing operations and is where U.S. Air Force personnel regularly partner with Polish allies.
With equipment ready, troops will need training.
Europe District is working in close coordination with Polish partners and the U.S. Army’s 7th Army Training Command on the upgrading of several training ranges throughout Poland – including in Zagan and Drawsko Pomorskie – that are used by U.S. troops, Polish, and other partner forces for regular training and international exercises.
Many of the current training grounds have not been updated in decades and USACE is getting them into shape for the 21st century.
“We’re doing everything from ground improvements to vehicle maintenance
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PHOTO BY CHRIS GARDNER
p USACE Europe District area engineer August Carrillo walks by offices for the U.S. Army’s V Corps on the Polish army base in Poznan, Poland, March 16, 2022. The Polish army shares the facility and recently completed overall exterior and interior renovations of the portion used by Polish personnel. Europe District is in the planning stages for renovating the interior portion of the facility where U.S. personnel will work.
BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE North Atlantic Division
facilities to range towers and anything that facilitates training at these ranges,” said Israel Miller, civilian civil engineer, Europe District, who has supported a variety of training range improvement projects at Polish military training ranges across the country over the past several years.
Miller said that training ranges in Poland help our Polish allies maintain readiness and the ability to defend themselves and are important for joint training, too, where Polish forces, U.S. forces, and other allies train together.
Ajodah, who oversees the work being performed by the Europe District for NATO,
said, “Deterrence measures like all of the ones mentioned are important for several reasons the general public should understand. First, they provide a stable world. It’s in our best economic, societal, and cultural interest. It’s nice to travel to Europe knowing that you’re going to be safe. Second, they help our NATO allies promote a sense of stability. Third, they prevent escalation. Things can get out of hand pretty quickly. If we are not careful, greater, more devastating conflicts can happen. Bringing military equipment into Europe and providing shelter for U.S. troops is not done to get ready for war, it’s done to prevent war from
happening. It’s not in our interest to have a long-drawn-out war that would only negatively impact citizens.
“And last, we may forget it, but we are globally connected, whether it’s the stuff we buy or where we travel. Having the bad guys know the largest and strongest military of mankind is trying to keep the peace and be ready, that should be enough to stand down conflicts.”
Lowe’s family in Poland may not know the exact details of these USACE missions supporting NATO, but they’re certainly feeling what the United States wants them to feel – a sense of security. She said, “My family in Poland is very grateful for what the United States is doing and that there are U.S. troops on the ground just in case something happens. They feel protected.” AE
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ARMY PHOTO BY ALFREDO BARRAZA
p A Polish Army Leopard 2 tank is the first to cross the newly completed bridge over the River Kwisa at the Zagan Swietoszów Training Area in Poland during a ceremony there May 24, 2022.
PHOTO BY KATELYN NEWTON
Louisville District Aids in Eastern Kentucky Response, Recovery After Historic Floods
Southeast Kentucky received up to 8 inches of rain during the evening of July 28, 2022, that resulted in the most catastrophic flooding event in the region’s recorded history. As the people of eastern Kentucky begin to rebuild, they face more than the devastating toll of lost loved ones and belongings. There are tons of muck, mire, and debris to be dealt with. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Louisville District is playing a vital role in those recovery efforts, providing support to the commonwealth, and simultaneously cleaning up two of its own lake projects that withstood the flood and prevented millions of dollars in additional downstream damage.
t USACE Louisville District Operations Division Chief Waylon Humphrey briefs Brig. Gen. Kimberly Peeples, USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander, during a flyover of Buckhorn Lake in eastern Kentucky, Aug. 12, 2022.
Buckhorn Lake in Buckhorn, Kentucky, and Carr Creek Lake in Sassafras, Kentucky – Louisville District projects in the Kentucky River Basin – held back tremendous amounts of water that would have inundated downstream communities even more without their operation.
The lakes are part of an overall system of reservoirs managed by USACE to store water from heavy rains until the rivers and streams are at levels at which releases from the reservoirs will not cause additional flooding downstream. Many recreation areas at the lakes suffered damage, but the two flood risk management reservoirs served their intended purpose.
“Having our lakes in place prevented greater devastation in Hazard and Jackson and those areas downstream,” said Willie Whitaker, Louisville District Upper Kentucky Area operations manager. “These projects helped prevent even greater loss of life and property damage.”
Buckhorn Lake, on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River, recorded more than 8 inches of rain within a 24-hour period. The lake rose 25 feet above summer pool at the height of the event.
“I never thought I would see this kind of event,” said Dewayne Shouse, Louisville District project manager at Buckhorn Lake. “It was a historic event, that’s for sure. We have had flash floods in this area before, but nothing quite like this.”
Preliminary estimates from the district indicate Buckhorn Lake reduced the estimated flood level downstream at Tallega, Kentucky, by more than 5 feet and provided more than $1.5 million in flood damage reduction benefits to communities downstream.
“We helped the greater river system,” said Shouse. “This project held back a lot of water – a lot of water.”
The same can be said for Carr Creek Lake on the North Fork of the Kentucky River,
BY KATIE NEWTON
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BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Louisville District
where a new record pool was set at 1,050 feet – 22 feet above normal summer pool.
“I have seen normal slow-rising floods at Carr before, but this flash flood was crazy,” said Jesse Saylor, Louisville District project manager at Carr Creek Lake. “It was rising in feet each hour. Not inches – feet.”
Preliminary estimates from the Louisville District indicate Carr Creek Lake reduced the flood level by more than 16 feet in Sassafras, Kentucky, more than 4 feet in Hazard, and more than 3 feet at Jackson, and provided more than $15.9 million in flood damage reduction benefits.
During the early hours of July 28, as water levels rose, USACE personnel sprang into action.
Buckhorn Lake Park Ranger Jacob Kramer was alerted that there was extreme flooding in the tailwater campground from heavy rainfall occurring in Squabble Creek, a tributary adjacent to the Buckhorn Dam tailwater.
“Kramer immediately utilized his cross-training in dam tending and back-up generator operation and rushed to completely close off the outflow of Buckhorn Lake to lessen the impacts of flash flooding downstream, and quickly moved to evacuate park attendants and campers from the impending flash flooding,” said Whitaker.
“We immediately went into 24/7 shifts,” said Whitaker. “We just kicked things into an incredible speed and resorted back to our training to do what had to be done.”
Employees worked around the clock monitoring the dam, managing flows, and communicating with stakeholders and members of the public.
“I send my deepest appreciation to our teammates who weathered the storm, literally, to perform gate operations at our dams,” said Louisville District Commander Col. Eric Crispino. “The Louisville District is a team of consummate professionals who sacrifice selflessly for our mission, and their service does not go unrecognized.
“In the immediate aftermath of the flood, our dam safety personnel deployed to inspect our dams, ensuring they were structurally sound and operating as intended, and members of the Louisville District Water Management and Dam
p Eric Springston, geotechnical engineer with USACE’s Louisville District (right), discusses bridge inspection findings with Chris Allen, District 12 bridge engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Aug. 8, 2022, in Knott County, Kentucky. Geotechnical engineers were inspecting and documenting bridge damage resulting from the recent flooding in eastern Kentucky.
Safety teams worked closely with lake staff to ensure the projects were properly storing water and providing a reduction to the flooding occurring downstream,” said Crispino.
Lake staff have since worked relentlessly to begin cleanup and repair efforts at both lakes. USACE recreational areas at Buckhorn and Carr Creek lakes remain closed until repairs can be completed.
“We will clean it up and rebuild it,” said Whitaker. “We’ll get it cleaned up a load at a time, 1,000 feet at a time, but we’ll get it back.”
Some Louisville District teammates also suffered losses of their own homes and possessions.
“The realities of what everyone here has faced are devastating,” said Whitaker. “We’ve all in this area been through a lot, and we’re all forever crocheted together because of it.”
Across the commonwealth, long-term recovery efforts continue. Under the direction of FEMA, USACE serves as the lead agency providing public works and engineering support to state and local governments responding to major disasters.
“We are working in coordination with the state and FEMA to provide technical assistance and supplies,” said George Minges, Louisville District emergency management chief. “We ... have provided more than 11,500 sandbags to the state, and we are prepared and ready to provide additional support, if needed.”
The technical assistance Louisville District is providing for the commonwealth includes debris assessments; inspections of critical public facilities, such as water treatment plants and schools; engineer assessments of bridges, roads, and culverts; and technical monitoring of debris removal in streams and waterways.
The district had a debris expert embedded at the State Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, with a technical assistance team of five experts conducting joint damage assessments throughout the 12 affected counties alongside FEMA and Kentucky Emergency Management personnel.
Additional teams of engineers from USACE’s Louisville and Huntington districts have performed road and bridge infrastructure assessments to support the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in coordination with the Kentucky Army National Guard.
“It is heartbreaking to see the commonwealth dealing with yet another natural disaster,” said Crispino. “There has only been a short reprieve from the most recent disaster and follow-on recovery efforts in Mayfield, Kentucky, but our emergency management team has the muscle memory to respond accordingly to meet the needs of our stakeholders. Our team has strong relationships with our state and federal partners, and we are fully prepared and ready to respond.” AE
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PHOTO BY CHARLES DELANO
Gate Keepers: Installing New Miter Gates at New Cumberland Requires Planning, Time, Extra Measures
In carpentry, the saying goes, “measure twice, cut once,” but on a construction project involving steel gates weighing as much as 11 school buses, there never seems to be an end to measuring.
“It took us months and months of planning. We had a lot of meetings of just measuring, and measuring, and measuring to figure out how we can boom the gates down into place,” said Kevin McConnell, the maintenance mechanic supervisor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Medium Capacity Fleet.
The fleet is currently at the New Cumberland Locks and Dams on the Ohio River to replace four miter gates for the lock’s auxiliary chamber. Each gate weighs at least 165 tons, measuring 61 feet wide and 30 feet tall on the upstream and 40 feet tall on the downstream side. Each gate weighs as much as three Army tanks. The crew will have to counterbalance a crane with water to prevent it from toppling over during the lift.
“One wrong move could swing a gate out of control and destroy the fleet if it crashes upon it,” McConnell said. “It’s a lot more involved than just, ‘Hey, just pick it up and set it over there.’”
BY MICHEL SAURET
The lock’s auxiliary chamber has been out of commission since 2016, leaving only the main chamber to operate solo for six years.
“It’s something that had to be dealt with,” McConnell said. “You can’t rely on just one chamber. Eventually, the main chamber will need maintenance, and if that main chamber goes down, it shuts the entire river down here.”
Power plants and other industries rely on locks to transport commodities along the river year-round. More than 184 million tons of cargo, including coal, grain, steel, and chemical, petroleum, and construction materials travel on the Ohio River.
Six years ago, an inspection discovered the gates were severely worn and could not be repaired. Miter gates seal the lock chamber and control the water level inside it to act as an elevator. Except these 60-year-old gates were rotted and full of holes.
“They were so bad, you could put your hand through the thing,” said Chris Smidl, the onsite operations project engineer for the Pittsburgh District.
p The upstream and downstream miter gates are staged for installation at the New Cumberland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Moraine, Ohio, Aug. 10, 2022. USACE’s Medium Capacity Fleet has been working to replace the gates of the auxiliary lock, with repairs projected to complete by 2024.
Normally, miter gates can last more than a century if inspected and maintained every 10 to 20 years, but due to a lack of funding in the region, the gates reached a point of irreparable damage.
“They were shot. We sent them to the scrap yard, where they cut them up to recycle them. They may be your next refrigerator,” McConnell joked of the old hunks of steel.
Before installing the new gates, the fleet’s mechanics rehabilitated the anchorage assembly with new steel to hold the weight of the gates.
“It’s a careful process in which large steel parts have to be aligned within an eighth-ofan-inch,” Smidl said.
If the anchorages are not perfectly aligned, the gates won’t swing open or seal shut properly.
“To get one of these anchorages out, you’re saw-cutting the concrete,” McConnell said. “You’re busting the concrete. You’re burning rivets off. Knocking rivets out. We’re talking about rivets that have been there since the late ’50s and early ’60s.
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U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS PITTSBURGH
PHOTO BY MICHEL SAURET
BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Pittsburgh District
t Left: A boatcrew with USACE’s Medium Capacity Fleet rides past an opened miter gate at the New Cumberland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Moraine, Ohio, Aug. 10, 2022. The Medium Capacity Fleet is headquartered in Pittsburgh, but operated by the Huntington District to perform maintenance and repair projects on the rivers for waterway navigation. The New Cumberland facility is operated by the USACE Pittsburgh District. q Middle: Crewmembers with USACE’s Medium Capacity Fleet perform repairs at the New Cumberland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River in Moraine, Ohio, Aug. 10, 2022. q Bottom: Dale Hohman, captain of USACE’s Medium Capacity Fleet, talks on the radio while navigating a tow boat at the New Cumberland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River, Aug. 10, 2022.
We’re taking all this old steel and fitting brand new steel, welding it together.”
The fleet performs year-round repairs on the three major rivers around Pittsburgh. The crewmembers work 10-hour days, 12 days in a row, with only two days off. Yet, the shifts overlap, so there is never a pause in operation.
“Everybody on the fleet has a trade, but they all seem to master multiple skills,” Smidl said.
Due to their nonstop work ethic and all the pre-planning involved, Smidl estimates the fleet can accomplish work in two months that would typically take a year to finish. The chamber has been out of commission for six years due to a lack of funds, not willpower.
“That’s why they exist,” Smidl said of the Medium Capacity Fleet’s crew. “I’m always impressed with how quickly they can solve issues and come up with solutions. They have that steel-worker mentality. They’re just here to get the job done. No obstacle will get in their way.”
The fleet plans to hang and install the first two gates by the end of August 2022. For the next 12 months, the medium fleet has work scheduled at other locking facilities along the Ohio and Monongahela rivers. They will return to New Cumberland next year to drain the chamber and complete the final phase of construction. USACE expects the auxiliary chamber to be complete late 2023. AE
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PITTSBURGH DISTRICT PHOTOS BY MICHEL SAURET
p Above: As viewed on Oct. 14, 2022, the new 325th Force Support Squadron Child Development Center (CDC) continues construction at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The completion of the new CDC facility will mark a massive milestone in Tyndall’s rebuilding efforts toward becoming the “Installation of the Future.”
After Hurricane Michael hit Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Panama City, Florida, in October 2018, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mobile District formed a partnership with the vision to build the “Installation of the Future.”
USACE provides many services for the Air Force, including humanitarian assistance and responding to natural
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PHOTO CHUCK WALKER
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BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Mobile District
Four Years Later: USACE and Tyndall AFB Continue Partnership in Base Rebuild
disasters. Prior to Hurricane Michael, USACE engineers existed on the base to implement a small number of construction projects on a limited basis.
The Mobile District’s mission is to provide construction, maintain, and operate key infrastructure projects that contribute to the nation’s economy, environment, safety, and quality of life, now and in the future.
When Hurricane Michael hit Tyndall AFB in particular, the base received $5 billion in damages.
“Hurricane Michael destroyed 99% of the base,” said Col. Patrick Combs, Tyndall AFB program integration officer in charge. “What the Tyndall team has accomplished so far is remarkable considering the circumstances they were faced with when they took on the task of the rebuild.”
The Air Force decided to rebuild the base because it’s a strategic location, not only for the service, but also for the Department of Defense to ensure air superiority. Tyndall adjoins the Gulf Range Complex (GRC), comprised of 180,000 square miles of training airspace over the Gulf of Mexico. The GRC is one of the few ranges in the United States capable of supporting large-scale air combat training. Direct access to this range is essential for fifth-generation fighter readiness, for fourthand fifth-generation fighter interoperability, and for livefire testing and training.
The challenge of rebuilding the base became an opportunity for the Mobile District
ERDC Uses Digital Twin Technology to Re-create Damaged Air Force Base
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has partnered with Tyndall Air Force Base to complete a multibillion-dollar reconstruction project, and with the help of the Research and Development Environment (RDE) network and digital twin technology, Tyndall is on its way to being the country’s most advanced military installation to date – an Installation of the Future.
When Hurricane Michael came ashore, in 2018, 60% of the base was destroyed, and leadership faced a looming question of what to do next. The decision was made to not just rebuild, but to build back smarter and fully capable to take on the 21st century.
Tyndall partnered with ERDC to place Senior Scientific Technical Manager Lance Marrano on site to serve as
BY CLAIBORNE COOKSEY
a science and technology adviser and assist with navigating technological innovations during the reconstruction process. Marrano also serves as a lead researcher for Installations of the Future, a Department of Defense initiative focused on sustainability, technology, and adaptability.
After hearing from Tyndall leadership, Marrano decided that a digital twin of the base – a digital replica of physical assets, processes, people, and places – was needed.
“In as realistic and virtual a world as possible, digital twin technology is about re-creating the base, the buildings, the roads, the runways, the utilities, and saying, ‘Now what questions does that enable us to answer?’” Marrano said.
With digital twin technology, users are able to virtually step inside the base and experience construction plans first hand. Being able to “walk through” areas of new con-
p The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has partnered with Tyndall Air Force Base to complete a multibillion-dollar reconstruction project after Hurricane Michael destroyed 60% of the base in 2018. The use of digital twin technology has allowed leadership at Tyndall to virtually experience reconstruction plans, make decisions more easily, and perfect operations before actual construction begins.
struction gives users the opportunity to offer feedback and make changes before actual construction begins.
“Some people have no idea if their drawings are going to work for their mission, because they aren’t used to looking at blueprints,” said Marrano. “Right now, we can physically go through the door and walk through the rooms of the existing buildings. We are able to take them through their buildings and receive immediate feedback, which will save thousands of dollars in changes down the road.”
“As we input new designs from the architect, we can attach them to the construction schedule, enabling us to see what the base will look like [in] six months, one year, and at the end of reconstruction,” he continued. “That is a benefit in and of itself.”
Though it may take several years until Tyndall Air Force Base is finished, Marrano and his team are focusing on quick turnaround times for their part.
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CENTER, LANCE MURRANO, PH.D.
BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Mobile District
“After an architect submits a building design for review, we are trying to have a one-day turn around to input that information into the digital twin,” said Marrano. “It is about being agile. We built this so that anyone can literally pull up the file, push a button, and update the digital twin.”
Marrano said that building a digital twin of Tyndall would not have been possible without the Defense Research and Engineering Network connection and the RDE services, and he credits the team and computer experts for being re sponsive at all hours of the night.
“Creation of a digital twin requires a signifi cant amount of subject-matter expertise in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software analytics,” said David Horner, Ph.D., director of ERDC’s Information Tech nology Laboratory. “Our laboratory is uniquely positioned to meet this need. Great things lie ahead.”
ERDC is not only making an impact at Tyn dall – the entire Air Force is benefitting from the effort. These advancements will also enable the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enhance the delivery of facilities to Army customers as well. ERDC’s Construction Engineering and Re search Laboratory, Environmental Laboratory, and Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) are all using digital twin technology to expand their research.
Upcoming enhancements include the ability to visualize flooding and storm surge using CHL’s hurricane models to better identify and prepare vulnerable facilities. This is all made possible by ERDC’s Hololab, which opened in March 2022 and serves as a portal for exploring everything from planning and design to security vulnerabilities. With the advanced capabili ties of the RDE, remote accessibility is also a possibility.
When asked why digital twin technology is so important for the future, Marrano further proved that ERDC is in the business of solving the nation’s most challenging problems.
“Right now, we have security forces using our digital twin technology to virtually prepare for active-shooter situations,” he said. “We presented this technology to the leaders of an elementary school here and showed them how they can train and be better prepared. It’s more than how our engineers use the digital twin – everyone can use this as a virtual canvas to train, plan, and prepare.” AE
to deliver its support, and in the short four years since the storm hit, significant prog ress is being made in the multibillion-dollar program.
One person who has seen the progress of the rebuild firsthand is Colleen Duffy, 325th Mission Support Group deputy director, who was working at Tyndall when Hurricane Michael hit.
“The base from Oct. 10, 2018, to today is night and day,” said Duffy. “It’s amazing to see the base literally come out of the ground and rise from the damage of Hurri cane Michael.”
To make Tyndall AFB into the installation of the future for the Air Force, the Tyndall team is ensuring the new buildings that make up the base withstand hurricane winds and rain, with top-of-the-line securi ty and technology systems.
“The rebuild gives us the unique oppor tunity to reimagine how we accommodate the needs of the F-35,” said Col. Travis Leighton, Natural Disaster Recovery Divi sion director.
In May 2022, USACE was awarded a $532 million construction contract to deliver 11 projects that will directly support flightline operations for the F-35A Light ning II aircraft. The rebuild includes more than 40 military construction projects.
“Just in this past year USACE has been awarded $1.8 billion [in] military construc tion projects that are all breaking ground this year,” said Col. Jeremy J. Chapman, USACE Mobile District commander. “Includ ing the flightline facilities project, [it is] the biggest contract in Air Force history.”
While there has been tremendous prog ress at Tyndall, it is still a long road ahead.
“The Tyndall rebuild is to start deliv ering major facilities in 2025,” said Mike Dwyer, Air Force Civil Engineer Center deputy chief. “The complete closeout of the base is projected to be done between 2026 and 2027.”
To date, USACE is assisting with more than 40 new military construction, or MIL CON, projects while simultaneously over seeing more than 100 new facilities in the reconstruction of Tyndall and will continue its partnership well after completion of the installation of the future. AE
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Army Selects JBLM Barracks Construction for Pilot Program
t Engineers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, located in Vicksburg, Mississippi, test non-destructive sustainable concrete materials at ERDC’s field exposure site at Treat Island, Maine.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is leading the effort supporting the assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment and the Army Materiel Command. They’re constructing the first barracks under the recently established Sustainable Building Material
BY DALLAS EDWARDS
Pilot program. The barracks will use sustainable materials aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 30%.
As the largest federal government building owner, the U.S. Army has a keen interest in improving its facility sustainability and infrastructure. Much of the Army’s focus is on optimizing high-performance and sustainable building design to reduce energy use, waste generation, and other factors.
These are in alignment with U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system principles.
The Army is continuing to advance its energy efficiency in developing and using renewable energies while also focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate threats. This new JBLM project focuses on improved sustainability by reducing building materials’ emissions.
The driver for the Army and joint service partners to establish the pilot program to increase sustainable building material use came with the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 authorization. The U.S. Army “Climate Strategy” is addressing similar challenges, with a focus on reducing emissions to mitigate climate change impact.
Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth made climate resilience one of her top priorities in building the Army of 2030. The Army’s strategy lays out a plan to strengthen energy assurance for critical missions using carbon-free generation, battery storage, and microgrids. The Army will also protect installations against climate hazards using smarter, more sustainable construction techniques, and by harnessing conservation practices and nature-based engineering.
The Sustainable Building Materials Pilot program goal is to reduce the total global warming potential (GWP) of carbon-emitting material substitutions by at least 30% in military construction projects. Cement, steel, and asphalt are the largest greenhouse gas emitters, due to energy intensive manufacturing processes and the massive magnitude of construction use. For example, cement used to produce concrete contributes an estimated 7% to 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions.
PHOTO BY DAVID MARQUIS
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new, greener home
Joint Base Lewis-McChord
is on the horizon for about 170
(JBLM), Washington, Soldiers.
PHOTO BY SIDNEY LEE
Addressing these challenges, the JBLM pilot project will focus on examining all potential project building material emission reductions. The project will include designing and constructing an 89,082-squarefoot barracks capable of housing 168 Soldiers at the military base within the total budget authorization. Before pilot program selection, the project was at a 35% design phase. USACE will use this as a baseline for the new design under the new pilot program criteria.
“To reduce global warming potential, the Army’s focus is on evaluating stateof-the-art sustainable building material technologies and approaches for their implementation and assessment in military construction projects,” explained Seattle District Project Manager John Dudgeon. “Since the project had reached the 35% design phase prior to selection, the project delivery team [PDT] was challenged to see what sustainable materials could be implemented without impacting the overall validated scope and authorized budget.”
Seattle District will have support from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and oversight from USACE’s Northwestern Division and Headquarters. ERDC is also supporting the Air Force and Navy on their pilot projects’ execution, focusing on sustainable building materials.
“Our ERDC team is excited to support the Seattle District, the Corps, and the DOD [Department of Defense] to enable the successful integration of sustainable building materials into military construction projects,” said ERDC Senior Scientific Technical Manager Robert Moser, Ph.D. “Moving sustainable materials beyond the research world and into practice is a necessary step forward to address the challenges of climate mitigation and making further improvements in sustainability for Army facilities and infrastructure.”
The project design will consist of two phases. Phase one will include sustainable building material selection, including low emissions construction materials replacing primary construction materials in the
t Newly constructed Transient Barracks on Lewis North receiving finishing touches, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as seen in July 2015. A new barracks project will seek to make increased use of sustainable materials.
existing 35% baseline design. These will include concrete, steel, masonry products, wall board, and other architectural finishes, and insulation materials.
“ERDC and Seattle District’s PDT will work together to select sustainable materials that can feasibly be implemented; develop relevant design specifications to guide the selected construction contractor on sustainability goals and methods for reaching those goals; and reviewing contractor submittals to confirm sustainability goals are met,” said Dudgeon.
Phase two will be an analysis and reporting process to include a detailed comparison of cost and schedule impact as well as life cycle analysis of emissions associated with different material options consideration. This will consist of a continuous materials comparison using pilot program criteria and guidance parameters set by ERDC and other in-depth informational analysis.
The projected project time line has the final design complete in summer 2023 and estimates project advertisement December 2023. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024.
“Our goal is to take the use of sustainable materials for military construction from concept to reality and to understand the types of adaptations to our criteria and specifications that are needed to make that happen,” said ERDC Research Civil Engineer Trevor Looney, Ph.D., who is supporting Seattle District on the project.
The JBLM project is one puzzle piece of the many Army initiatives underway to advance military installation facility and infrastructure sustainability. As the project progresses, USACE’s goal is to take lessons learned to support its efforts updating its guidance for military construction to integrate new sustainable material technologies for future military construction projects. AE
www.Americas-Engineers.com I 105
“Folly” to Fortune: Huntsville Center Supports Missile Defense in Remote Alaska
The U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867, a transaction negotiated by then-Secretary of State William Seward, was initially ridiculed in the press as “Seward’s folly” because the Arctic region was thought by many to be unusable and uninhabitable.
Fast forward more than 150 years to the present, and Alaska is not only one of the richest states in the nation, but also a key part of America’s missile defense program.
Precisely because of its remote location and proximity to nearly all potential adversaries – Russia is just across the Bering Strait, while China, North Korea, and Iran are all much closer to Alaska than any other point in the continental United States –military efforts in the region have expanded rapidly over the last 10 years.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) recently unveiled the new Long-Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Space Force Station, Alaska, and is currently working in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Alaska District to construct a missile field housing 20 anti-ballistic interceptor missiles and expand an existing field to house two additional interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska.
The engineering experts at the Ballistic Missile Defense System Mandatory Center of Expertise (BMDS-MCX) at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, have provided critical technical support on both of these projects, said Bret Styers, senior program manager for the BMDS-MCX.
p Bret Styers,
program manager for the Ballistic Missile Defense System
Center of Expertise at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, explains the engineering challenges of Alaskan projects during a tour of Missile Field 4 at Fort Greely, Alaska, with Col. Sebastien P. Joly, Huntsville Center commander, and Jason Wilson, program manager for USACE’s Alaska District, in August 2022.
“These are very complex projects requiring a tremendous amount of problem-solving and technical oversight,” he said. “Huntsville Center has the experience and expertise to handle these types of challenges.”
BY KRISTEN BERGESON
PHOTO BY KRISTEN BERGESON
106 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Huntsville Center
What was once considered the foolish, costly act of a land-hungry politician is now considered to be one of the most profitable and strategic moves in U.S. history.
BEING READY AND RESPONSIVE Huntsville Center
In August, Styers and other members of the project delivery team, including representatives from USACE Alaska District and MDA, led Col. Sebastien P. Joly, Huntsville Center commander, on a tour of these project sites to explain the challenges and share the lessons learned.
In addition to the remoteness, which can be a “logistical nightmare,” Styers explained, the project delivery team has to contend with a limited construction season. In Alaska, the typical construction season is June through September, as the winter temperatures and precipitation are generally too extreme to ensure safety and quality work.
Even summer can present weather-related challenges in the Alaskan interior where Fort Greely and Clear Space Force Station (SFS) are located. Fort Greely is just 120 miles from the Arctic Circle, making it one of the coldest places in the United States. While average temperatures in the summer months can rise to 70, the winds, which seem to come and go without warning, add another level of difficulty in vertical construction.
In July of this year, a random wind storm blew through Fort Greely, disrupting construction and damaging equipment, said Stephen Augustin, quality assurance representative for the Alaska District.
“The temperatures were great, but the wind was moving through at 80 miles per hour,” he said. “It picked up a tent that was tied down and secured with concrete and threw it 120 feet.”
These kinds of weather disruptions make it difficult to meet deadlines, making it even more important to have experts on the team who know how to plan for and work around these challenges.
“When it comes to missile defense, there are very aggressive time lines driven by real-world threats,” said Styers. “That pressure can make it difficult for a district to execute a project for the Missile Defense Agency, but it’s where we can be helpful.”
The Alaska District is the executing district for all of the MDA construction at Clear SFS and Fort Greely, aside from the actual radar and missile system. This includes the structures surrounding these vital components, the mechanical electrical buildings,
power plants, communication centers, and more. Each of these facilities has had unique requirements, and Huntsville Center has assisted the Alaska District with ensuring those requirements are met.
“This is a high seismic area with lots of earthquakes, so all of the facilities had to be designed with that in mind,” said Styers. “And of course, when you have a building that houses a missile, you have to consider accidental explosions and design with those blast loads in mind.”
Another structural challenge was the need for high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) shielding. HEMP, caused by a nuclear detonation in or above the Earth’s atmosphere, can induce extremely high voltages and currents into electrical and electronic systems, destroying most unprotected power systems. Because these missile defense systems are especially important in the case of a nuclear event, technical engineers incorporated various forms of HEMP shielding in the design of nearly all surrounding structures.
Joly, who previously served as post engineer and later company commander of the C/84th Engineer Battalion at Fort Richardson outside Anchorage, Alaska, said his August visit and communication with the experts on the ground provided insight that will be helpful in the near future as Huntsville Center
leverages this experience to better support the U.S. Air Force’s new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or LGM-35A Sentinel, program.
“Huntsville Center not only provided expertise that aided in the success of these projects in Alaska, but we also gained additional expertise and experience because of this work,” said Joly. “The lessons learned will be invaluable to future support of missile-defense projects.”
The Air Force’s newest weapons system, a fully integrated launch, flight, and infrastructure system with modern command and control features, will eventually replace the current intercontinental ballistic missile fleet of Minuteman III missiles, which was developed in the 1970s. The system will be housed at existing missile bases: F.E. Warren Air Force Base (AFB), Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota.
“These locations aren’t as challenging as Alaska, but they still present some difficulties related to climates, and we will be dealing with issues that we now have extensive experience with – blast design, HEMP shielding, very aggressive schedules,” said Styers. “Huntsville Center has been providing innovative engineering solutions to these problems in Alaska, and we will continue to do so no matter where the mission takes us.” AE
PHOTO BY KRISTEN BERGESON
108 I USACE AMERICA’S ENGINEERS
p Mike Doty, electrical engineer, Alaska District, takes Huntsville Center Commander Col. Sebastien P. Joly on a tour of the generator room in the long-range discrimination radar power plant at Clear Space Force Station, Alaska, on Aug. 16. The power plant houses seven generators, each one capable of powering a locomotive, as a back-up energy source to keep the radar active in case of power failure.