The Memphis District Revetment season officially began this year on June 11, with District Commander Col. Zachary Miller hosting a kickoff meeting at the Ensley Engineer Yard to get things started.
Revetment operations are primarily the preparation for, and placement of articulated concrete mattress (ACM) from the water's edge, out to design limits in conjunction with stone paving, from water's edge to top bank; which stabilizes the river bank and maintains the proper navigation channel alignment.
“Protecting the Mississippi River banks keeps the channel in place, which maintains the necessary depth and alignment that allows the thousands of tows to travel up and down the river year round,” the commander said. “Without this work, the river would shift resulting in new, shallow cutoffs that could not be safely traveled.”
Col. Miller went on to say that protecting the river banks also provides the first line of defense against Mississippi River floods.
“We have the best levees in the world,” he said. “Our levees run from Cairo, Illinois, to south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Our revetment program keeps the river in its place preventing the river from directly striking our levees. A levee failure in southeast Missouri would devastate much of the Missouri Bootheel as well as eastern Arkansas all the way to Helena -- that’s 90 miles.”
The commander said Memphis District levees have prevented over $1.5 trillion in damages over the decades and that for every dollar the U.S. taxpayer has invested in these levees, the country has received a return of $95.
“We all need to think about what an amazing investment that is,” he added. “If you give me a dollar, I will give you $95 in return. The revetment program plays a vital role in maintaining this phenomenal system we call the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project.”
The Memphis District is slated to work 28 sites along 1,000 miles of the Mississippi River this year with plans to clear 70,000 feet of bank. The bank grading unit is scheduled to move over 820,000 cubic yards of material to ready the channel banks for articulated concrete mattress, which will be completed in unison with the Vicksburg District.
“We are going to lay 300,000 concrete squares along the river banks,” Col. Miller continued. “None of this is possible without the outstanding work each and every one of you (Ensley Workers) do to keep the vessels afloat, dredges dredging, and the bank grading unit moving.”
The commander concluded by thanking several men and women for their exceptional work, especially considering the challenges presented by COVID-19.