The 55th Chief of Engineers, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, and the 14th Command Sergeant Major, Command Sergeant Major Patrickson Toussaint, visited the Memphis District last week to better understand some of the ways the district is supporting the USACE Civil Works mission.
Missions, Mississippi River and Tributaries Project
The visit started with Memphis District Commander Col. Zachary Miller briefing both the commanding general and command sergeant major on Memphis District missions and the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project.
The district has three major mission areas – flood risk management, navigation, and environmental stewardship – with our total civil works program averaging over $125 million a year.
The district maintains levees, pump stations, and floodwalls as part of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project to protect citizens from Mississippi River floods. Since its inception in 1928, the project has prevented over $1 trillion in flood damages.
Mississippi River Tour & Ensley Engineer Yard
The chief of engineers also had the opportunity to tour a portion of the Mississippi River. Miller and Spellmon boarded a survey vessel for a guided tour, hosted by Project Manager Zach Cook. During their time on the river, Spellmon had the opportunity to view several Mississippi River Channel Improvement features.
Improvement plans consist of stabilizing Mississippi riverbanks to a desirable alignment and obtaining the most efficient flow characteristics for flood control and navigation using revetments, dikes, and dredging.
While the chief of engineers was touring the river, the command sergeant major traveled to Ensley Engineer Yard, the district's river engineering and marine mooring facility in south Memphis at McKellar Lake.
There, Toussaint toured and spoke with many skilled trade workers responsible for executing the Engineer Yard's essential responsibilities.
Responsibilities and capabilities include marine maintenance executed via dry docks, metal work, other shop services, and mechanics. Additionally, Ensley Engineer workers are responsible for river maintenance in the form of levee work, repairing and maintaining control structures, and rock placement.
Following the respective tours, both groups came together for more in-depth discussions regarding the district's operating concepts. Operations Division Chief Russell Davis and Project Management Assistant Deputy Elizabeth Burks led these informative discussions.
North DeSoto County Feasibility Study
The last stop of the tour involved a notable meeting with our partners in DeSoto County, Mississippi, to discuss an ongoing study in that area of the state.
Desoto County is the fastest-growing county in Mississippi. At over 175,00 people, it is the third most populated county in the state. Land development has modified floodplains, flood duration, and flood timing, resulting in increased flood risks.
Flood risks include life safety, residential, commercial, and industrial damage, and disruption of transportation corridors for schools, emergency services, and businesses.
The purpose of the study is to evaluate the need for improved flood control, ecosystem restoration, and other related purposes associated with storm water runoff and management. The Corps is using $1.5 million from the FY 2018 Work Plan to fund the federal portion of this study.