The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency that provides technical assistance to state and local governments for flood protection and navigation projects.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a federal agency under the Department of Defense and a major Army command made up of some 37,000 civilians and soldiers, delivering engineering services in more than 90 countries around the world. USACE has 8 regional divisions with 42 offices in the United States. Its Civil Works division programs include many water resource development activities, such as flood control, navigation, recreation, infrastructure and environmental stewardship. The New Orleans District provides comprehensive water resources management that includes navigation, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction and environmental stewardship for south Louisiana.
Partnership is key in the successful delivery of USACE’s programs in Louisiana. The USACE New Orleans District partners with several entities that include the Federal Resource Agencies, State of Louisiana, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East and West, Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, and parish government leaders, among others. Stakeholder and public engagement are also very important for the success of programs in Louisiana. In fact, the New Orleans District has hosted more than 400 public meetings since Hurricane Katrina to engage stakeholders, partners and the public in the planning and construction of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System and the Louisiana Coastal Area program. The Corps also works with groups from the navigation industry, port complex industry, non-governmental organizations, fishing and oyster industry, recreation and tourism industry, academic associations and the general public. USACE further participates in academic and community forums, conferences, festivals, local government meetings and educational programs.
The New Orleans District has recently delivered the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS), which provides the 100-year level of risk reduction for several parishes in the greater New Orleans area. The $14 billion system includes 133 miles of perimeter risk reduction features, including levees, floodwalls, floodgates and pump stations. HSDRRS was designed for a 50-year project life and the design accounted for sea level rise, subsidence and increased storm frequency throughout this time frame. Construction of the system also included resiliency features, such as the armoring of the backside of levees and floodwalls to prevent scour in the event of wave overtopping.
The New Orleans District is also engaged in coastal restoration efforts throughout coastal Louisiana through the Louisiana Coastal Area Program, the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act program, and the Beneficial Use of Dredged Material program. These coastal restoration programs enable the planning and implementation of features to protect and restore coastal ecosystems and develop a sustainable coastal zone in the face of wetland loss, sea level rise and subsidence. Features include reconnecting the Mississippi River to neighboring ecosystems, rebuilding barrier island systems, and protecting and restoring existing marsh and wetland areas.
The New Orleans District continues to support navigation on federal waterways in Louisiana, including the Mississippi River. The operation and maintenance of federal waterways and navigation infrastructure in Louisiana includes dredging, lock operation and channel improvements.
While the USACE New Orleans District focuses on projects in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area and southern Louisiana, the Vicksburg District is one of six districts in the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division. Headquartered in Vicksburg, MS, it provides services to the broader area of northern Louisiana, Mississippi and southern Arkansas. The Vicksburg District is one of the USACE’s largest civil works districts in terms of both size and activities. It encompasses a total of 68,000 square miles, seven major river basins and about 800 miles of commercially navigable streams and rivers. Its mission includes flood control, water supply, navigation, emergency operations, environmental restoration and more. Projects often span across the multi-state jurisdiction, with broader national significance. Through small- and large-scale projects, the District partners with many local agencies and groups in the region to meet engineering needs.
Two key projects underway include restoring thousands of acres of bottomland hardwoods in the Mississippi Delta and developing and maintaining 9-foot navigation on a large expanse of the Mississippi River, which carries over 500 million tons annually to the Baton Rouge-New Orleans shipping corridor. The District is also working on a Yazoo Basin River Project to evaluate flooding characteristics and determine which areas may be modified to ameliorate high water flow and flooding. Through this project, they are working with stakeholder groups, non-federal sponsors, the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Levee District and the Mississippi Levee District to determine feasible solutions to flooding issues.