The work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is woven into the web of American waterways and water bodies. From harbors and levees, to flood control dams and check structures, to ecosystem restoration projects and reservoir operations, the Army Corps has a nexus with water projects across the country. Given the breadth of the Army Corps’ reach and its instrumental role in permitting water infrastructure projects, this issue of Municipal Water Leader is dedicated both to the work of the Army Corps and its nonfederal project sponsors—the water agencies and flood control districts that work hand in hand with the agency to maintain and develop the nation’s waterways and reservoirs.
Our cover interview is with Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lt. Gen. Semonite is a tireless and enthusiastic advocate for the Army Corps, frequently visiting the projects and people that drive our nation’s waterways. In our interview, he sheds light on the critical role the Army Corps has played in helping Americans recover from the natural disasters of the past year. In addition, he discusses the role of the Army Corps in the development of the nation’s water infrastructure. He states, “With the current administration’s infrastructure proposals, state and local agencies may be able to take advantage of the push to modernize the nation’s infrastructure and get some of these projects done.”
We also highlight innovative projects and permit streamlining efforts from Army Corps project partners and proponents. J.D. Granger of the Trinity River Vision Authority discusses how water and flood control infrastructure will help to transform a section of the city of Fort Worth, Texas, and galvanize its communities for decades to come. Van Ness Feldman’s Bob Szabo shares the story of his firm’s innovative approach to permit streamlining to save the Louisiana’s coastline from erosion and help build resiliency against large storms and hurricanes.
Finally, we hear from Water Strategies’ Steve Stockton, former Army Corps director of civil works, who shares some hard-earned wisdom about how to partner with the Army Corps and work through its permitting processes. Mr. Stockton’s message is as true in the public sector as it is in the private sector. “Establish trusting relationships with the people you will be working with. Communicate early and often.” Those personal relationships serve as the foundation for sound water resources infrastructure development.
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@wateretrategies.com