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Posted 10/29/2015

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By Patrice Creel
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Public Affairs


Invited for his impressive credentials as the Army’s Senior Research Scientist for Environmental Science and leader of the Corps’ Dredging Operations Environmental Research (DOER) program and the Engineering with Nature (EWN) program, ERDC-EL’s Dr. Todd Bridges experienced a whirlwind week from Sept. 7-11 that was sponsored by Engineers Australia (EA).

“I flew 15,000 miles in six days, getting to and then traveling across Australia.” Bridges said, adding that “I spoke at four three-hour events in the cities of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. During each event, I presented three lectures covering the topics of dredging, port and coastal development, risk management, sustainable practice and Engineering With Nature interspersed with question and answer discussions.”

Bridges shared his expertise, drawing from ERDC’s experience and capability related to work ongoing in DOER, EWN and the recently completed study by ERDC and the Institute for Water Resources on Natural and Nature-Based Features for the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study.

With his presentation titled, “Sustainable Dredging and Sediment Management: Assessing and Managing Environmental Effects and Benefits,” Bridges addressed technical and public perceptions in Australia concerning the impacts and benefits of dredging and coastal development.

“For example, disposal of dredged material from capital (new work) dredging projects was recently banned in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, causing a significant cascade of consequences for ports and the coastal environment,” Bridges said.

Technical forum keynote speaker

Additionally, this hectic schedule featured an appearance by Bridges on Sept. 10 as the keynote speaker at PIANC (the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure) Australia’s technical forum in Sydney, where he addressed “US Ports: Challenges and Opportunities.”

PIANC provides a worldwide forum for professionals to provide expert advice on cost-effective, reliable and sustainable infrastructure to facilitate the growth of waterborne transport. Established in 1885, PIANC provides a forum for government and the private sector to engage in the development of guidance supporting design, development and maintenance of ports, waterways and coastal areas.

Bridges was introduced to the PIANC audience as the U.S. representative to the Environmental Commission of PIANC, where he is leading efforts to develop new international standards for managing environmental risks, while promoting environmental benefits related to navigation infrastructure.

Using interactive workshops

“It was a busy week in Australia. We discussed the beneficial uses of dredged material, contaminated sediment management, optimizing maintenance dredging, land versus sea placement of dredged material, real time monitoring of dredging, dredging policies and the use of dredging to enhance ecosystem services and coastal resilience,” Bridges said of his tour stops, sponsored by EA, which provided all travel and related expenses.

Beneficial results

EA is the largest national engineering organization in Australia with more than 100,000 members.

“EA uses its Eminent Speakers program to sponsor national and international experts to come and speak on topics of importance to the practice of their members. Through these events, I had the opportunity to interact with about 150 scientists and engineers working for ports, private industry, government, and academia.

“I’m in follow-up discussions currently regarding future engagements and support from ERDC. It was a fantastic experience-- simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting,” Bridges said.

EL