WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 24, 2019) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers launched the book, Engineering With Nature®: an Atlas, at a celebratory event held at the National Building Museum on January 16, 2019. Among those in attendance were Dr. Todd Bridges, EWN lead; James Dalton, director of Civil Works; Catherine Wright, Environment Agency, United Kingdom; and Cees Brandsen, Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands.
In his opening speech, Bridges said a number of people had asked why the book was developed, and he had several answers. “It’s a way of communicating with the public about EWN projects: the book helps people visualize what has been done and what will be done in the future,” he said.
“Seeing how other teams around the world have produced their projects and what kinds of collaborations they’ve engaged in is another reason for us to publish the book. We all learn from and share with each other.”
“We are also communicating within the Corps; out of 56 projects, 26 are Corps projects,” Bridges said. “When someone asks, ‘Can we engineer with nature?’ The answer is, ‘We are and we have been’ — we want to make the exceptional projects of the past commonplace in the future.”
Dalton provided the Civil Works perspective on the publication. “The Atlas features many different types of projects. It allows us to talk about efforts outside traditional engineering; it allows us to broaden the spectrum and talk about truly integrated water resource management,” he said.
“The book is an effective communication tool for the EWN initiative,” he said. “The challenge for the Corps is trying to explain what a project’s total value is; with the Atlas, we communicate the multiple benefits — social, economic, and environmental — EWN projects deliver.”
Lt. Col. Kristen Dahle, Engineer Commander, Philadelphia District, represented an EWN proving ground at the book launch event. She said she was excited to see so many projects represented in the book, and she hopes it will inspire organizations to pursue more EWN projects.
“We have a project manager working with the State of New Jersey to develop more projects,” Dahle said. “She’s the same project manager for our dams, and she’s using what she learned on our EWN projects — such as Mordecai Island, which was featured in the book — to implement EWN in projects across the district.”
Representatives from partner and stakeholder organizations also hailed the release of the book.
Wright is one of the directors of Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency, which contributed nine projects to the book. “Fantastic publication,” she said. “Nature offers us so many solutions to minimize flood risk. A publication like this book gives us, in a very digestible format, a clearer picture of what we mean when we say this.”
“We’ll be using the Atlas with our experts, with people we work with internally to show what nature-based EWN can do,” she said. “But we’ll also be using it in communities where we build new flood defenses, to inform people about the evidence and the science behind EWN and to help communicate the benefits of this kind of approach.”
“We’ll also be learning from each other about approaches for engaging communities,” she said.
Mike Donahue directs the National Coastal and Ecosystem Restoration Practice at AECOM Technical Services Corporation. “I’ve been involved in the EWN effort through the natural infrastructure initiative that Caterpillar Inc. is leading — AECOM is one of the founding members of that organization,” he said.
“The Atlas is a very impressive effort, there is no question about that, and I just want to say that this is an idea whose time has come. These case studies will help promote the notion that we have to give full consideration to natural infrastructure solutions whenever we’re dealing with coastal protection or ecosystem restoration projects.”
Joe Wilson, Operations Division at Headquarters, said he is a Corps employee with 40 years of experience in navigation and dredging. “I’ve been involved with the EWN initiative since its inception,” he said. “My biggest take-away from this book launch is that there is a lot more interest in the EWN initiative than I thought, both in the United States and abroad.”