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Tag: Environmental Management
  • Engineering With Nature: An Atlas, Volume 3

    Abstract: Engineering With Nature: An Atlas, Volume 3 showcases EWN principles and practices “in action” through 58 projects from around the world. These exemplary projects demonstrate what it means to partner with nature to deliver engineering solutions with triple-win benefits. The collection of projects included were developed and constructed by a large number of government, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and other organizations. Through the use of photographs and narrative descriptions, the EWN Atlas was developed to inspire interested readers and practitioners with the potential to engineer with nature.
  • Site Selection and Conceptual Designs for Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Sites for Habitat Creation in the Lower Columbia River

    Abstract: Channel maintenance in most major rivers throughout the United States requires ongoing dredging to maintain navigability. The US Army Corps of Engineers explores several options for placement based on sediment characteristics, material quantity, cost, operational constraints, and minimization of potential adverse effects to existing resources and habitat. It is a priority to beneficially reuse dredged sediments to create habitat and retain sediments within the river system whenever possible. Nonetheless, there can be discrepancies among state and federal resource agencies, landowners, tribes, and various other stakeholders about what constitutes a benefit and how those benefits are ultimately weighed against short- and long-term tradeoffs. This work leveraged prior Regional Sediment Management efforts building consensus among stakeholders on a suite of viable strategies for in-water placement in the lower Columbia River. The goal was to identify suitable locations for applying the various strategies to maximize habitat benefits and minimize potential adverse effects. A multistep site-selection matrix was developed with criteria accounting for existing site conditions, overall placement capacity, tradeoffs, long-term maintenance, cost, stakeholder concerns, and landscape principles in the context of other habitat restoration projects implemented in the lower river. Three highly ranked sites were selected for conceptual design and exemplify results of collaborative beneficial use implementation.
  • Monitoring Geomorphology to Inform Ecological Outcomes Downstream of Reservoirs Affected by Sediment Release

    Abstract: Increasingly, reservoir managers are seeking techniques that improve sediment management while considering long-term sedimentation and reduced operational flexibility. These techniques, often termed sustainable sediment management, involve passing sediment through reservoirs and into downstream rivers. Conceptually, restoring sediment continuity can benefit ecosystem function by increasing floodplain connectivity, contributing to the heterogeneity of channel geomorphology, and supporting the continuity of nutrient cycling. However, when a change is made to operations, geomorphic changes may need to be monitored to document benefits and mitigate any unexpected effects of the change. This investigation develops a geomorphic monitoring plan for downstream reaches affected by sediment-release operations at reservoirs. The monitoring objectives are aligned with potential geomorphic change caused by changes to sediment supply and the associated effects on river function. A tiered approach is presented to explain the quality of information that can be assessed from increasing levels of data collection. A general conceptual model is described in which geomorphic data may be linked to physical habitat conditions and, therefore, ecological processes. The geomorphic monitoring plan for the Tuttle Creek Reservoir water injection dredging (WID) pilot project is presented as a case study. This technical note establishes a general framework for monitoring the design for sustainable sediment management in different ecological and geomorphic contexts.
  • Evaluating Soil Conditions to Inform Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Restoration Projects

    Abstract: The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has designed and constructed thousands of acres of ecosystem restoration features within the Upper Mississippi River System. Many of these projects incorporate island construction to restore geomorphic diversity and habitat, including floodplain forests. Soils are the foundation of the ecological function and successful establishment of floodplain forests as they are the basis through which plants obtain water and nutrients and provide critical ecosystem services. To improve floodplain forest island restoration outcomes, three natural and four recently (<10 years) constructed restoration sites were studied to compare soil physical, chemical, microbial, and fungal characteristics. Constructed islands had lower soil organic matter and dissolved organic carbon and differed in nutrient concentrations, bacterial assemblages, and fungal communities compared to reference sites. However, soil enzyme activity and some microbial community characteristics were functionally similar between the natural and created sites. Results align with previously established restoration trajectory theories where hydrological and basic microbial ecosystem functions are restored almost immediately, but complex biologically mediated and habitat functions require more time to establish. Data from this and future studies will help increase the long-term success of USACE floodplain forest restoration, improve island design, and help develop region-specific restoration trajectory curves to better anticipate the outcomes of floodplain forest creation projects.
  • Environmental DNA Sampling for At-Risk and Invasive Species Management on Military Ranges: Guidelines and Protocols for Installation Biologists and Land Managers

    Abstract: Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis, or the detection of trace DNA shed by organisms into their environment, has the potential to transform Army capabilities for threatened and endangered species (TES) and invasive species management by providing a rapid, noninvasive, and cost-effective option for monitoring wildlife. Despite these benefits, eDNA analysis is underutilized on military installations as limited access to guidance materials, protocols, training opportunities, and support from eDNA scientists makes it difficult for installation biologists and military land managers to design and execute eDNA surveys, let alone identify management questions that may benefit from eDNA monitoring. Therefore, the aim of this resource is to increase awareness of the benefits and limitations of eDNA monitoring and provide eDNA study design guidelines and field sampling protocols for nonexperts to make this tool more accessible to installation biologists and land managers and help facilitate the adoption of eDNA-based approaches for wildlife management on military ranges.
  • USACE Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Research and Development Initiative

    Abstract: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) represent a significant and costly threat to our nation’s economy and natural resources. This report outlines the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center’s (USACE-ERDC’s) approach to deliver scalable technologies for prevention, early detection, and management of HABs to reduce HAB event frequency, severity, and duration.
  • Proceedings from the Basin Sediment Management for Unique Island Topography Workshop, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

    Abstract: This report summarizes the Basin Sediment Management for Unique Island Topography Workshop hosted in-person and virtually at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez (UPRM) Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico on 11 March 2022. The workshop was attended by approximately 80 federal, state, local, and academic organizations participants. It focused on Engineering With Nature® (EWN®), green infrastructure (GI) and low impact development (LID) opportunities for unique tropical island topography and included seven presentations from subject matter experts, a discussion on limitations and problems with prior projects, and two concurrent breakout sessions. Preworkshop activities included a field trip to multiple sites in the Añasco watershed conducted 09 March 2022, which served as a base case for the workshop. The field trip provided participants a unique perspective of the island’s topography and post 2017 Hurricane María issues and impacts. During the breakout sessions, participants identified new project opportunities for EWN®-GI and LID at two selected sites from the field trip. Each group developed alternatives for their chosen site and identified concepts that could turn into great opportunities for the surrounding communities and significantly benefit the state of practice in Puerto Rico’s unique tropical island topography.
  • A Review of Algal Phytoremediation Potential to Sequester Nutrients from Eutrophic Surface Water

    Abstract: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) and coastal hypoxic zones are evidence of cultural nutrient enrichment affecting public health and water supplies, aquatic ecosystem health, and economic well-being in the United States. Recognition of the far-reaching impacts of Midwest agriculture has led to establishing nutrient reduction objectives for surface waters feeding the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Erie, and many smaller water bodies. Municipal nutrient enrichment impacts have been addressed by increasing levels of sewage treatment and waste management through the Clean Water Act era, but HABs rebounded in the 1990s because of non-point source nutrient enrichment. HAB control and treatment includes watershed and waterbody treatments to reduce loading and address outbreaks. Systems to remove nutrients from impaired waters are expensive to build and operate. This review of algal production systems summarizes emerging algal water treatment technologies and considers their potential to effectively sequester nutrients and atmospheric carbon from hundreds of eutrophic reservoirs and DoD wastewater treatment facilities while producing useful biomass feedstock using solar energy. Algal water treatment systems including open ponds, photobioreactors, and algal turf scrubbers® can be used to grow biomass for biofuel, wastewater treatment, and commercial products. This review recommends continuing research on surface water nutrient reduction potential with algal turf scrubber productivity pilot studies, preliminary site design, and biomass utilization investigations.
  • Spatial Screening for Environmental Pool Management Opportunities

    Abstract: US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reservoir projects significantly alter river ecosystem structure and function. Each project adheres to a defined set of operating rules to achieve primary objectives, which typically include flood risk management, hydropower, or navigation along with ancillary objectives for drinking water/irrigation, recreation, and natural resources management. Environmental flows (E-Flows) planning under the Sustainable Rivers Program has demonstrated new opportunities for environmental pool management (EPM; Theiling et al. 2021a, 2021b) that have no negative impact on other reservoir functions. In some locations, water level drivers can be managed to improve ecological outcomes, like wetlands, waterbirds, reptiles, and water quality, by altering the magnitude, timing, frequency, and duration of pool level changes that affect riparian and shoreline plant communities. Reservoirs with large delta areas may provide particularly important wetland or riparian habitat management along avian migratory pathways or in wildlife conservation regions (Johnson 2002). These large deltas can be identified and characterized using available satellite imagery, which along with water level habitat drivers available in hydrology databases, can be used to identify USACE reservoirs with good potential for EPM. A spatial analysis of USACE reservoirs capable to support EPM can be developed utilizing estimates of water occurrence, transition, and seasonality as well as surface elevation data derived from satellite imagery to assess geomorphology drivers. USACE water management records can be used to assess wetland drivers. Nationwide screening will be broken down into ecoregions to establish the anticipated geographic range of variation for wetland and riparian habitat drivers. Southwestern US reservoirs, for example, will have much different hydrology and fauna than Midwest and Eastern US reservoirs.
  • Review of Riparian Models for Assessing Ecological Impacts and Benefits

    BACKGROUND: Riparian zones are key transitional ecosystems between upland and aquatic zones, and these systems are often degraded due to both land use change and stream processes (e.g., deforestation and water impoundments and/or diversions). These important ecosystems require restoration because of the many benefits they provide ranging from providing habitat for diverse species to promoting water quality. Restoration practitioners, regulators, and researchers require riparian assessment methods and models to efficiently guide mitigation and restoration planning. This technical note (TN) compiles a subset of existing riparian tools and evaluates them relative to model objectives, modeling approach, and input variables. Findings are synthesized into a gap analysis of these models to inform future riparian model development and improve riparian assessment.