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Current EWN Projects

Current EWN Projects

The multiple benefits gained through EWN applications are ideal for field demonstrations. Investments have been made to identify projects that are broadly applicable and relevent across the USACE mission and business lines. The current EWN Projects are:

FY20 - Current Building an Engineering With Nature Business Case for Natural and Nature Based Features (project details)

Recreational Trail Alongside Wetlands
Recreational Trail Alongside Wetlands

The wide range of prospective benefits that can be achieved by incorporating elements of EWN cannot currently be accounted for in USACE planning practices. In particular, underutilization of Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF) is a missed opportunity for the agency to mainstream resilience thinking throughout its practices. Improving the business case for NNBF and other innovative strategies can provide the basis for the evolution of USACE practice to support selection of alternatives that reflect current agency stated values and priorities.

FY20 - Current - Innovative Sediment Distribution Pipe For Targeted Placement (project details)

Sediment Distribution Pipe demo on Sturgeon Island March 2020
Sediment Distribution Pipe demo on Sturgeon Island March 2020

All Natural or Nature-Based Feature (NNBF) projects along the coastline involve the construction of features that require, or would benefit from, targeted placement of sediment with specific gradation characteristics. These projects include marsh restoration projects where coarse-grained sediment (sand) is desired for building levees to improve containment of fine-grained sediment (silts and clay) material for maximum time of deposition on a marsh, as well as for its placement into deeper depressions (pans, pools, and ditches) to more efficiently achieve target elevation. Beach nourishment projects also have a maximum allowable fine-grained content that is allowed to be placed on the beach.

FY20 - Current - Engineering With Nature: An Atlas, Volume 2 (project details)

Blue-Green Infrastructure Approach to Flood Risk Management, Ellis Meadows, Leicester, England
Blue-Green Infrastructure Approach to Flood Risk Management, Ellis Meadows, Leicester, England

There is tremendous interest internal to USACE and elsewhere to integrate a suite of EWN case studies that highlight natural and nature-based features (NNBF) projects. In turn, this Special Report will provide an inventory complementary to Volume 1, comprised of a diverse grouping of projects (national and international), that exemplifies the utility of EWN solutions.

FY20 - Current - Wave attenuation of coastal mangroves during extreme water levels at near prototype scales (project details)

Mangrove trunk-prop root system in Key West, FL
Mangrove trunk-prop root system in Key West, FL

A number of field investigations have documented wave and surge attenuation by coastal mangrove ecosystems. These studies generally focus on low-energy environments or rely on post hoc observation studies following storms, leading to limited measured data supporting the flood risk reduction benefits of mangroves during extreme events. Due to the unpredictable nature of storm development and difficulty maintaining instrumentation during high-energy energy events, the laboratory offers a controlled environment for systematically assessing the contribution of mangroves to flood protection. However, past laboratory studies of mangroves are generally small scale (e.g., 1:16), and tests at near-prototype scales are critical to gain a better understanding of their performance for feasibility evaluations and incorporation into USACE projects.

FY20 - Current - Engineering With Nature CSTORM Modeling Toolkit (project details)

CSTORM-MS
CSTORM-MS

USACE Districts require a method for predicting the impact that Engineering With Nature (EWN) features may have on the coastal resiliency of communities, quantifying changes to predicted values of storm surge, inundation, and wave attenuation for various storm events (i.e. 1/100, or 1/1000) if these features were implemented. Presently, numerical modeling of EWN features requires manual integration into the bathymetry/mesh, entailing a high level of skill and a significant time commitment. Each time the feature is altered, mesh must be rebuilt. Consequently, a limited set of NNBF measures will be implemented numerically for a subset of storm conditions and those effects will be extrapolated to other study regions, increasing the uncertainty of the study conclusions. The purpose of this project is to include a toolkit to create and permutate EWN features within the Coastal STORM – Modeling System (CSTORM-MS) of numerical models (ADCIRC/STWAVE), allowing Districts to look at variations of design parameters for varying NNBFs without having to modify model bathymetry every time, leading to a significant time and cost savings.

FY20 - Current - Implementing Sustainable Dredged Sediment Management Practices for Supporting Coastal Wetlands (project details)

EWN

Many wetlands are subsiding due, in part, to reduced mineral sediment input. Navigation dredged sediment that is not beach quality (>15% fines) has been identified as a resource which can support wetland resilience. Numerous wetlands have been constructed using dredged sediment. However, these construction projects are infrequent, costly, and considered ‘targets of opportunity’ where dredge schedules must align with construction schedules. Therefore, the majority of dredged sediment continues to be removed from the regional sediment system.

FY19 - Current - Synthesizing Beneficial Use of Dredge Material (BUDM) Efforts Undertaken by USACE into EWN ProMap (project details)

EWN_ProMap
EWN ProMap

Since the enactment of Section 204 of the 1992 Water Resources Development Act and subsequent amendments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has progressively used dredge material beneficially for myriad of uses ranging from construction and agriculture activities to the creation and enhancement of entire ecosystems as well as remedial activities such as beach nourishment and environmental contamination mitigation. However, documentation of BUDM efforts is not coordinated among USACE districts and at this time there is no centralized repository for BUDM project information. Thus, it is difficult to evaluate the breadth and evolution of USACE-BUDM efforts and synthesize data to inform project planning and development. This research strives to develop a centralized and user-friendly repository for USACE-sponsored BUDM project information that will be integrated into the Engineering with Nature web-map viewer (EWN ProMap) and be made available for download.

FY19 - Current - Long Term Function of Coastal Islands Derived from Engineering With Nature Efforts (project details)

Aerial of Swan Island
Aerial of Swan Island

The USACE has pursued the creation and/or restoration of islands in limited ways. However, there are many more opportunities to beneficially use dredged sediment for this purpose. Infrequent pursuit of beneficial use of dredged sediment for island creation results from the following factors, but is not limited to: (1) complexity in gaining needed approvals, (2) understanding the movement of sediment once placed in open water, (3) potential impacts to aquatic resources, (4) quantifying actual benefits derived from such activities, and (5) overcoming years for traditional placement methods that typically depend on CDFs/DMPAs and ODMDS.

  • POC: Jeffrey King
  • Email: Jeff.K.King@usace.army.mil
  • Project Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Products:
    • Report Number: ERDC/ EL SR-20-1
    • Title: Proceedings from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-National Ocean Service (NOS): Ecological Habitat Modeling Workshop
    • By Brook Herman, Todd Swannack, Jeffrey King, Paula Whitfield, Jenny Davis, Danielle Szimanski, Duncan Bryant, Joe Gailani, Matt Whitbeck, and Rebecca Golden
    • ABSTRACT: This special report summarizes the activities of the Ecological Habitat Modeling Workshop held April 11-12, 2019, at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center in Cambridge, Maryland. The workshop guided 21 participants through the process of conceptualizing, quantifying, evaluating, and communicating ecological responses to inform guidance and management decisions for ecological restoration projects. Working in interactive groups, participants used the restoration work already in progress at nearby Swan Island as the basis for their model development. Over the course of the two-day workshop, participants learned the mechanics and challenges of applying modeling processes to shape the restoration of dynamic ecosystems. Through group work and brainstorming, they identified a number of benchmarks to assess restoration success and future resilience. To accommodate the changeable and often unpredictable natural events that can shape ecosystems, workshop facilitators emphasized building iterative, fluid ecological habitat models. Next steps include publishing this special report and scheduling a follow-up workshop that will include a site visit to Swan Island.
    • (245 pages / 41.42 Mb)
    • Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.21079/11681/36095
  • Additional information
  • Use or reproduction of any slides/graphics or portions of figures etc. found herein shall contain an acknowledgement of the author/institution and be by permission of the author.

    Aerial of Island
    Additional Measurements
    Scientist in the Field
    Fall 2019

FY19 - Current - Characterize and Evaluate Performance of Sediment Strategically Placed Adjacent to Wetlands (project details)

Experiment configuration
Experiment configuration

Strategic placement of dredged material in the nearshore as a beneficial use technique is a common practice for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) dredging within the Corps of Engineers. The nearshore placement design concept has been recognized to follow the principles of Engineering with Nature (EWN) and Regional Sediment Management (RSM) by allowing the waves and tidal forces to move sediment into alignment with the natural environment. Previous research efforts have focused on the nearshore placement of dredged sediment on open coastlines, but sediment can also be placed in bays and estuaries, particularly near wetlands to shelter the wetland by dissipating wave energy and to provide a sediment source to the wetland.

FY16 - Current - A Guide to Engineering with Nature for Native Plant Community Development on Dredge Material Placement Areas (project details)

Plants stabilize dyke
Plants stabilize dyke on placement area

This EWN Action Project will provide guidance highlighting the use of native plant communities as vegetative treatments providing effective, low cost solutions, to stabilize dredged material placement areas and confined disposal facilities while providing engineering and environmental benefits. Two workshops will be held to develop case studies for the purpose of demonstrating planting techniques with native plant communities that will go into natural succession in the future.

FY16 - Current - Developing Engineering Guidance for Natural and Nature-Base Features (project details)

Marsh Creation
Marsh Creation

Natural structures are resilient, adapting to changes in physical, biological, geologic, and chemical processes. Nature-based features (NNBF) created by humans to provide specific services, such as coastal risk reduction. The use of natural and nature-based features in engineering design incorporates natural processes into the structure or project design, in order to take advantage of the resilient properties of natural systems. In addition, incorporating NNBF into USACE practices would reduce maintenance costs, and also provide ecosystem services within the project footprint. Currently, there is not an accepted guidance for incorporating NNBF into engineering design.

FY18 - Current - Documentation of EWN Successes: Filling the Beneficial Use Gap (18-06) (project details)

Researchers collect assessment data
Study Loacations

Dredged materials can be used to improve environmental outcomes while maximizing navigation benefits. Few studies document mid- to long-term project benefits and USACE success stories remain poorly advertised. The purpose of the work unit is to “fill the gap” between recently restored systems and their mature counterparts, providing a framework to develop restoration trajectory curves allowing for extrapolation of EWN benefits throughout a projects lifespan.

FY18 - Current - Incorporating Engineering With Nature (EWN) and Landscape Architecture (LA) Designs into Existing Infrastructure Projects (project details)

Canal
EWN/LA canal design

This project is focused on the identification of USACE infrastructure that is scheduled (or anticipated to be scheduled) for repair or replacement. USACE coastal navigation assets include: 1,067 navigation projects, 19 lock chambers, 13,000 miles of channels, 929 navigation structures, and 844 bridges. USACE inland navigation assets include: 27 inland river systems, 207 lock chambers (at 171 lock sites), and 12,000 miles of inland river channels. Many of the structures associated with these assets are in need of repair or replacement. This project seeks to incorporate EWN alternatives into project designs.

  • POC: Jeff King
  • Email: Jeff.K.King@usace.army.mil
  • Project Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Products:
    • King, J. K., R. Holmes, G. Wirth, J. Holzeman, S. Burkholder, T. Sekoni, B. Suedel, B. Boyd, T. Bridges. Incorporating Ecological and Social Benefits into Land Planning and Development through Integration of Engineering With Nature® (EWN®) and Landscape Architectural Practices. Proceedings of the Smart Rivers 2019 Conference, Lyon, France, September 30 – October 4, 2019.
    • Abstract (PDF)
    • Proceedings paper (PDF)
    • Platform presentation (PDF)