As part of the environmental quality program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District provides an array of environmental services for the U.S. Army Reserve 88th Regional Support Command (RSC), from ensuring Reservists have safe drinking water to performing prescribed burns for invasive species control.
While the Louisville District supports all of the U.S. Army Reserve Regional Commands with environmental services, this year the 88th RSC, which makes up a 19-state area from the Midwest to the Northwest coast, is the biggest customer with 14 projects on the docket.
“A vast majority of the 88th RSC Environmental Division’s work goes to the Louisville District as the environmental service program managers are very diligent and responsive, not only in the execution of the work but to any questions or concerns we have,” said Melani Tescher, chief, Department of Public Works Environmental Division 88th RSC.
The district provides support services and contract management for a multitude of environmental service projects including Safe Drinking Water Act surveys, air emission surveys, invasive species control, natural resource management plans including forest management, indoor firing range cleanups, NEPA support, radiological surveys, radon mitigation, storm-water pollution/prevention plans and preparing environmental condition of property reports.
“We’re happy that the 88th continues to choose us as their preferred mechanism for environmental services,” said Craig Coombs, Louisville District environmental engineer. “We’ve been cultivating this relationship since 2006, and they’re great customers.”
Recently, the Louisville District completed asbestos surveys at 14 U.S. Army Reserve Centers within the command. The contractor conducted visual inspections throughout the facilities, collected samples and prepared reports for the 88th with their findings.
“The surveys intent is to identify asbestos containing materials at the Reserve Centers,” said Coombs. “To protect the workers, the 88th then decides whether to abate or manage in place.”
USACE also conducts drinking water surveys for the Reserve under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Surveys have been completed at 15 facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota with two more facilities scheduled.
The contractor selects two locations at each facility—the closest and the farthest from the tap—and sends off samples to be used for comparison to drinking water standards.
“If there are any exceedances we make recommendations for the 88th to implement,” said Coombs. “We’re ensuring our Reserve Soldiers have a safe source of drinking water when they’re in their facilities.”
Another environmental service USACE provides is cleaning up lead dust from historical indoor firing ranges in many Reserve Centers nationwide. The process is simple, but necessary: wash it, vacuum it, put a sealer on it and test it again for any contaminants/lead particles. “By doing so, it maximizes the Army Reserve’s usable space by reusing the area as office space or storage,” said Coombs.
USACE also prepares Forest Management Plans that maintain a diverse and healthy ecosystem while supporting mission requirements. “This entails taking inventory of forests on site and making recommendations for managing them,” said Coombs, “Sometimes it’s harvesting, sometime it’s leave it be, or maybe even a controlled burn is necessary.”
Controlled burns, which are used for invasive species control, help maintain healthy and diverse ecosystems for fire-dependent species like pine trees.
The 88th RSC had issues at the Silver Springs Local Training Area in Wisconsin and Sunflower LTA in Kansas, as tree growth in certain areas was so dense vehicular and foot traffic, necessary for field training exercises, was constrained and there were potential dangers from falling trees.
“The forest management plans will make recommendations for maintaining a healthy ecosystem that supports the 88th RSC’s mission requirements,” said Coombs.
Because of the district’s relationship with the 88th, when any environmental issue comes up they can call for a quick-fix. In April 2016 the 88th requested support at Fort Snelling in Minnesota to remove 19 ash trees that had been infested by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.
“We enjoy the diversity of the work,” said Carla Heck, USACE Louisville District project manager. “Although some of these projects are smaller, seeing them through to completion makes it nice, and we feel good knowing we’re helping the 88th maintain and maximize the size of its facilities.”