Dennis Potter receives EPA's Bronze Medal for Iowa floods contributions
Dennis Potter (left), quality assurance engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, receives the Environmental Protection Agency's Bronze Medal for Commendable Service from Sacramento District commander Col. Thomas Chapman at District headquarters.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Aca,!" U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District quality assurance engineer Dennis Potter received the Environmental Protection AgencyAca,!a,,cs Bronze Medal for Commendable Service for his efforts during the June 2008 Iowa floods.

Sacramento District Engineer Col. Tom Chapman presented Potter with the EPA award in recognition of PotterAca,!a,,cs involvement with EPAAca,!a,,cs Region 7 Water Emergency Planning and Preparation (WEPP) team. The region began working with large, medium and small drinking water systems to complete vulnerability assessments after the passage of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. The WEPP team was formed soon after and began holding conferences and training workshops in St. Louis and Kansas City, meeting every two months. The workshops focus on emergency response exercises and coordination among local, state and federal agencies.

Potter has been with the Corps since 1976, joining the Sacramento District in 1984. He has worked in hydraulics, hydrology, civil works design, military design and hazardous toxic waste.

In 2002 he began working in construction operations, primarily on Sacramento DistrictAca,!a,,cs military and civil works projects. His job is to review the planning and preparation of various Sacramento District projects. Aca,!A"I see most every project that comes through the district,Aca,!A? he said.

Aca,!A"It is a lot less expensive to correct something on a drawing rather than when a guy dumps 10 tons of asphalt on the ground when it is supposed to be concreteAca,!A| then things get expensive,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"I make sure they can construct it and the contract has the language in it that wonAca,!a,,ct tie the project up.Aca,!A?

Soon after arriving in construction operations, Potter said he was listed by the districtAca,!a,,cs safety office as a water-wastewater subject matter expert.

This resulted from PotterAca,!a,,cs previous deployments as a water and wastewater expert to Guam following two typhoon hits in 2002: Typhoon Chata'an in July and Supertyphoon Pongsona in December.

Potter was sitting in a dentistAca,!a,,cs chair getting a crown placed when he got the call to deploy to Iowa. Aca,!A"I got a phone call saying thereAca,!a,,cs flooding in Iowa, we need you as a water-wastewater subject matter expert to team up with the EPAAca,!A| So I said Aca,!Eoesure,Aca,!a,,c and the next morning I was on a flight to Iowa,Aca,!A? he said.

First, he flew into Des Moines to stop at the CorpsAca,!a,,c Rock Island District for some equipment. Then, he teamed with EPAAca,!a,,cs Region 7 WEPP team and inspected two urban wastewater lagoons. He spent nearly two days writing standard operating procedures for the type of work they were doing.

Only one water system out of 96 went completely offline during the WEPP teamAca,!a,,cs response to the 2008 Iowa floods, demonstrating the teamAca,!a,,cs successful work to educate local water system managers about critical infrastructure, security and emergency response coordination.

HeAca,!a,,cs grateful for the award, he said, but believes it was the hard work of the entire team that led to the success of the operation.

Aca,!A"The EPA crew had spent at least a year, if not more with their WEPP team, and these are the people who really deserve the award,Aca,!A? Potter said.

Page last updated Wed September 28th, 2011 at 19:40