JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Taking advantage of one of the most important international conferences on ports and dredging being held literally across the river from its offices, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District made great strides in letting the industry know of its involvement.

The American Society of Civil Engineers "Ports 2010" conference in April was attended by approximately 2,000 ports representatives from around the globe. The Jacksonville District team played a key role in the program.

In addition to the Jacksonville District's participation, Maj. Gen. Merdith W.B. (Bo) Temple, USACE deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations, addressed the opening-day crowd and spoke of the Corps' cooperative efforts with the commercial world.

"We have a big program scattered all over the Atlantic, literally," Temple told the crowd. "We have a vision to become a great engineering organization. More can and will be done if we put our heads together and develop more integrated water solutions at the state, local and federal levels."

Jackie Keiser, chief of the dredging section of the Coastal, Navigation and Antilles Branch Project Management Division, said, "We had moderators and presenters involved on the first day of the conference. Jacksonville District had a strong presence at the conference and we were noticed by the other participants."

The district's participation at the conference was noted by the Jacksonville, Fla., Times-Union's environmental writer, Steve Patterson, in an in-depth story, which quoted district presenters on the Jacksonville Harbor project.

"New technology and lessons from old mistakes will help forecast environmental and financial costs of dredging Jacksonville's harbor before work begins," Patterson wrote after listening to three Corps seminar presenters.

Samantha Borer, Planning Division, served as moderator for a navigation and waterways seminar. Engineering Division's Tracey Leeser and Kelly Legault gave presentations on costs of deepening Jacksonville Harbor and modeling the Jacksonville Harbor project respectively. Dick Powell, Planning Division, presented planning options for the same project. Operations Division was also involved on the first day of the conference, as they offered tours and demonstrated the newly-installed hydrographic survey system on the district's survey vessel Florida, docked near the hotel. Giving the on-board tours and demonstrations were Rob Jenkins, civil engineering technician Lisa Holland, and boat captain Tony Maze.

"We stood out at the conference," Keiser said. "We are the lead in navigation in Florida and I believe we showed that during the event."

Other participants were equally as positive about the experience.

"The ports conference was vital to us because it brought worldwide success stories to our backyard," said Tim Murphy, Project Management Division. "We learned from the best on the planet."

"The ports conference allowed us a great opportunity to network and interact with the private sector in a way we seldom can," said Shelley Trulock, Project Management Division. "Our experiences in the conference gave us a better understanding of the wide variety of issues facing this industry and how they affect commerce."

"We in the Operations Division were really glad to take part in the conference with our survey vessel," said Lisa Holland. "It was a great chance to present the Corps' latest hydrographic survey capabilities right here where we operate on the St. Johns River."

Messages delivered by presenters also stressed the importance to the Jacksonville District of using the latest technical advances available.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' mission in the Jacksonville Harbor project includes the latest cost estimating tool for each different type of dredge," said Tracy Leeser.
"We were asked for out-of-the-box thinking on this project and we responded accordingly."

Kelly Legault addressed an audience of about 70 in her seminar about designing the Jacksonville Harbor project.

"We are using the latest project design tools for the Jacksonville Harbor project," shesaid. "We need to fully understand the impacts of salinity on the project. That's where our modeling system will come into play and help us reach accurate conclusions."