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Posted 8/16/2017

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Mobile District officials travel to Brazil to discuss waterway development

By John Barker, Mobile District, public affairs specialist

Two representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, visited cities in Brazil to discuss waterway development and management as well as the possibility of future partnerships, Aug. 7-11.

Col. James DeLapp, the Mobile District commander, and Lt. Col. Frankie Flowers, deputy district engineer for Latin America, visited the cities of Brasilia and Araguari, joining Mobile District Engineer Calvin Creech who is based in Brazil.

“Since 2012, Mobile District has partnered with the Brazilian government on waterway development and management,” said Creech. “We’ve shared technical knowledge and training programs with the government of Brazil’s Departamento Nacional de Infraestrutura de Transportes; Companhia de Desenvolvimento dos Vales do São Francisco e do Parnaíba, or CODEVASF; and Agência Nacional de Águas with an estimated value of $17 million.”

Cooperation between CODEVASF and Mobile District, for example, was formalized in 2012 and included 12 projects. The district created modeling in the São Francisco basin which was used for planning and policy proposals, as well as transfer of knowledge and other support activities. The collaboration focuses on stabilization of river banks and improvement of navigation.

“The Brazilian government has expressed extreme satisfaction with the professionalism and expertise provided by the Mobile District and wish to continue to grow our partnership well into the future,” said Flowers. “This partnership came at a critical time for Brazil as they are facing a severe seven-year drought. The drought is causing strain in the Sao Francisco River’s ability to produce hydropower, supply crop irrigation, provide household water and to remain navigable for commerce.”

Another example of the partnership was building the Campo de Provas, a pilot project for erosion control in the Barra region.

"This interaction between technicians and engineers in CODEVASF and the U.S. Army is very positive,” said Inaldo Guerra, director of Revitalization Area Watershed, CODEVASF. “[This is] a professional relationship in which both sides gain knowledge and exchange experiences. The results are projects that benefit the environment and the population.”

“In addition to discussing our current projects, we want to identify possible future collaborative efforts appropriate for the district,” Flowers said. “The Army and the Corps remain interested in seeking partnership opportunities with the Brazilian military that would be of mutual benefit to our long-standing partnership. The Brazilian military is a leader in regional security within South America and beyond. Brazilian Army engineers are well suited to partner with developing regional armies and to support engineer work to promote regional and international security.”

“In the future, we hope to do more work supporting the country’s waterways,” said Creech. “These range from flood-risk management, budgeting and benchmarking for the impacts of floods, river modeling, wastewater treatment, environmental impacts from mining, and regulatory management.”

Opportunities to enhance the partnership come through invitations to symposiums, conferences, site visits and technical exchanges,” Creech explained. For example, DeLapp has already been invited to attend the World Water Forum, the world’s biggest water-related event, which will be held in Brasilia in March 2018.”