District staff participated in Water Expo on the campus of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in early October joining other agencies to celebrate and collaborate about water-related challenges facing coastal areas of New York and New Jersey.
The Expo, an annual event, explored different facets of sustainability such as avoiding depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance, and water resiliency, the ability of a system or community to resist and recover from a hazard.
Sponsored by Leaders in Environmental Advocacy at Pratt, a group of graduate students furthering sustainable solutions in New York City and beyond, some 15 organizations with water-based missions participated, including New York City H2O, New York City Dept. of Parks and Recreation, the Waterfront Alliance, and others.
The event was divided into two sessions. In the morning, groups assembled outdoors on the main lawn where the New York District staff set up a display, including large poster boards illustrating Army Corps projects. Project manager Lisa Baron and Anthony Ciorra, Chief of Coastal Restoration and Special Projects Branch, spoke to students, faculty and the public about New York’s water-resource missions throughout 1,600 miles of coastline in the New York Metro region. One topic of discussion was the restoration of the Jamaica Bay Marsh Islands ̶ providing critical habitat in Jamaica Bay providing secondary coastal storm risk management benefits to communities in Brooklyn and Queens, NY. Additional important discussions focused on how the district is working to reduce the risk of flooding in the region through the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Study.
The afternoon session featured formal presentations indoors. To that end, Anthony Ciorra provided an overview of the District and its many waterborne missions, focusing on the deepening of the New York-New Jersey Harbor federal navigation channel to 50 feet, allowing larger container ships access to the port. He noted how important this is to the regional economy, as it generates billions of dollars in commerce each year. Ciorra also spoke about Hurricane Sandy, a major storm that struck the Northeastern U.S. in 2012. He told the audience the New York District expects to receive more than $3 billion in federal funds through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (Public Law 113.2) to repair areas of the New York and New Jersey coastlines damaged by the storm and to construct previously authorized but unconstructed coastal storm risk management projects.
The event was part of a larger effort at the school known as Blue Week. Sponsored by the Pratt Sustainability Coalition (faculty, administrators and students incorporating ecologically-responsible practices into curricula and programs), a week-long series of campus events were held celebrating the life-giving force of water, including respecting the water, the life forms living in it, and the water we drink.
As a backdrop, Pratt students constructed a “Blue Wave,” displayed on the main lawn. It’s a structure made entirely from one day’s worth of plastic waste from campus buildings. Shaped as a breaking wave, it’s part of a scientific study of plastic waste at Pratt.
FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT RECRUITMENT
New York District also incorporated a recruitment element. Representatives from Human Resources distributed information about an upcoming career fair at District Headquarters, and provided visitors an overview of District missions throughout the New York Metropolitan area and beyond.