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Brownfields - Urban Waters Program

Brownfields - Urban Waters Program

The U.S. Army Corps is a partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies in helping communities prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse Brownfields. Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Livable communities are towns and cities in which people's everyday needs are met without placing the needs of future generations at risk. They are communities that have good schools, meaningful jobs, safe streets, healthy environments, and plenty of natural green spaces. A livable community is one that people can take pride in. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a key partner in helping communities across America achieve greater livability and sustain a high quality of life.

Communities that want to safely and sustainably reuse Brownfields or deal with other livability issues are faced with a number of challenges. Among the most serious of these challenges are:

  • Translating multiple stakeholder needs into the sustainable reuse of Brownfields sites;
  • Understanding a variety of federal, state and local environmental regulations;
  • Obtaining funds for site assessment and cleanup; and,
  • Selecting technologies and processes that assure rapid, inexpensive and effective site assessment, cleanup and restoration.

USACE helps both civilian communities and military installations through a variety of planning; design and construction, program and project management, contracting, real estate, and operation and maintenance activities. Our engineering capabilities are brought to bear on an equally wide variety of engineering challenges to include, but not limited to, flood control and navigation, emergency response, remediation of hazardous waste sites; environmental restoration, stewardship and compliance; infrastructure renewal and water resource development. Corps of Engineers capabilities that can make a difference for communities include:

  • Responding quickly through a nationwide organization;
  • Ability to assemble agile, multidisciplinary technical teams;
  • Providing a structured, rational approach to ensures "best fit" decisions for problem solving;
  • Facilitating/brokering cooperative arrangements among multiple constituencies;
  • Providing life-cycle project services
  • Performing high quality work on time and on budget that meets or exceed customer expectations; and,
  • Providing contractor oversight with the public's interest in mind.

Corps engineering capabilities are being put to work in helping communities across the United States solve their Brownfields and other livability challenges. These capabilities fall into four broad categories: Site Assessment, Site Remediation, Site Redevelopment, and Sustainable Reuse.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also is an active member of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which is designed to reconnect urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community‐led revitalization efforts to improve our Nation’s water systems and promote their economic, environmental and social benefits. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership looks to promote more efficient and effective use of federal resources, build on local efforts and leadership, help leverage area resources and learn from early victories to enhance long-term action.

Seven pilot locations have been identified to enhance existing work: the Anacostia Watershed in the Washington, D.C., area; the Patapsco Watershed in Maryland; the Bronx and Harlem River Watersheds; the South Platte River in Denver; the Los Angeles River Watershed; the Lake Pontchartrain Area near New Orleans; and the Northwest Indiana Area.