Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Hydrology and hydraulics section cross-train fellow employees

Louisville District
Published Oct. 26, 2022
Updated: Oct. 26, 2022

Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Section conducted a stream walk where H&H Limnologist Zac Wolf spoke on biology, ecology and water quality and H&H Engineer Jake Allgeier discussed hydrology and geomorphology at Floyds Fork at Beckley Creek Park, in Louisville, Kentucky, Oct. 6. 
The event was an opportunity for fellow Louisville District employees in the H&H section to educate their peers. 
“We have lots of employees who work with water resources in specific ways, and this is an opportunity to provide education in other disciplines to allow for a more well-rounded water resources knowledge,” Wolf said. “Basically, the goal is to connect with the various disciplines to better understand each other and hope it improves collaboration and partnership.”
Even though they are closely related, Allgeier explained the differences between H&H.
“In very basic terms, hydrology is centered around quantifying water – how does it fall, where does it accumulate, how does it interact with the landscape, and how do things like evaporation, vegetation, and soil interact with the rainfall. Hydraulics is centered around studying and estimating the water’s movement, specifically as that water accumulates in rivers and streams,” Allgeier said. “In other words, hydrology estimates how much and how quickly water makes its way into the stream, and hydraulics is used to estimate the movement and depth of that water in the river. The two are often interconnected, hence H&H.”
Both Wolf and Allgeier used the walk to explain their specialties to their fellow employees to educate them. 
“I focused on riverine engineering principles, which include aspects of hydrology, hydraulics, geomorphology and sediment transport. I talked about how natural and human-influenced factors impact stream quality,” Allgeier said. “We generally think of streams as natural systems – and sometimes they are – but more often streams have been modified (straightened, stretched, moved, dredged and deepened) by humans in ways that have long lasting and potentially unexpected consequences. In the field, I tried to highlight what impacts humans have had on the stream, and some of the intended and unintended consequences of those actions as they relate to USACE’s mission.”
On the other hand, Wolf had a different educational lesson. 
“I provided instruction on biological principles. I talked about different types of organisms in the stream and other freshwater bodies and led the group in collections of fish and aquatic invertebrates,” Wolf said. 
Events like this are important for employees for cross-training purposes. 
“We all tend to operate in our own lanes depending on our jobs and past education/training. The stream walk is a way to cross-train engineers who may not have much experience with biological processes, or vice versa to train biologists in how an engineer may view stream processes. These diverse perspectives allow us to approach old problems with new solutions,” Allgeier said. 
Wolf and Allgeier brought this event back with a new take than before and hope to have more events like this in the future at different locations. 
“It’s a fun way to learn about many different aspects of the systems we work with. Being able to reach across disciplines is unique I think,” Wolf said. “We as humans split things into different categories (e.g., biology, conservation, hydraulic engineering, hydrology), but in reality they’re all interconnected. Effects go both ways, where our management impacts nature but nature also impacts our management. Working together is key.”
While both Wolf and Allgeier plan for more events like this, Wolf shared additional information in hopes to educate more people about his discipline. 
“Did you know, as part of their lifecycle, many freshwater mussels have a larval stage where they attach to the gills of a fish or salamander, feed off of the blood of their host, and then drop off once they have grown enough? Because mussels can’t move, this is how they can disperse and spread their young around, even up the flow of rivers,” Wolf said. “In order to get fish/salamanders close enough to attach, the mother mussel must lure them in, such as a fake fish or a fake worm, similar to angling. If you don’t believe me, look up freshwater mussel lures, they’re pretty incredible.”

Chick Lock

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