New England News Releases

USACE hosts open house August 1 in Oxford, Mass., for Hodges Village Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house August 1, 2024, in Oxford, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 1976 Hodges Village Dam Master Plan for the Hodges...
USACE hosts open house July 31 in Monson, Mass., for Conant Brook Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house July 31, 2024, in Monson, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 1998 Conant Brook Dam Master Plan for the Conant...
USACE hosts open house July 30 in Uxbridge, Mass., for West Hill Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house July 30, 2024, in Uxbridge, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 2011 West Hill Dam Master Plan for the West Hill...

Top Rotator

Local bird watchers descended upon West Hill Dam armed with pen, paper and a few binoculars to participate in West Hill Dam’s annual Backyard Bird Count.
Construction of the System Management Engineering Facility (SMEF), the 40,000 square foot, 2-story addition, is well underway and progressing rapidly.
For vessels wanting to enter Plymouth waters, dredging to remove shoals from the Plymouth Harbor federal navigation project in Massachusetts is currently underway and on schedule.

News From Around the Corps

J. Strom Thurmond Lake Project installs homes for our furry flying friends
5/28/2024
SAVANNAH, Ga. – J. Strom Thurmond Lake, also known as Clarks Hill Lake, nestled between the states of Georgia and South Carolina, is not only a scenic haven for outdoor enthusiasts, but also a...
Mobile District completes project in historic Selma
7/9/2024
Sometimes, the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finds them helping to preserve or protect historic locations and sites.The Mobile District participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the...
RIBITS: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability in Compensatory Mitigation
6/27/2024 UPDATED
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – (June 27, 2024) RIBITS, an acronym for Regulatory In-lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System, might sound technical, but its significance is simple: it's a public-facing...

Feature Stories

Engineer earns praise for work on International Levee Handbook

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District
Published Nov. 6, 2014
Lt. Col. Charles Gray, deputy district engineer, presents Rosemary Schmidt, chief, Geology and Chemistry Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, with a plaque of appreciation for her contributions to the International Levee Handbook. The handbook is a collaboration between the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Lt. Col. Charles Gray, deputy district engineer, presents Rosemary Schmidt, chief, Geology and Chemistry Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, with a plaque of appreciation for her contributions to the International Levee Handbook. The handbook is a collaboration between the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Rosemary Schmidt, chief, Geology and Chemistry Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, tours the Thames River Barrier in London, U.K., as a contributor for the International Levee Handbook.

Rosemary Schmidt, chief, Geology and Chemistry Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, tours the Thames River Barrier in London, U.K., as a contributor for the International Levee Handbook.

Rosemary Schmidt, Chief, Geology and Chemistry Section for Engineering/Planning, received a plaque from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Levee Safety Program during the Nov. 6 Command and Staff Meeting held in the Concord Park theater in Concord, Massachusetts.

Schmidt, who is a supervisory geologist and has been with the New England District since May 1992, received the award for her outstanding contributions to the International Levee Handbook. She was one of many contributors to the manual throughout the Corps. 

“My involvement on the International Levee Handbook began in the fall of 2010,” said Schmidt. “At the encouragement of my former supervisor, Dr. Raimo Liias, I replied to an e-mail that had been sent out from Corps Headquarters, and I was selected to serve as the U.S. point of contact for "Chapter 7 on Site Characterization." I worked closely with the overall Chapter Lead, Shaun Wersching, a geotechnical engineer with CH2M Hill in the United Kingdom, and was responsible for coordinating input from all U.S. contributors, and ensuring linkage with the other related chapters on levee inspection, design, and construction.” 

The handbook was published by CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association). 

“This handbook was a collaboration between the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany,” said Schmidt’s supervisor Dave Margolis, Chief, GeoEnvironmental Engineering Branch. 

According to Margolis, the governments of these countries realized a need for a single reference on good practice in the management and design of levees. “Rose was a major contributor to Chapter 7.”

Chapter 7 was over 300 pages on its own. Writing something so massive and on such a global scale didn't come without challenges. “Our first big surprise was that our chapter included characterizing both subsurface conditions and site hydrology/hydraulics, which required close collaboration with H & H team members,” said Schmidt. “What we discovered is that universally there is relatively little interaction between the two fields, as the hydrology/hydraulics effort is primarily up front, in determining the height required for a given level of protection (storm event), while the geotechnical engineering and geology effort is much later. Without Andy Gaines (MVM) covering the hydrology and hydraulics, we would have been adrift without a paddle,” she said.

According to Schmidt, unlike siting a dam, where a move upstream or downstream may be feasible to avoid poor ground conditions, there is not the same sort of flexibility with levees, and so potential problem areas are best identified during site characterization and accounted for during design.

Another challenge was that although many people from all over the globe were writing Chapter 7, it had to have a uniform style.

“It was a mammoth effort to draft an outline, showing a logical sequence of topics, and then identify the proper individuals who could make contributions for each topic, and then at the end of the day, still ensuring that the writing style reflected ‘one voice,’” said Schmidt. “Chapter 7 was truly an international collaboration, with roughly 40 individuals representing five countries, from both government agencies and private sector, contributing to the chapter. It was also a fantastic opportunity to meet and work with the other U.S. chapter leads, such as Christina Neutz (LRL) and Jamie McVicker (MVS), as well as the international team leading the effort, especially Jonathan Simm (HR Wallingford, United Kingdom) who helped guide the overall effort. Corps Headquarters support from Eric Halpin and Tammy Conforti was also greatly appreciated.”

Even language sometimes had to be defined. “It was interesting adapting to British English, and use of terms not normally used on U.S. levees; for example, ‘hidey-holes’ instead of animal burrows,” said Schmidt. 

Working on the chapter provided Schmidt and the team some unique opportunities as well. “We introduced the term ‘Conceptual Site Model’ to the levee community,” she said. “The CSM is a common term used in the environmental field to express the conceptual understanding of site subsurface conditions, and how the geologic depositional environments and the resulting material properties (strength, permeability) in turn impact project performance (stability, seepage and piping, etc.). It’s an opportunity to get inside the designer’s head, to understand how the designer perceived the site, and how this understanding was translated into design assumptions.”

When Chapter 7 was completed, it joined nine other chapters to complete the massive manual.  “The first six chapters are geared to an audience of levee owners and operators, while chapters 7 through 10 will be of interest to those responsible for designing and constructing levees,” said Schmidt.

Looking back at the experience, Schmidt said that she enjoyed the tours of the Thames River Barrier and the Sacramento levees. “One of my favorite memories was coming into the office for a 4 a.m. conference call,” she said.

The award Schmidt received during the Command and Staff Meeting was signed by James Dalton, P.E., SES, Chief Engineering and Construction Division, Directorate of Civil Works; Eric Halpin, P.E., Special Assistant for the Dam and Levee Safety Program; and Tammy Conforti, P.E., Levee Safety Program Manager.

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