NEWS | Oct. 15, 2018

Pacific Ocean Division Partnering with Allies on Topic of Water

By Ana Allen

DAEJEON, South Korea -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Pacific Ocean Division (POD) is bringing nations together on a universal topic - water.

More than 40 participants from ten nations attended the 2018 Global Technical Exchange, co-hosted in partnership with POD's Far East District, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Center for Water Security & Sustainable Management (I-WSSM), and the Korean Water Resources Corporation (K-water) in Daejeon, Korea.

The five-day workshop included site visits and classroom instruction. During the week, participants visited K-Water's Water Quality Research Center, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Center, Flood and Drought Analysis Information Center, and the Daechung multi-purpose dam to see Korea's state of the art water facilities.

After the site visits, USACE subject matter experts provided a day of training in Shared Vision Planning and IWRM, and three-days of training on the USACE Hydrologic Engineering Center, River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) 2-D modeling software on flood modeling and shared vision planning. The goal of the training was to maximize interoperability, improve shared understanding and to pave the way for future collaborative operations, for the betterment and stability of the region.

"Our goal was to build partner capacity in flood modeling using the USACE HEC-RAS 2D modeling software. The software was first developed in 1964 for use by USACE engineers in their hydrologic studies of American rivers. The software is now used internationally in 200 countries, and has been distributed, at no charge, over a million times through downloads or software transfers," said Evan Ting, POD's Senior Program Manager for International Cooperation.

"USACE has a lot of experience with flood risk mitigation and water resource management, which we've had to gain in response to numerous U.S. water related disasters. Since flooding and water resource management is a USACE core competency and universal concern, it's extremely beneficial to collaborate with our partners to share best practices and lessons learned. The best part of my job is getting to work with our international partners and friends," said Ting.

USACE and K-Water have a long relationship in collaborating bi-laterally, but this exchange was the first multilateral collaborative effort between the two organizations. According to event leads, the exchange also promotes the Department of State Lower Mekong Initiative Program, USAID, USINDOPACOM, and country team strategic objectives.

"For the past 15 years, we've had the extraordinary opportunity to experience a mutual partnership, meeting common goals in water resources development and management, and to promote U.S. and Korean environmental and water resources issues. Today's forum is a culmination of those efforts and takes the essence of all that we have accomplished together and expands it on a larger scale. This is exactly the kind of collaboration that we will experience together through the various seminars, site visits and more," said Col. Theresa Schlosser, Far East District commander.

"This event reflects the spirit of U.S. commitment to partner nation relations. We remain steadfast in our assurance to collaborate together toward water management and flood control. Our combined efforts will no doubt have lasting impacts that will save lives and alleviate suffering," Schlosser continued.

Schlosser also emphasized that every lesson learned and best practice captured would serve to sharpen civil-military coordination and improve the ability to coordinate from among a variety of institutions and countries.

Sopheap Lim, a Khmer native and water resources modeler from the Mekong River Commission, based out of Vientaine, Laos and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, attended the exchange and said that learning about flood modeling directly from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was a priceless opportunity.

"Personally, this model is very powerful and very useful to fulfill my current work. I will apply this tool as a supplementary tool for flood forecasting to produce flood inundation mapping for both Cambodia and Vietnam to minimize loss of the life and other risks due to its frequently flooding. In addition, I will share the knowledge I gained with my team and national line agencies so that they can employ the said tool in other case studies in Lower Mekong Countries, Lim said.

Fellow attendee, Muhammad Bilal Idress, a native Pakistani who is a PhD Research Scholar from the Water Resources Engineering Lab at Hanyang University, South Korea found the course well-constructed and comprehensively designed, enhancing his capabilities.

"The contents helped me expand my hydraulic modelling abilities and provided sufficient practice to get a grasp on complex problem solving techniques on HEC-RAS. Instructors did a splendid job of covering such multiplex topics in this short time. The course not only broaden my hydraulic modelling knowledge, it gave me a chance to build contacts with professionals in my field from different countries. This exposure will help me grow as a water resource professional and to play my part solving water management issues in Pakistan more effectively," Idress said.

"This exchange far exceeded my expectations," said Ting. "We are looking at areas for further multilateral cooperation in executing technical exchanges, data and information sharing, as well as technical expert exchanges," he said. "I think the goal is to take the momentum that we've got and build upon it."

POD and K-water leaders are exploring future collaborations focusing on water resources development and management, as well as continuing coordination for renewing current agreements between the two organizations.