USACE Assists Atlanta During Water Crisis

South Atlantic Division
Published June 7, 2024
Updated: June 7, 2024
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens dressed in a navy blue suit shakes Brian Choate's hand who is dressed in a red polo shirt while Alou Rice dressed in a black shirt looks on.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens welcomed Physical Scientist Brian Choate from Savannah District and Environmental Engineer Alou Rice from Mobile District at city hall where a press conference was held after 2 major water line breaks left portions of the city without water.

Environmental Engineer Alou Rice gives an interview to a reporter in a white shirt at the Hemphill Water Treatment Facility in Atlanta.

Environmental Engineer Alou Rice from Mobile District gives an interview on USACE's role in assisting Atlanta with it's aging water infrastructure at the Hemphill Water Treatment Facility.

Physical Scientist Brian Choate and Environmental Engineer Alou Rice sit at a wood table with a City of Atlanta official at City Hall.

Physical Scientist Brian Choate from Savannah District and Environmental Engineer Alou Rice from Mobile District work with a City of Atlanta planner on technical and future remediation strategy to address the city's aging water infrastructure.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) when multiple water lines broke and left portions of the city without water on Friday, May 31st. Senior leaders from South Atlantic Division, Mobile District and Savannah District worked over the weekend to identify and send emergency management specialists to assist the city. In an interview with news outlets, South Atlantic Division Deputy Commander Col. Matthew McCulley stated, “Our headquarter office is here in Atlanta and we are part of this community. We empathize with the citizens and businesses this has affected. Whether it’s hurricane response, the wildfires in Maui or the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, when our communities are in need, we heed the call.”

Alou Rice, Environmental Engineer with the Mobile District and Brian Choate, Physical Scientist with the Savannah District arrived to assist the City of Atlanta on Tuesday morning. “I got the call Monday morning and on Tuesday morning I was standing with Mayor Dickens at the press conference at City Hall,” said Alou Rice, “I’ve been assisting communities affected by hurricanes for 38 years. We have a team of experts that can provide municipalities guidance on technical repairs and planning to mitigate future events. I like helping people and was pleased when I learned that everyone had water and the boil advisory had been lifted on Thursday morning.”

Under the authority provided by Section 22 of the WRDA of 1974 (PL 93-251), as amended, the USACE can provide states and local governments assistance in the preparation of comprehensive plans for the development, utilization and conservation of water and related land resources. The South Atlantic Division is working with the city to investigate the viability of doing a Planning of Assistance to States study to perform a full physical and operational assessment of the entire water system with the city of Atlanta. Brian Choate stated, “Atlanta experienced a very unfortunate one in a million coincidence of having 2 major lines break at nearly the same time, one did not cause the other, so this is a rare occurrence. The work that Atlanta has put in over the past few days has put them in a much better position should this happen again. Our plan moving forward has the possibility of becoming a model for how other major cities address aging water infrastructure.”