Let me start by saying that during my first few months as the district commander, I have had the pleasure of visiting many of our field locations, and I could not be prouder of the work we do at this district.
We had an unprecedented fiscal year in 2023, and we accomplished a tremendous amount of work for the region and the nation, thanks to our employees. We did it all while welcoming a new group of senior leaders, including myself.
We hired 87 new employees who have brought their skills and talent to an already talented group of people. We onboarded a new deputy district engineer, Brian Trzaska, and bid farewell to our chiefs of engineering and construction, Mark Jones, and office of counsel, Rich Sprunk. But in true Pittsburgh District form, we had some talented employees step up into those positions temporarily to keep the district on mission.
Throughout the year, the Pittsburgh District supported nine emergency response deployments. We oversaw the distribution of $81 million in FEMA aid for temporary power across the nation, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico.
Our employees deployed four times in response to natural disasters, and our readiness office conducted training to assist critical public facilities in Allegheny County and participated in 12 dam safety exercises. Al Coglio, our chief of emergency response, and his team’s training strengthened our communities’ resilience and reinforced our partnerships.
The Engineering and Construction Division had an outstanding year. They filled the newly-constructed lock chamber at Charleroi on the Monongahela River with 18.5 million gallons of water and installed new miter gates after nearly two decades of construction.
As part of the multi-billion-dollar Upper Ohio Navigation Project, we broke ground on the concrete batch plant at Montgomery Locks and Dam, marking the beginning of the construction of a new 110-foot-wide by 600-foot-long navigation chamber.
At Emsworth Locks and Dams, we began drilling into the bottom of the riverbed to prepare for future lock construction. These upper Ohio River projects will guide our district’s mission for decades to come.
Our construction team awarded 27 contracts, totaling nearly $80 million for various projects, including new gate operating machinery at Crooked Creek and Tionesta, fish reefs on the Ohio and Monongahela rivers, new warning signs on the Allegheny River and so much more throughout our district.
The Planning, Programs, and Project Management division oversaw $133 million in operations and maintenance funding and completed several studies specializing in flood plains, interagency and support to our region, as well as continuing flood risk reduction studies in Hawaii and North Carolina. These studies reflect the trust and reputation we have built.
Our locks passed more than 173 million tons of cargo. In Fiscal Year 2023, nearly 23,000 vessels came through our locks and dams, a 51 percent increase from the previous year.
Our dedicated lock and dam teams keep navigation flowing year-round, day and night, in rain, sunshine, ice, snow, or fog. Our lock personnel and our reservoir staff are the face of this district, making us all proud every day.
The district’s flood risk reduction projects and reservoirs continue to save hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damages and safeguard lives in five states daily.
Two of our dams celebrated monumental anniversaries. Woodcock Creek Lake turned 50 and Youghiogheny River Lake celebrated 75 of service to the public.
More than five million visitors enjoyed our reservoirs for fishing, camping, hiking and boating. Our federal lands offer lasting memories to families, and our park rangers participated in hundreds of public events that continue to strengthen relationships with local schools, community service partners and first responders.
Our water quality team performed the first ever spring pulse event. It was a project seven years in the making, releasing 3.2 billion gallons of water from Kinzua Dam, helping our ecosystem by moving sediments and nutrients down the Allegheny River.
The district’s logistics team added $5.5 million in new property, and disposed of over $1.5 million in equipment.
Our regulatory team issued more than 800 permits, and resolved 33 unauthorized activities and six non-compliance actions, all while operating under the context of uncertain changes affecting the Waters of the United States.
The contracting office completed 511 actions and obligated more than $144 million throughout the year. The real estate office completed 570 actions in 25 business lines providing a benefit of $470,000 to the district.
Our resource management office executed $81 million in labor funds, ensuring our more than 700 employees are paid on time, providing income to their families and increasing the economic value to the region.
These are just the highlights of what this district has accomplished during Fiscal Year 2023. I know there are a hundred-million little things that happen every day to ensure the district missions are accomplished, and each and every employee plays a role in our success. Thank you all for your dedication and commitment.
We have a lot of exciting work ahead of us as we welcome Fiscal Year 2024.
Headwaters Excellence! Essayons!