Colonel Karl D. Jansen visits Lock and Dam 10

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Colonel Karl D. Jansen, right, the 66th commander and district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul district, toured Lock and Dam 10 in Guttenberg on July 31. Lock and Dam employee Kory Warrington, left, led the tour. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The origin of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District traces back to 1866. At that time, Congress authorized the Corps of Engineers to establish a four-foot navigation channel on the upper Mississippi River. Major Gouverneur K. Warren, acclaimed for his leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg, was assigned to establish the district and conduct preliminary surveys of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Warren opened the first district office in August of 1866. 

Currently, the St. Paul District employs nearly 700 professionals. These individuals serve the American public in the areas of navigation, flood risk management, environmental enhancement, water and wetland regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. 

Colonel Karl D. Jansen has recently assumed command as the St. Paul District's 66th commander and district engineer. The change of command ceremony was held at the Landmark Center in St. Paul on July 10.

Col. Jansen, a registered professional engineer and certified project management professional, earned a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering from the United States Military Academy, a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Washington and a master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.  

Col. Jansen has most recently served as executive officer to the commanding general, USACE in Washington, D.C. Col. Jansen earned his commission from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1997. Prior to that his assignments included the 72nd Commander of the USACE Buffalo District and tactical assignments at Fort Polk, La.; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and Fort Stewart, Ga.

Col. Jansen's operational experience includes duty with the Defense Chemical Nuclear and Biological Response Force and overseas deployments in support of operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Desert Fox. 

He was affiliated with the International Joint Commission and participated in responses to western Washington flooding and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. In addition he gained experience with the navigation, flood risk management, regulatory and environmental business lines, including the Formerly Used Defense Sites Remedial Action Program. 

The St. Paul District encompasses most of Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northeastern North Dakota, a small portion of northeastern South Dakota and northeastern Iowa. 

Col. Jansen, his wife and their two children, Henry, 15, and Peter, 13, reside in Lake Elmo, Minn. The family enjoys fishing, scouting and railway modeling. Col. Jansen commented, "The train whistles in the community captured my attention. They blast for a long time!"

In the 1930s, President Herbert Hoover signed the 9-foot-channel bill, beginning the creation of the lock and dam systems that are positioned up and down the Mississippi River. Jansen told The Press, "The aging systems are due for a period of large maintenance projects to keep them functional and safe for future use." He went on to say, "Each Lock and Dam on the Mississippi River still has the original miter gates that were installed in the 1930s. In the next 10 years we will begin to replace each set of gates in the St. Paul District."

Upcoming projects

Each Lock and Dam was built with an auxiliary lock chamber. The projected river traffic was over-estimated and the additional lock chambers were never utilized. "We will be blocking off those chambers by driving steel piles to create a dam to keep the pool intact," he shared.  

"Additional upcoming projects at Lock and Dam 10 will include a scheduled de-watering of the lock chamber to inspect and repair the area, replacement of the tow rails and inspection, repairs and painting of the rollers, during the off-season," he said. 

The Corps continues to maintain and stabilize the river through frequent dredging projects. Jansen explained, "The normal flow of the river causes sedimentation. The St. Paul District sees a million cubic yards of sediment a year. An increase in flooding has caused that number to rise. We are always looking for creative ways to remove and redeposit the sediment." 

The Corps is in the planning stages of the habitat rehabilitation and enhancement of the lower pool 10 islands. "We are in the process of planning and designing the project in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin and Iowa Department of Natural Resources and local interests," he continued. "Many natural islands that border the navigation channel, and those extending into the backwaters have eroded due to wave action and main channel flows. The erosion has resulted in a reduction of wetland areas and a loss of aquatic vegetation in shallow areas that protect the survival of local fish and wildlife. We are hoping to redeposit a portion of the sediment we dredge out of the channel to enhance the islands' borders."

The project design, construction, operation and maintenance cost are all 100 percent federally funded. 

The Corps is also working on updating its Upper Mississippi River Master Plan, something that hasn't been updated since 1988. The Upper Mississippi River project encompasses 240 miles and nearly 52,000 acres on the Mississippi River from Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam (Minneapolis, Minn.) to Lock & Dam 10 in Guttenberg. The plan is a strategic land use and recreation management document that will guide the St. Paul District’s management and development of natural, cultural and man-made resources within the Upper Mississippi River for the next 25-30 years. 

Col. Jansen ended our visit with these complimentary words, “I would like to express my appreciation for the hard-working, dedicated, diligent employees of Lock and Dam 10. They work 24/7 to keep our river and the community of Guttenberg safe. They possess the very character of a Corps employee.” 

For additional information and to submit comments on upcoming Army Corps of Engineer Projects concerning Mississippi River Pool 10 go to http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil

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