ERDC to remain on cutting edge of science

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2009

The news from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center couldn’t augur better for the future of the city, state and nation.

Ground has been broken for a new $16 million Environmental Laboratory structure that will consolidate ERDC’s environmental scientists into one structure, accentuating the importance of their work. Appropriately, the building will incorporate the latest “green” technology.

Since 1928, when the Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with coming up with better ways of managing the Mississippi River and its myriad tributaries to improve flood control and navigation, the center here has been vital to the Corps’ civilian and, more recently, military missions. Corps personnel have been key leaders in this community and the federal payroll is a vital component in the economy.

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Simply said, there is no field of scientific endeavor more crucial to the nation and world than environmental science. ERDC scientists and engineers already have been international leaders in this field and while the building is a “reward” for their efforts, it also signifies there’s much more to be learned and developed.

Speaking at the groundbreaking, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said ERDC and the new lab amount to “Mississippi’s best-kept secret.” It’s true that work done by the federal staff and contractors doesn’t make as many headlines as other public and private ventures. But that’s OK. They are performing basic studies, the rewards of which will be reaped in generations to come, just as the rewards of earlier Corps employees are being realized now.

Having such a major installation call Vicksburg home is an honor for the city. It has been for a long time, and that’s a fact we should never take for granted.