NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 22, 2015) – A new hire recently grabbed the helm of navigation and took charge of hydropower for the Nashville District, a move to increase oversight of navigation operations on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers and power generation in the Cumberland River Basin.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District recently named Chris Atkins, a native of Helena, Ark., as the new chief of the Operations Division’s Technical Services Branch.
Diane Parks, Operations Division chief, said Atkins assumes the position and responsibility of working closely with managers from the Hydropower, Electronic Support and Navigation Branches.
“We are very fortunate he (Atkins) decided to work in the Nashville District and look forward to him sharing his broad range of navigation knowledge and engineering expertise that will improve the district,” Parks said.
In his new job, Atkins is serving as the principal technical advisor and consultant to the operations chief and district engineer for the operations and maintenance program for navigation, flood risk reduction, recreation, natural resources management and hydropower production.
Atkins said the Nashville District’s hydropower and navigation projects on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers attracted him to the position.
“I jumped at the opportunity to work in the Nashville District because of the many hydropower projects and variety of navigation projects which affords me the opportunity to work with some smart people,” said Atkins.
Atkins has 12 years of federal service with the St. Paul and Memphis Districts. Prior to his selection for the new post, he served as St. Paul’s chief, lock and dam project manager and Memphis’ Plant Section chief with experience in navigation on the Mississippi River. He has also served numerous positions that ranges from operations project manager, resident engineer to chief of Navigation and Maintenance sections.
“Nashville is a great place to work to gain more hydropower experience and understand navigational situations so I’m excited to be here,” Atkins said. “My approach is to absorb as much information as possible, learn as much as I can from the folks already here and listen to what is working.”
Nashville District's Navigation Branch is responsible for maintaining 14 navigation locks and over 1,100 miles of navigable river channels on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, which represents 10 percent of the U.S. Inland Waterway System. The district’s Hydropower Branch operates nine multi-purpose projects with hydroelectric power plants. The power plants have 28 generators and produce about $40 million each year in revenue for the U.S. Treasury
“This is the right opportunity for me,” Atkins said. “Time makes you better at a job and I have enjoyed my time at the other districts, but this job fits where I’m going in my career.”
He deployed with the Corps for flood fights in Minot, S.D., and after Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Rita.
“I’ve taken some tough assignments but it has been worth it,” Atkins said.
Atkins holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in structural engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He also holds a masters in project management and finance. He is a registered professional engineer in Tennessee
Parks added that Atkins will manage and work with the hydropower trainees spread throughout the district.
The Nashville District operates nine multi-purpose projects in the Cumberland River Basin, which produced 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014. Sales of this electricity yielded about $57 million dollars of revenue in 2014 for the U.S. Treasury.
Atkins said he is excited about taking the challenges with his new position and is eager to get started, and to begin the process of working with everyone in the organization.
“My approach is to come in learn as much as I can and get familiar with the projects and identify areas we can improve. With that method, we should be alright,” said Atkins.
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