Posts filed under ‘Environmental Engineering issues’

No Time For Waste(water) In DC!

DC tunnelAn earth-moving event is underway in Washington D.C. Only this time it’s not on Capitol Hill. This one is happening approximately 100 feet underground to fix runoff and wastewater problems that have afflicted the District of Columbia since the 1800’s.

DC Water is conducting a $2.6 billion project to install 13 miles of new sewer tunnels under the nation’s capital. This effort will be the largest infrastructure project for Washington, D.C. that most people will never see. The effort, expected to be completed in 2022, will clean up local waterways while fixing an antiquated and poorly designed wastewater infrastructure.

Around the time of the Civil War, the district installed a combined sewage system. So when it rains, storm water mixes with wastewater and overwhelms the current system. As expected, the result is disgusting!

Neighborhoods are forced to endure flooding and more than two million gallons of polluted water flow into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, as well as Rock Creek each year. This isn’t the type of information to be found in flyers produced by the local board of tourism or in new home listings. On a positive note, the new sewer system is expected to decrease local flooding to only minimal rain water and reduce the runoff into nearby tributaries by 96 percent.

The first leg of the project was successfully completed in July 2015. The Lady Bird, a 440-foot long, 1,300 ton tunnel boring machine, completed a 4.5 mile long conduit wide enough for subway cars. After two years, Lady Bird traveled approximately 4 inches every minute, 24-hours each day for six days each week. It cleared earth and rock while also laying reinforced concrete walls as it advanced. For the next seven years, boring work for smaller passageways will continue in order to connect the remaining 8.5 miles of sewer lines to the large tunnel made by the Lady Bird.

The first update to the D.C. sewer system since the late 1800s will benefit thousands of people while improving quality of life. The underground project addresses local sewer problems that have persisted and magnified as a result of more than 100 years of urban development.

As a civil engineering recruiter, I see that mega projects to repair or replace infrastructures systems, like the improvement to D.C’s sewer system, the Crescent Corridor Extension and the future Tappan Zee Bridge, ensures a lively job market. What are some other needed infrastructure improvements to be planned and implemented?

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Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 30, 2015 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Hurricane Katrina 10th Anniversary

On August 29, The City of New Orleans will experience the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. With the expertise of planners, architects, engineers, construction teams, The City of New Orleans has improved its hurricane protection system, upgrading and repairing much of the destroyed infrastructure. As we reported over the past 10 years, a number of the failed levees came from design oversights. This disaster proved to be a wake-up call for cities and states across the US.

We at CivilEngineeringCentral.com thank the teams in the architectural, engineering, planning and construction industry for their work in repairing previous failures and for securing our infrastructure. Lessons learned the hard way.

New_Orleans_Hurricane_System_Failure_Graphic-2

Note: Failure image above and the “5 Civil Engineering Failures that lead to Design Breakthroughs and New Technologies” can be located at Ohio University, Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

August 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm 1 comment

Potable Water…From a Billboard?

To kickoff its application process last year, The University of Engineering & Technology of Peru addressed a serious problem while providing a message of hope.

With a poor economy and an annual rain fall of next to nothing, many citizens lack potable water. With an atmospheric humidity of 98%, the University created a billboard that not only advertised UTEC, but also captured the humidity producing potable water accessible via spigots at the bottom of the structure. This project helps hundreds of families each month.

We take water for granted here in the United States, and such an engineering project would be merely a stunt on our turf. But the ingenuity used here is not only inspiring  future engineers in Peru, but it is making an impact, and that is what I love about engineers – wherever they are in the world, they can make a tremendous impact to their communities.

 


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

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July 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm 1 comment

Is There A Future in Civil/Structural Shweebeneering?

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

Wooooo Hooooo! Let's Shweeb!

Wooooo Hooooo! Let's Shweeb!

Well, you can thank this week’s blog to my new hobby of “tweeting.”  One of the other professionals that I follow made a “tweet” that led to a way cool website whose idea is worth mentioning.  The future of this “pod in the sky”  is likely “pie in the sky,” but it makes one wonder what the future of transportation could look like.

Pollution, carbon emissions, global warming, traffic congestion, green cars…these are all the industry headlines that plaster the Internet and your favorite trade publications every week.  Well, a group of engineers and designers in New Zealand have created a mode of transportation that eliminates nearly all of the environmental concerns that are under such scrutiny today.  No, it’s not a magic carpet ( how sweet would that be?).  And it’s more primitive and environmentally efficient than SkyTran.  Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce to you…

THE SHWEEB

The world’s first human powered monorail, The Shweeb is “the most efficient vehicle on earth, the most inexpensive infrastructure of any proposed urban transit and one of the highest capacity systems available – potentially delivering thousand’s of people per hour in a very small airspace. All this with zero carbon emissions and no parking worries or cost!”

Six years in the making, entrepreneur and design team leader Geoffrey Barnett finally constructed The Shweeb in 2007 ” in direct response to the transportation needs of today and the future.”   As of today, The Shweeb concept is Shweeb3 nothing more than a ride at an adventure park in New Zealand.  But  Barnett and his team are convinced that The Shweeb is the way of the  future.  This is definitely a very cool concept that on the surface would solve many of  the traffic and congestion and environmental pollution problems that  we face today.  It would also be an emerging engineering concept that possibly would challenge and excite transportation engineers of all types.

Environmentally speaking, this is a great idea, but Clearly Geoffrey and his team have their work cut out for them as they continue to push this concept of a human powered monorail system.  Personally speaking, I am skeptical at best. The “pod” itself that one drives in has little to be desired in the way of comfort and the issues are infinite- what happens if the chain or the pedals break – would Triple A (AAA) show up?  How would one travel with family or clients?  And what about ventilation? Plus, I have no desire to show up for work or a lunch meeting as a soaking wet sweat ball!  We would need Xzibit and the crew from the MTV show Pimp My Ride to develop some nice custom Shweeb vehicles to better suit our needs 🙂 !

Check out The Shweeb in action:

I read on Gizmodo.com, “Well, thank your lucky stars that the people who run our cities have at least some sense in their heads, because it would be highly doubtful for this to appear in the flesh anytime soon.”

Do you believe this engineering concept will ever come to fruition in any way, shape or form as an alternative form of transportation within our urban communities? Or is it merely a pipe dream that will never get beyond the gates of a Six Flags amusement park?

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July 29, 2009 at 4:00 am 8 comments

Water and Air…The “New” Environmental Concerns

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC 
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

The world has accepted the concept of sustainability.  That is: the need to be socially conscious, environmentally sensitive and aware. Go green, green recruiting, green design, green buildings, green initiatives, save green, green living, green products…green, green, green.  We have been saturated but, I hope, NOT desensitized.  Corporations went through branding programs and corporate logos turned green. It is reported that approximately 300,000 green trademarks were filed with the U.S. patent office in 2007.  These are all good things.  The concept of sustainability is sound, based in logic and implemented with reason.

Last year, advertising and trend watching firm JWT predicted that we will see blue replacing green as the color of environmentalism and social consciousness.  They suggest that the  “blue is the new green” concept signals a fundamental shift in the environmental movement.  I am not sure why it is a color shift…other than maybe a marketing technique. Even the Earth Day Network website has “gone blue.”  Are the new environmental concerns focusing on sky and sea –  water and air?  Are these really new concerns? Water and air quality have been in the foreground of civil and environmental engineering  projects for the 20 years I have been involved with our business.  

What do you think? 

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April 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm 4 comments

Outgoing Bush “Midnight” Environmental Legislation

By Carol Metzner, President, The Metzner Group, LLC and Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

Tim Dickinson has written an excellent synopsis for Rolling Stone magazine on President Bush’s final legacy and good-bye gift to us for our future.  The title is somewhat rough for some of you, so I won’t put it here, but I offer to you the link:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/24991066/bushs_final_fu

As it is expected that every outgoing president has implemented 11th hour regulations, “Bush is rolling them out at a record pace — nearly twice as many as Clinton, and five times more than Reagan.”

Here are just a FEW of his final goodbye gifts to all of us (with a few of my thoughts included!)…

Considering that my livelihood depends a great deal on infrastructure development, I read his last minute regulations with interest. “Under a rule submitted in November, federal agencies would no longer be required to have government scientists assess the impact on imperiled species before giving the go-ahead to logging, mining, drilling, highway building or other development.”  I can’t say that I have ever described myself as a live or die environmentalists, but at 47, I find this unsettling at the least! You only need to read my earlier BLOG discussing my obsession with the movie “Soylent Green” to know that this is beyond worrisome!

Typical of the Bush presidency, he has made sure that the  coal industry has no problems depositing their waste from mountaintop mining into streams and valleys.  Additionally, he has lowered air pollution regulations near our national parks, permitted for nearly 2 million acres of lands for the mining of oil shale — “an energy-intensive process that also drains precious water resources” and he has deregulated farming pollution. He has circumvented the Clean Water Act and dismissed EPA leaders dissents. This is just more of his legacy he has solidified for his future grandchildren and yours.

The Rolling Stone article details so many other last minute, little front news regulations, that I am too troubled to even list them all!

All of us will be affected by his decisions.  Involved in our industry, what do you think? Please comment!

January 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm 4 comments

Civil Engineering Saving The Earth

by Carol Metzner, President, The Metzner Group, LLC and Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com

In 1973 a sci-fi movie called “Soylent Green” was released. It was a story about Earth and humanity (or lack of humanity) in the year 2022.  I was about 12 years old and can remember almost every detail of that film.  Quoting from the plot summary (IMDb), in the movie “natural food like fruits, vegetables, and meat among others are now extinct. Earth is overpopulated and New York City has 40 million starving, poverty stricken people. In the year 2022, earth’s face has completely changed. The greenhouse effect has risen the temperature into nearly unbearable regions, and the people are kept in the cities by law.”

So why on a civil engineering blog do I talk about one of the most realistic science fiction movies I have ever seen?  Because in 1973 the idea of global warming was something only that Democratic, young generation even worried about. In 2008, the news, conferences and marches on DC are all discussing the Earth’s peril. In 1973 the concept of overcrowding, loss of precious farm land and national parks, water shortages, natural food shortages were all concepts for the “Soylent Green” Charlton Heston movie ~ not reality! That movie was 35 years ago.  The plot becoming a reality is just around the corner.  As civil engineers, and those of us non engineers interested in the civil engineering world, we can act to help the environmental disaster from occurring. Great civil engineering minds are creatively devising new water treatment plants to deal with pollution and high speed rails to reduce individual automobile traffic.

Can you offer other ways that our community is working to save our planet?

May 6, 2008 at 2:46 pm 10 comments


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