Posts filed under ‘Environmental 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?

Carol new profile

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

Demand For Engineers Increases: Infrastructure Asset Management & Sustainability

Engineers that understand infrastructure asset management are in demand within the US engineering marketplace. Infrastructure asset management specifically focuses on the need to sustain structures such as highways, bridges, water treatment facilities, electric utility and transmission lines in addition to many others. Mounting pressures to cut public spending, has much needed maintenance and rehabilitation put on hold. Meanwhile, US infrastructure continues to decay. The planning, design, construction, operations, maintenance, upgrading, and rehabilitation of infrastructure has become split among the private sector and public agencies .

What has become clear is the need for talented engineering managers that understand the delicate balance between planning, design, operation, maintenance and sustainability of infrastructure. My clients, architecture and consulting civil engineering firms, have multiple year initiatives for expanding consulting divisions that focus only on asset management. Whether it be underground tunneling for large diameter pipes, water/waste-water systems or transportation systems- the market and the money are HOT.

Consulting A/E firms seek to expand their ability to offer their clients asset management action plans that create an effective and practical business framework for transportation, stormwater, water and sanitary assets. One firm states the importance in providing agencies/municipalities a “comprehensive approach that creates a sustainable program to help achieve performance goals, minimize costs and meet stakeholder demands.” These asset management plans vary from firm to firm and may include but not be limited to: strategy and service level development; business planning; infrastructure assessment and planning; financial and capital planning; technology strategy implementation; operational excellence; computerized maintenance management systems.

Engineers with comprehensive business experience and practices will find a variety of opportunities open to them over the next year. This may reactivate the MBA vs. MSCE discussion. What do you think?

Carol Metzner
President, The MetznerGroup
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

September 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm 3 comments

Sustainable Highways, Transportation & GREENROADS?

The CivilEngineeringCentral.com blogs have often discussed the need for sustainable transportation in the US. Whether we discussed transit, high speed rail, the SCHWEEB or SkyTran, we are fascinated with the concept of finding a way to be better to our planet while getting where we need to go when we want to get there. One thing is for sure, the majority of us will not give up our cars and highways will always be needed.

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) has developed the Sustainable Highways Self-Evaluation Tool, INVEST (Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool), version 1. INVEST was built using the FHWA concept of sustainability. FHWA describes how sustainability in highways:

A sustainable highway should be planned or replaced, financed, designed, constructed, inspected, operated and maintained in a way that provides sustainable benefits related to three principles: Social, Environmental, and Economic. 

 with the understanding that highways are one part of transportation infrastructure, and transportation is one aspect of meeting human needs. In addition to addressing environmental and natural resource needs, the development of a sustainable highway should focus on access (not just mobility), moving people and goods (not just vehicles), and providing people with transportation choices, such as safe and comfortable routes for walking, cycling, and transit.

Sustainable transportation may be described or defined in many ways that broadly address environmental, social and economic impacts, safety, affordability, and accessibility of transportation services. Transportation agencies address sustainability through a wide range of initiatives, such as ITS, livability, smart growth, recycling, planning and environment linkages…Transportation planning processes that incorporate these values and integrate the elements of sustainability should be the foundation from which to implement sustainability decisions as a project moves forward. Measures of project success include a wide range of indicators, such as travel performance, gains achieved through material selection, and construction methods.

Are you familiar with GREENROADS and the GREENROADS rating system? Do you think it is worthwhile to worry about sustainability  with our highways and “promote environmental stewardship, accountability and integrity”  or is this just another “roadblock” to development?

 By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

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August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

Sustainability in Civil Engineering – Part 2


By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

In 2008, we posted a brief BLOG titled “Sustainability in Civil Engineering.” Now, 3 years later, I asked several civil engineering leaders to discuss this topic. For example: Do clients request or require sustainable design? Is there a difference in cost on sustainable design projects? What else do you think about this topic?  Here are their thoughts:

Mark Gabriel, Senior Vice President Strategy and Business Process, Black & Veatch

“Regarding sustainability, it is really about the efficient use of resources and has morphed into the realization of the triple bottom line. From an energy perspective all facets of construction (or deferral of construction) are now taken into account. For example, water use is a huge issue. In our 2011 Strategic Directions of the Utility Industry survey, water was the number one environmental issue by the 700 respondents. The challenge is that there is a cost to sustainable options that needs to be borne by someone–either the public or the shareholders. And, therein lies the challenge.

Sustainability in many ways is being “cooked” into the fabric of construction decisions as opposed to simply being another factor “sprinkled in” at the last minute to get a project constructed.”

Richard Diaz, PE, President, Diaz Pearson & Associates, Inc.

“In some respects, today’s Sustainability is a revival of the conservation movement back in the 1970’s. It still can be thought of as the wise use of our resources, the consciousness of designing infrastructure for the long term, and awareness that short term replacement and reconstruction are not realistic options. I think many would agree that there is more awareness today in our dwindling resources, many of which are precious.

Sustainable Development is more than just water cooler talk. For Civil Engineers, it’s also more than the ‘green theme’ architectural flavor of the day. Civil engineers have traditionally been concerned about sustainable design; as far back as I can remember. Life cycle cost and the creation of long term value have been civil engineering issues for a long time, not just current topics. Clearly there’s an appreciation for civil engineering’s ‘sustainability’ value that went into the Hoover Dam, Brooklyn Bridge and so many other notable landmarks still operating today.

Sustainability in design is critical, if nothing more, than to craft meaningful solutions to our infrastructure needs in competition with limited financial resources. Sadly, so much of our nation’s infrastructure has been overlooked and is in need of replacement. Arguably, one might believe that because of civil engineering’s core sustainability value, our nation’s infrastructure has been able to enjoy little maintenance attention. That’s no longer the case. We’re at the critical point in meeting our expected service needs for energy, transportation, water supply, and wastewater treatment.

Everywhere one looks there are social, educational, and medical issues competing for financial support. More than ever, sustainability in civil engineering design must be the central theme for creative solutions that match limited financial resources. I believe civil engineering’s core sustainability value will continue to provide reasonable solutions without compromise for the future. Perhaps more than ever this is an exciting and challenging time for civil engineering leadership!”

Jeanne Acutanza, PE,  CH2M HILL and http://www.greengrowthcc.com

“Infrastructure clients, generally public agencies, are not only interested in sustainability to preserve natural environments and reduce energy use, but increasingly to save money.  Measuring sustainability in infrastructure (like LEED certifications for buildings) is becoming necessary to compare and prioritize projects for funding as well as to optimize project efficiency.  CH2M HILL pioneered one rating system with the University of Washington called the Greenroads rating system http://www.greenroads.org/.  This tool is being used by funding agencies to help agencies enhance and optimize sustainability on their project grant submittals.  CH2M HILL is leading a team to develop a rating tool for FHWA.  The tool http://www.sustainablehighways.org/ builds on context sensitive solutions principles to evaluate highway projects.  The tool is in its pilot testing phase.  FHWA is seeking feedback from agencies using the tool.”

Confidential

“The concept of sustainability is just beginning to get traction at least in the US public sector. We are starting to see some RFP’s that discuss or request sustainable design. However, clients are also being cautious in implementation. Will sustainable concepts increase costs? If yes, how much? Do sustainable designs add value to the project? If yes, can we demonstrate the benefits added. In the global marketplace, sustainability is more frequently cited in solicitations.”

As we continue to pursue resource conservation, what changes are you seeing from your clients and within your projects? Thoughts?

October 20, 2011 at 7:38 am 3 comments

Green Engineering Jobs: Coming to an Ocean Near You?

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

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

Picture this: the sun, beach, sand, waves, porpoises ….wind turbines?

File photo: offshore windmills

A variety of wind farms are being proposed, designed and constructed across the US. Cape Wind proposes the first offshore wind farm on Nantucket Sound, “… Miles from the nearest shore, 130 wind turbines will gracefully harness the wind to produce up to 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.  In average winds, Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands electricity needs. Maryland’s  Governor proposed a plan to build offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean (Maryland lawmakers today refused to pass the plan this year). His was a $1.5 billion field of giant turbines about 10 miles off of the Ocean City, Maryland shoreline, while the eastern edge is approximately 27 miles from the coast.  And in Delaware, NRG Bluewater Wind has won the exclusive right to negotiate with the federal government to build an offshore wind farm.

Will these “green” initiatives bring green engineering jobs? Bluewater Wind officials estimated in 2008 that the project would bring 400-500 construction jobs to the state, as well as at least 80 ongoing operations and maintenance jobs. A Port of Wilmington official estimated last year that building a regional turbine assembly facility there could result in about 770 jobs during construction, and another 750 operational jobs.” The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported in 2010 that the wind energy sector that employs 18,500 staff in the manufacturing sector could “support tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components if the right policies are put in place.”

Civil engineers will be needed for a variety of roles within this “green” engineering market. For example, the wind farm infrastructure consists of roads and drainage, wind turbine, met mast foundations and buildings housing electrical switch gear, planning, modeling, preliminary design, QA/QC and construction of wind farm infrastructure  for sites and utilities for access roads, crane pads, crane paths…

Many of us will be interested in reviewing the results of states and P3 proposals. Will other states step up and add these green engineering jobs or, like Maryland, will legislators blow the turbine proposals out of the water?  🙂

 

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April 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm 1 comment

Are You High On Speed…Rail?


 Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com

View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

It’s been quite some time since I have touched on this subject, so at the risk of “beating a dead horse,” here I go again!

Have you ever known anyone who has traveled via high-speed rail?  Have you actually experienced High Speed Rail yourself?  At the very least you have recently read about it or heard about it on the news.  I have never personally experienced it myself, but I’ve read enough about it  and viewed enough videos to know that I am very excited about what the future holds.  I have also spoken to folks who have actually traveled on High Speed Rail and the reviews were glowing!

Imagine blowing up a balloon; you’ve populated the balloon with enough air that is appears to be at full capacity, but maybe you want it a little bit bigger, so you put two more breaths into it.  It’s good.  It hasn’t popped, so you put two more breaths in.  It’s now stretched pretty thin, but maybe the kids are chanting, “Bigger! Bigger! Bigger!”   You push your luck one more time and in the middle of your next breath….POP!  As I write, our highways and airspace are pretty much maxed out when it comes to capacity, and as our population grows and our economy inches its way back into growth mode the constraints will be even heavier.  In fact,  on Monday CNN reported the following from the FAA:

Air travel in the United States is expected to more than double in the next 20 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual forecast released on Tuesday.

It also predicts U.S. airlines will carry 1 billion passengers a year by 2021, a milestone that will come two years earlier than previously thought. (To put that number into perspective, about 712 million passengers flew on domestic carriers in 2010.)

 

If we fail to truly embrace High Speed Rail our infrastructure will share the same results as the balloon.

Last week Joe Biden announced a comprehensive plan that would allow for 80% of our hard-working population to have access to High Speed Rail by 2035 and has committed to $53 billion over six years.   Check out what the US High Speed Rail Association’s vision of what a national High Speed Rail system would look like:

The build out of High Speed Rail lines is a lengthy process; the environmental planning and reports, the public meetings, more reports, more meetings,  and one of the most, if not THE most sophisticated engineering and construction processes in the world requires much patience.  Of course the longer the discussion gets hung up in DC the even longer this will take.  As the United States continues to talk about High Speed Rail, the other countries on our globe continue to stay one step ahead of us.  I personally am not concerned about competing with other countries because at the end of the day I think the US rocks!    But all this talk over the years surrounding High Speed Rail, and the limited action is getting old – the advantages of High Speed Rail, as you and I both know, are enormous:

*Job creation

*Increased opportunities for employment due to easy access between cities

*A reduction in carbon emissions

*A national HSR system could reduce oil consumption by 125 bbl / year (according to Environment America)

*Reduce the stress already on existing, over-capacity infrastructure

*Ability to text message and check Facebook on phone without having to lookup for oncoming traffic 🙂

Look, the list goes on and on as to the advantages, no doubt.  A couple of years ago I wondered if people would really be able to give up their connections to their cars  on a daily basis.  The convenience they provide; the status they may show, etc.  But I think with all the studies that have been compiled, and the horrible recession that we have recently passed through, that particular mentality has passed its prime.   The development of true High Speed Rail has begun in FL and CA and significant investments have already been made in those regions.  May the rest of our country follow in their footsteps…let’s get this show on the road, or  shall I say, on the rail!

So, are you high on speed…rail?  I know I am and I would love to hear your thoughts – especially from anyone who may be against this type of innovation in our country…

Thanks for reading!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm 32 comments

Digital Cable But No Clean Water?

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

Perhaps you may have read last Sunday’s New York Times lead article by Charles Duhigg: Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering. For those who did not, the article focused on the human anguish that results from pollutants in our waters.  The abuse is caused by direct violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Keep in mind, the article did not focus on third world countries, but here in the US.  Senior Banking Accountant, West Virginia resident Jennifer Hall-Massey’s family is profiled:

“Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

‘How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?’ said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.”

toxic-waters

Ryan Massey, 7, shows his caps. Dentists near Charleston, W.Va., say pollutants in drinking water have damaged residents’ teeth. Nationwide, polluters have violated the Clean Water Act more than 500,000 times. Photo taken by Damon Winter of the New York Times.

The article continues to disclose violation records obtained from not only the EPA but from State records. A multitude of violations were compiled into a fascinating and frightening national water pollution database. I encourage you to visit the database link, put in your zip code and hold on to your seats!

The blatant lack of fines or punishment to violators is unconscionable.  This past January I wrote a BLOG about outgoing President Bush’s midnight environmental legislation. Specifically stated, President Bush made sure that the coal industry had no problems depositing their waste from mountaintop mining into streams and valleys. Also, he circumvented the Clean Water Act and dismissed EPA leaders dissents. While it would be almost too easy to blame his administration and outgoing policies for today’s environmental misery, the New York Times article clearly distributes the blame to state agencies as well. Federal and State agencies need to step up.

As Duhigg writes: research shows that an estimated 1 in 10 Americans have been exposed to drinking water that contains dangerous chemicals or fails to meet a federal health benchmark in other ways.

Someone needs to be held accountable. Remember this next time you take a drink of water.

What do you think?

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September 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm 7 comments

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

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