Water Resources in Review: 2018

Posted in: Energy, Water

2018 review on napkinAs we move forward into 2019, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on where the Water Group has been in 2018. Looking back on some of the key water resource stories shared by Mead & Hunt bloggers over the past year, I noticed that many of them fit into four categories: infrastructure funding, dam and levee safety, low impact and “green” development, and stories about overcoming project challenges. This process was enlightening for me—what we allocate time and energy to write about reveals what is important to us as a group. Here are the top stories in each category:

Infrastructure Funding

Infrastructure funding in the Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry actually experienced a very a positive trend in 2018. Congress’s approval of supplemental appropriations for disaster relief and recovery included $17.39 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This funding is significant to the water world because it is largely targeted toward projects that reduce the risk of future damage from floods and storms.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2018 Work Plan was also released in June—over eight months into the fiscal year. Stormwater Funding in California got some good news, with the passage of a new California law that eased funding limitations for stormwater infrastructure. We also reported on the changes to dam license term determinations included in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Finally, we published a piece expounding on the “stone soup approach” to infrastructure funding, which states the importance of successful communication and engagement with partners to achieve project funding.

Dam and Levee Safety

Dam and levee safety continued to be a very hot topic with fallout from the 2017 failure of the Oroville Dam spillway resulting in new regulations and requirements. We wrote about how the Oroville incident improved spillway safety across the nation. Additionally, we wrote about the new dam safety audit requirements, as well as the need for emergency action planning. Finally, we posted story about the importance of dam inspections, and how overlooking small flaws can lead to grave failures.

Low Impact and “Green” Development

Low impact and “green” development is growing increasingly important in the water industry. Many professionals in the Water Group are passionate about this topic, and continually research and develop better ways of delivering sustainable projects. This year we wrote about how green stormwater technologies are outpacing local codes, as well as how mitigation sites provide economic and environmental benefits. We also covered the necessity for natural flood management and the benefits of reusing wastewater in dairy operations.

Overcoming Project Challenges

The Water Group had a number of unique and challenging projects in 2018. These included a low-impact-development retrofit, which implemented many Best Management Practices (BMPs), and the Broken Bow temporary closure structure design, for which we had to mitigate multiple, competing design constraints to deliver the final design. We also talked about creative approaches to effectively use 1D hydraulic modeling when it’s the only option, even when a 2D model would be better suited. Looking back on challenges we have overcome makes us better as a group.

In 2019, our team will continue to focus on delivering sustainable, effective, and cost-efficient solutions for our nation’s infrastructure challenges. As we do, we will continue to write about these projects and trends affecting our industry and our country. Looking back on our experience enables us to identify key trends and patterns as they appear—which allows us to serve our clients and community more effectively.

As always, if you have ideas about what you would like to read, please send an email or give us a call.

Have a great New Year!

Miro Kurka, PE, PMP

About the Author

Miro Kurka, P.E., PMP, knows water is an incredible resource. “I like leading teams and managing water infrastructure projects that make our citizens safer, wealthier and happier.” He is the recipient of the 2019 SAME Individual Industry Government Engagement Award. A retired U.S. Army officer, Miro managed the Corps of Engineers’ program in Tulsa, Portland and Afghanistan for 30 years. He enjoys traveling and meeting people.

Read more posts by Miro Kurka, PE, PMP

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