Ask Our Experts: Stormwater Authority

RCI 33rd International Convention & Trade Show
January 31, 2018
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Ask Our Experts: Stormwater Authority

ASK OUR EXPERTS: STORMWATER AUTHORITY

THE STORMWATER AUTHORITY DIVISION WAS ESTABLISHED TO MITIGATE THE DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF FLOOD & DESTRUCTIVE WATER

Floodwall Testing at UTMB’s Primary Care Pavilion

Z6 Commissioning recently announced the launch of Stormwater Authority, a new division that offers flood hazard analysis, levee management and design, disaster recovery, dry flood proofing, wet flood proofing, as well as geotechnical engineering. Any doubts as to the vital importance of Stormwater Management would quickly evaporate after engaging in a conversation with anyone who experienced the effects of Hurricane Harvey first hand. Z6 Commissioning’s Stormwater Authority Division was established to mitigate the detrimental effects of flood and destructive water levels and surges. From small site-specific projects to county or region wide assessments, Z6 Commissioning is the authority for all aspects of stormwater management.

Scott Leimer, P.E., an accomplished engineer, joins the firm’s new division as Vice President. He will lead the division’s tactical initiatives and help drive growth and develop new business opportunities, leveraging his extensive levee management experience and professional network.

ABOUT SCOTT
Scott is a Registered Professional Engineer with the State of Texas and has over 21 years of experience, serving as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District Levee Program Manager and previously as a Geotechnical Engineer for the Geotech and Structural Engineers Section. Scott led the Levee Safety Program in an area spanning across 50,000 square miles, containing more than 1,000 miles of channels, and serving 28 ports and 700 miles of coastline. Scott’s vast experience has included responsibility for the annual inspections of the seven federal flood control levee systems in Texas and the Galveston Seawall. Prior to his time at the Corp, Scott was an equipment operator for Leimer Brothers Construction where he gained valuable, hands-on experience as a construction contractor, performing duties such as material estimating, scheduling, cost management, site characterization, and general land surveying. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Learn more about the Stormwater Authority Division and the services offered from our Q&A with Scott. Join in on the discussion by contacting Z6 Commissioning at info@z6cxing.com or (409) 740-0090.

STORMWATER ENGINEERING & MANAGEMENT

Floodwall Testing at UTMB’s Primary Care Pavilion

WHAT IS STORMWATER ENGINEERING?
Stormwater Engineering is the evaluation of, planning for, and management of stormwater. This takes on many forms, ranging from single building flood proofing, to city and county drainage systems, to regional levee systems and dams. The planning of a successful stormwater engineering project involves close coordination by the project managers and design engineers with the owners/operators/users of the facility. Proper project scoping and full project implementation is crucial for a successful project.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF STORMWATER MANAGEMENT?
Stormwater management is necessary to provide risk reduction to life safety and property from rainfall or storm surge events. This is both the physical structure that conveys or constrains water along with the communication effort that address the likelihood and consequences of an event. Stormwater management should reduce the likelihood that flooding will occur to an acceptable level and communicate that likelihood to those that would be impacted should a flooding event occur.

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT RELIES ON A SYSTEM OF COMPONENTS FUNCTIONING AS DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTED

WHAT TYPE OF STORMWATER STRUCTURES NEED TO HAVE MAINTENANCE AND CLEANING?
Stormwater management relies on a system of components functioning as designed and constructed. All of the components in the system must be operated and maintained in good working order for the system to perform as it is designed. Operation and maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement, along with total system assessment and reevaluation, should be conducted on a routine basis on all stormwater engineering projects.

LEVEE MANAGEMENT

INSPECTIONS CONDUCTED FOR FLOOD RISK AND LEVEE CONDITION ASSESSMENT.
Levee systems should have continuous inspections and condition assessments performed by the owners/operators. These condition assessments range from visual inspections to evaluate the physical condition of the levee system components, to full geotechnical and structural reevaluation to ensure the initial design and construction was adequate. Pumps, floodgates, drainage structures and other project features should also be reviewed and assessed routinely for operational adequacy.

Floodwall along Sabine Neches Waterway

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A LEVEE TO BE CERTIFIED?
Levee certification is when an engineer or Federal agency completes an evaluation of the levee system and signs a statement stating that the levee complies with the applicable Federal requirements for design, construction, and operation and maintenance.

HOW DOES LEVEE CERTIFICATION DIFFER FROM LEVEE ACCREDITATION?
Levee certification is provided to FEMA by an outside party, whereas levee accreditation is action that FEMA takes so the community living behind the levee system has National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) benefits.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH LEVEES?
All levee systems have some risk associated with them. These risks can include potential overtopping, levee or floodwall failure, or excessive rainfall that exceeds the interior drainage capacity. Ultimately, levee systems are man-made structures that have design limitations. It is important to understand these limits so we can provide the necessary information to allow those who live within the levee system to develop a plan of action in the event those limits are exceeded to protect their community and property.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BUILDING AND MAINTAINING LEVEES?
Levee design, construction, operations, and maintenance is not solely controlled by one entity; responsibility and ownership can vary from Federal, State, local or regional authority to private entities.

GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING

WHAT IS GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING?
Geotechnical engineering, for this discussion, is the study and evaluation of the surface and subsurface material for the design and construction of a structure. The structure could range from a building, to a roadway, to a flood damage risk reduction feature, to a ship dock. The geotechnical engineer, through coordination with the project team, develops a soil investigation plan that defines the foundation requirements for the proposed structure.

Matagorda Levee

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL GEOTECHNICAL SITE INSPECTION ENTAIL?
Geotechnical site inspections are conducted for a variety of reasons and the scope depends on the proposed project and the information that is needed. A site inspection for new construction would focus on defining any potential foundation issues and developing a plan for future subsurface investigations. An existing facility site investigation would focus on addressing any known issues and assessing the need and scope of any additional subsurface investigations.

THE GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER, THROUGH COORDINATION WITH THE PROJECT TEAM, DEVELOPS A SOIL INVESTIGATION PLAN THAT DEFINES THE FOUNDATION REQUIREMENTS

HOW IS A GEOTECHNICAL INVESTIGATION CARRIED OUT?
Geotechnical investigations are carried out by utilizing a drill rig or other soil sampling methods to identify existing conditions and obtain samples around a site. The soil sample is then tested in a laboratory to define and develop the physical and engineering properties of the soil for use by the design engineer. The generated data helps the engineer to understand the materials and properties that can influence the project requirements and determine the risks that may be created by existing site conditions.

WHAT LOCATIONS ARE MOST VULNERABLE IN THE TEXAS GULF COAST REGION?
Soil varies throughout a region due to the process in which it was deposited over the last tens of thousands of years; the main areas of concern tend to be in proximity to meandering streams, rivers and coastal estuaries. These areas have more recent soil deposits that can create design and construction challenges.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A GEOTECHNICAL REPORT?
The geotechnical report usually documents the subsurface soil profile, along with certain soil parameters and, if requested, foundation design recommendations. This allows the design engineer to properly characterize the subsurface soil conditions at the site, which is essential to having a successful project. Proper site characterization allows the design engineer to develop the most efficient foundation design, which will likely reduce project cost and construction time.

Flap Gates on Interior Drainage Structure

WHAT SHOULD A GEOTECHNICAL REPORT FOR COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT CONTAIN?
The information contained in the geotechnical report must be sufficient to ensure the successful construction and long term utilization of the development. Coordination of the scope of the geotechnical investigation with the designer of the development is a critical step in the overall execution of the project.

DISASTER RECOVERY

WHAT IS DISASTER RECOVERY?
Disaster recovery is a multi-step process that allows for the mitigation and recovery from damages due to a natural or manmade disaster.

WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF A DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN?
Disaster recovery plans are extremely valuable to the owner and user of any facility. The disaster recovery plan allows concise action to be taken that can prevent, minimize, or reduce damages from occurring after a disaster.