WORDS: MR. SCOTT LEIMER, P.E.
THE STORMWATER AUTHORITY DIVISION WAS ESTABLISHED TO MITIGATE THE DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF FLOOD & DESTRUCTIVE WATER
Z6 Commissioning recently announced the launch of Stormwater Authority, a new division that offers flood hazard analysis, levee management, and design, disaster recovery, dry floodproofing, wet floodproofing, 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 regionwide 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
STORMWATER ENGINEERING & MANAGEMENT
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 are 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 addresses 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.
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.
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.
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 an 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
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.
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.
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?
The 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.
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.
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.