About the Author

 

David C. Richardson

Articles by David C. Richardson

Managing Trash and Contaminants With Screens and Storage

| Every year, Heal the Bay, a nonprofit advocating for coastal water quality in the Los Angeles region, lists all the beaches in Los Angeles County and grades them based on visual experiences, the quality of the water, the quality of the beach, and its cleanliness. Each year the annual report lists some of those beaches on its Beach Bummer List—a compendium of the dirtiest, least desirable, and most inhospitable attractions on the Los Angeles coastline. For several years, the beach surrounding Santa Monica Pier, a recreational attraction that hosts over 6 million visitors every year, has had the dubious distinction of holding a prominent position on that list. “Many factors contribute to that,” says Selim Eren, an engineer with the city of Santa Monica. “Having restaurants on the pier and having an open timber structure and a dark and moist environment under the pier doesn’t help, overall, the situation there.” ... READ MORE

Capturing Funds for Stormwater Management

| Residents of Toledo, OH, have always seen water as a very important asset, says Patekka Bannister, commissioner of plant operations and chief of water resources for the Toledo Department of Public Utilities. There is water everywhere you look in Toledo, she says. “In terms of trade, a lot of the economy is based on water. When you go downtown you see the river running through, drive a little bit further you see Lake Erie. In your backyard there is some kind of a ditch or a creek, so we have that connection.” As part a downstream community on the Maumee River in the Great Lakes Watershed, residents see the value of water. ... READ MORE

Clearing the Way

| “In California, in the Bay area, treatment is everything,” says Kelly Rogers, general superintendent of offsite development for Robson Homes. “We’re a company building single-family homes within the city limits of very large cities in the Bay area.” The firm’s projects are often referred to as infill development. In many instances, Robson Homes projects begin with demolition of older structures for replacement with modern home sites; however, on occasion the company breaks new ground, converting sites from agricultural uses or from an undeveloped condition to a residential neighborhood. ... READ MORE

The Many Faces of Permeable Pavers

| The world of permeable pavers is multifaceted. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be placed in a wide range of configurations to match tastes, function, or budgets. They can play a central role in meeting a wide variety of water-quality improvement goals. Projects employing permeable pavers are as varied as the capabilities of the technology, ranging from roadways to schoolyards to footpaths or platforms. While engineers rely on them to perform two central functions—supporting whatever traffic they are expected to bear and allowing water to infiltrate beneath the surface—they can do much more. Whatever the duty permeable pavers are called upon to perform, they can take it on with grace and style. ... READ MORE

Pennies From Heaven

| Residents of Toledo, OH, have always seen water as a very important asset, says Patekka Bannister, commissioner of plant operations and chief of water resources for the Toledo Department of Public Utilities. There is water everywhere you look in Toledo, she says. “In terms of trade, a lot of the economy is based on water. When you go downtown you see the river running through, drive a little bit further you see Lake Erie. In your backyard there is some kind of a ditch or a creek, so we have that connection.” As part a downstream community on the Maumee River in the Great Lakes Watershed, residents see the value of water. ... READ MORE

Seeding for Progress and Restoration

| The Palouse region of eastern Washington is known as one of the most fertile expanses of land in the world, with rich topsoil plunging to a depth of 100 feet or more. As Kurt Merg, vegetation ecologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, explains, it is one of the best wheat growing regions on the planet. He notes that the abundance of soil resulted from Pleistocene winds, which carried fine particulates north and east into what is now eastern Washington from what is now Oregon, eventually accumulating in dune-like hills. Precipitation arrives on these hills mostly in winter, with annual totals approximately doubling (14 to 30 inches) from the western to eastern margins of the region, respectively. Much of this water is captured in the deep Palouse soils. Less than 1% of Palouse Prairie remains, making it one of the most imperiled habitats on Earth. Most of the Palouse is now devoted to cultivation of row crops, especially wheat. ... READ MORE

Erosion Control Devices

| No one knows when it happened: some would say perhaps it made no sound, or maybe no one was listening, but something changed in the watershed upstream of several properties in a Noblesville, IN, subdivision. Suddenly, the slope of a streambank in a neighborhood backyard began wasting away. ... READ MORE

Slope Whisperers

| Cambridge, MA, maintains a series of three terminal reservoirs for drinking water. Fresh Pond has been one of the most prominent reservoirs in the city’s fleet of water sources and a favorite with the community, not just as a source of water, but also because of its role as a place of passive recreation. Surrounded by a golf course and playing fields, the grounds of the Fresh Pond Reservation are also canine friendly. It’s one of the few places where dog owners are permitted to let their pets cut loose and run wild and free off leash. The area is a reservation, rather than a city-owned park, and residents have been going there seeking refuge from the densely populated urban scene for generations. ... READ MORE

The Many Faces of Permeable Pavers

| The world of permeable pavers is multifaceted. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be placed in a wide range of configurations to match tastes, function, or budgets. They can play a central role in meeting a wide variety of water-quality improvement goals. Projects employing permeable pavers are as varied as the capabilities of the technology, ranging from roadways to schoolyards to footpaths or platforms. While engineers rely on them to perform two central functions—supporting whatever traffic they are expected to bear and allowing water to infiltrate beneath the surface—they can do much more. Whatever the duty permeable pavers are called upon to perform, they can take it on with grace and style. ... READ MORE

Stormwater Monitoring

| The most dramatic and identifying characteristic of water is that it is always moving. Even so-called standing water is never completely static; it’s either being drawn by gravity to seep down into the earth or being agitated by warmth at the surface to rise into the air as a vapor. Water finds its way into every space available and into plants and animals, which help it move about across the land, sea, and into the air. It finds its way into the full gamut of human activities as well, sluicing off in various directions, carrying a complement of whatever impurities or enhancements might have been imparted by the people who used it. The complex cycle circulates from the clouds to the sea and back again in a never-ending circle. Along the way, various obstacles, impediments, and conveyances influence its movement and each, in its own way, can have a considerable effect on water quality. Understanding the dynamics of water as it moves across surfaces impacted by commerce, industry, and habitation becomes a powerful and necessary step in managing these effects. ... READ MORE

The Many Faces of Permeable Pavers

| The world of permeable pavers is multifaceted. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be placed in a wide range of configurations to match tastes, function, or budgets. They can play a central role in meeting a wide variety of water-quality improvement goals. Projects employing permeable pavers are as varied as the capabilities of the technology, ranging from roadways to schoolyards to footpaths or platforms. While engineers rely on them to perform two central functions—supporting whatever traffic they are expected to bear and allowing water to infiltrate beneath the surface—they can do much more. Whatever the duty permeable pavers are called upon to perform, they can take it on with grace and style. ... READ MORE

Battling Invasive Species

| When William Shakespeare introduced the starling into his play Henry IV more than 400 years ago, he recognized the bird’s moderately annoying qualities by imagining it tormenting its host with the repetition of a single utterance—over and over and over. However, he certainly could have had no concept that his words would trigger the ­dramatic invasion of an entire ­continent centuries later, much to the annoyance of a much broader population. Drawing inspiration from the voluminous works of his idol, Eugene Schieffelin—a history buff, Zoological Society member, and member of the American Acclimatization Society—sauntered into Central Park in New York City one day in 1890 to release several dozen European starlings into the sooty skies in an attempt to fulfill his dream that North America, for good or for ill, would have all of the birds mentioned in the great playwright’s works. ... READ MORE

Making Every Drop Count

| The most dramatic and identifying characteristic of water is that it is always moving. Even so-called standing water is never completely static; it’s either being drawn by gravity to seep down into the earth or being agitated by warmth at the surface to rise into the air as a vapor. Water finds its way into every space available and into plants and animals, which help it move about across the land, sea, and into the air. It finds its way into the full gamut of human activities as well, sluicing off in various directions, carrying a complement of whatever impurities or enhancements might have been imparted by the people who used it. The complex cycle circulates from the clouds to the sea and back again in a never-ending circle. Along the way, various obstacles, impediments, and conveyances influence its movement and each, in its own way, can have a considerable effect on water quality. Understanding the dynamics of water as it moves across surfaces impacted by commerce, industry, and habitation becomes a powerful and necessary step in managing these effects. ... READ MORE

A Little Off the Top and Sides

| Anyone who does much cross-country driving can appreciate how verdant hillsides and varied terrain can add a bit of spice to the journey. But aside from providing a convenient passage between Savannah, GA, and neighboring communities, the highway stretch known as I-516 had come to be known for two things: its monotony and its many outcroppings of dense stands of trees. ... READ MORE

Breaking Down the Walls

| The Roman Empire was known for many remarkable engineering achievements, including roads that straddled continents and aqueducts capable of conveying life-sustaining water into ever-growing cities at the heart of the empire. Researchers tracing the history of Roman influence in Great Britain, however, long wondered how one critical, remote outpost in the northern part of the country could have maintained itself and persisted for decades without a source of water. ... READ MORE

Water Quality Monitoring on Farms, Reserves, and Urban Creeks

| It has often been said that without water there would be no life. However, the presence of water is only one factor in the equation. It is not water alone that guarantees the presence of life; to sustain life the condition of that water must fall within a very specific range. Although life can be resilient—in the sense that for virtually any condition that can be imagined, some type of organism will thrive there—many forms of life are very sensitive, occupying one particular, narrowly bounded niche. Many of the specific organisms upon which society relies as part of the food chain or to sustain the habitability of the planet have a particularly narrow and specialized range of conditions under which they can thrive and propagate. Minor changes in salinity or temperature, for example, can drive fish like trout or salmon from a stream. And human activity can play a dramatic role in affecting these conditions. ... READ MORE

Seeding for Progress and Restoration

| The Palouse region of eastern Washington is known as one of the most fertile expanses of land in the world, with rich topsoil plunging to a depth of 100 feet or more. As Kurt Merg, vegetation ecologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, explains, it is one of the best wheat growing regions on the planet. He notes that the abundance of soil resulted from Pleistocene winds, which carried fine particulates north and east into what is now eastern Washington from what is now Oregon, eventually accumulating in dune-like hills. Precipitation arrives on these hills mostly in winter, with annual totals approximately doubling (14 to 30 inches) from the western to eastern margins of the region, respectively. Much of this water is captured in the deep Palouse soils. Less than 1% of Palouse Prairie remains, making it one of the most imperiled habitats on Earth. Most of the Palouse is now devoted to cultivation of row crops, especially wheat. ... READ MORE

Meters, Metrics, and People Power

| A long row of gently aging tin cabins lines the wooded shore of Douglas Lake in Munro Township on the northern tip of Michigan. First built in 1908, the cabins, rustic and durable on the exterior, undergo interior makeovers on a regular basis to keep pace with the ever-changing tastes and requirements of university undergraduates and researchers. As part of the campus of the University of Michigan Biological Station, the 100 modest cabins may soon represent the birthplace of a new generation of stormwater expertise. At the same time, instructors seeking innovative approaches to teaching hope to bring as much enthusiasm and practicality to the students’ learning experience as the young scholars bring to energize campus life. ... READ MORE

Rolling Back Erosion With Tubes, Logs, and Socks

| No one knows when it happened: some would say perhaps it made no sound, or maybe no one was listening, but something changed in the watershed upstream of several properties in a Noblesville, IN, subdivision. Suddenly, the slope of a streambank in a neighborhood backyard began wasting away. ... READ MORE

Stabilizing Hillsides and Creek Bottoms

| The rolling landscape of Scott County, MN, is rural but not particularly remote. "That area is farm country, and the Minnesota River goes through the entire area. On the top of the bluffs it's farmland, but at the river, the elevation drops about 200 feet in 800 feet," says Paul Nelson, environmental services program manager for Scott County. The scene is typical for the Minnesota River Valley; as the river winds through the 30-square-mile Blakeley Township, he says, "Parts of it are up on old glacial deposits, and some of it in ravines where glacial rivers cut through drop 200 to 300 feet in a mile or less. There are lots of eroding ravines." ... READ MORE

The Twin Cities Versus the Invaders from Planet Earth

| When William Shakespeare introduced the starling into his play Henry IV more than 400 years ago, he recognized the bird’s moderately annoying qualities by imagining it tormenting its host with the repetition of a single utterance—over and over and over. However, he certainly could have had no concept that his words would trigger the ­dramatic invasion of an entire ­continent centuries later, much to the annoyance of a much broader population. Drawing inspiration from the voluminous works of his idol, Eugene Schieffelin—a history buff, Zoological Society member, and member of the American Acclimatization Society—sauntered into Central Park in New York City one day in 1890 to release several dozen European starlings into the sooty skies in an attempt to fulfill his dream that North America, for good or for ill, would have all of the birds mentioned in the great playwright’s works. ... READ MORE

Seeding Restoration Sites With Tackifiers, Mulch, and More

| An infamous coal seam fire that had been smoldering for 100 years burst out violently in 2002 to devour the arid Colorado landscape. An inferno dating back, perhaps, to a mine explosion in 1896 that killed 49 miners, the fire that erupted to the surface and tore toward Glenwood Springs claimed 12,000 acres and 29 ... READ MORE

Reducing Coastal Erosion

| There is a saying that the only thing constant in life is change. In the realm of coastal environments, nothing could be more true. The shifting winds, the tides, and rains are what has created the often beautiful vistas of coastal landscape, the diversity of habitats and ecosystems: stones ground into pebbles by the shifting surf, pebbles into sand and even finer granules, and those constituents, after chemical changes and biological transformations, subsequently broken down into their essence as minerals and nutrients, consumed and reassembled to sustain the life forms that make their homes along the shore and out to sea. ... READ MORE

Permeable Surfaces

| The vast expanses of impermeable asphalt surfaces blanketing the country and crisscrossing every urban center and thoroughfare from the east to west add up to a total of 4.12 million miles—enough to circle the Earth's equator 157 times over. While it might be easy to take impermeable pavement for granted as the historical norm for load-bearing surfaces from roadways to parking lots and storage depots, impervious pavement has recent origins and we are only recently becoming aware of its full costs. ... READ MORE

Monitoring for Water Quality on Farms, Reserves, and Urban Creeks

| It has often been said that without water there would be no life. However, the presence of water is only one factor in the equation. It is not water alone that guarantees the presence of life; to sustain life the condition of that water must fall within a very specific range. Although life can be resilient—in the sense that for virtually any condition that can be imagined, some type of organism will thrive there—many forms of life are very sensitive, occupying one particular, narrowly bounded niche. Many of the specific organisms upon which society relies as part of the food chain or to sustain the habitability of the planet have a particularly narrow and specialized range of conditions under which they can thrive and propagate. Minor changes in salinity or temperature, for example, can drive fish like trout or salmon from a stream. And human activity can play a dramatic role in affecting these conditions. ... READ MORE

The Way to a Swimmable Harbor

| Nearly every workday for 20 years, John Kellett parked his car along Pratt Street and walked across the downtown pedestrian bridge over the Jones Falls River toward his office aboard a vintage Coast Guard vessel. The USCGC Taney, permanently moored at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, was the headquarters of the Baltimore Maritime Museum, and Kellett was its director. From there he often contemplated the turnaround Baltimore's Inner Harbor had experienced over recent decades and what he could do to make it better. ... READ MORE

Computer Simulations for Stormwater Management and Design

| Computer simulations for stormwater management and design make it possible to try out new ideas without the risk of disrupting communities or ecosystems, to evaluate how a watershed would respond to acts of nature or engineering. Jeff Shiner believes computer modeling gives engineers and decision makers a set of powerful tools to make better decisions for the wellbeing of the community and the health of the watershed. They also make it possible to envision nature’s potential for good or for ill, and to be ready before extraordinary events occur. ... READ MORE

A New Roadmap to Reduce Coastal Risk

| There is a saying that the only thing constant in life is change. In the realm of coastal environments, nothing could be more true. The shifting winds, the tides, and rains are what has created the often beautiful vistas of coastal landscape, the diversity of habitats and ecosystems: stones ground into pebbles by the shifting surf, pebbles into sand and even finer granules, and those constituents, after chemical changes and biological transformations, subsequently broken down into their essence as minerals and nutrients, consumed and reassembled to sustain the life forms that make their homes along the shore and out to sea. ... READ MORE

Avoiding Power Interruptions at Data Centers

| Kyle Ellenberger of Power Systems & Controls has seen big changes in the data center industry since the earliest few data centers were launched in the United States. “The first data centers were crazy—they had soldiers guarding them and barbed wire. No, you can’t roll up in a tank and steal data,” he says. But ... READ MORE

Transforming Landfills Into Resources

| A landfill can be like a baby: It is helpless to care for itself; while it’s growing, it eats all day; at night when resting, it must be protected from the elements; and it belches constantly. If you’re lucky, it won’t stir up much fuss. If you’re not lucky, the neighbors can become quite annoyed. Landfills ... READ MORE

Transforming Landfills Into Resources

| A landfill can be like a baby: It is helpless to care for itself; while it’s growing, it eats all day; at night when resting, it must be protected from the elements; and it belches constantly. If you’re lucky, it won’t stir up much fuss. If you’re not lucky, the neighbors can become quite annoyed. Landfills ... READ MORE

On the Ground and Underground

| A lot of good things have been said about Frank R. Bowerman Landfill in Orange County, CA. It has recently powered up a major methane-to-electrical generation station to capture and reuse landfill gasses that some waste operations would be content just to burn off as waste. According to Robert Sjoquist, president of Soils Solutions Inc., the landfill also has a "very aggressive recycling operation." He says the facility welcomes almost every kind of waste. ... READ MORE

Where Old Snow Goes to Melt

| A fresh snowpack can bring a feeling of natural beauty to even the most densely developed, highly urbanized area. For many towns and cities, when that snow piles on several inches deep, a series of policy changes go into effect. Schoolkids cheer to have the day off; some workers might experience mixed feelings about their career status at being designated non-essential personnel and being given the day off to help reduce the risks of incidents on the roads. Motorists unwary enough to have parked and left their vehicles on emergency snow routes can look forward to a level of anxiety rarely experienced by law abiding citizens when they contemplate retrieving their cars after they've been towed to the impoundment lot. Road clearing crews gear up and hit the streets, laying down road salt, sand, and various chemical deicers. ... READ MORE

Helping the Fish to Cross the Road

| In recent years, efforts to restore fish habitat in the US have gained momentum. It has been recognized that barriers to fish passage have suppressed populations of salmonid fish species such as coho, Chinook, steelhead, and others. These fish are important for many reasons. According to the Wild Salmon Center (WSC), at least 137 different ... READ MORE

One Small Step for Bugs

| Like the inhabitants of the tragically fated Roman city of Pompeii, which fell victim to fallout from the Vesuvius volcano, benthic macroinvertebrate organisms in long-established communities along the river bottom received no warning of the oncoming catastrophe. They, like their human counterparts separated by millennia (and phylum), may have seen a few dark clouds but had no means of escape. It is likely the sudden disturbance killed many resident benthic organisms outright; others were probably washed away into a downstream lake known as the Mill Pond, which itself became mired with sediment. A large fish kill erupted in the blackened water, with fish showing signs of “abraded and plugged gills. . . . Mussel and macroinvertebrate colonies were rapidly buried under the silt and sand.” ... READ MORE

The Business Case for Sustainable Energy Systems

| When Bob Bechtold started along the path toward smart building a couple of decades ago, the term had yet to gain widespread popularity. Exploring his passion for renewable energy during the 1980s, he installed his first wind turbine and geothermal heating system, at his home. Later, he began to think that he could make the same kind ... READ MORE

If It Quacks Like a Duck, It Could Someday Be a Wetland

| On a sultry afternoon in mid-July, two bodies of water, entwined by nature but separated by man, became reacquainted for the first time in nearly 100 years. The estrangement had been quite stressful for both, but expedience had dictated that third-party interests—those of agriculture, commerce, and development—would take priority over the harmonious relationship the two had enjoyed over countless prior millennia. With a bevy of anxious scientists officiating, the wall of separation thrown up by farmers, settlers, towns, and businesses was breached. An intricate mechanism of steel, concrete and earthen works, nets, baskets, and piping reunited the pair. According to scientists, the Illinois River and its adjacent floodplain known as the Emiquon Preserve would soon be restored to an age-old balance. ... READ MORE

A Mixed Forecast for Drinking Water

| On this planet, water is practically everywhere. Yet worldwide, less than 0.01% of that water could be considered safe and accessible for drinking. Lately, that figure has declined by a tiny margin of a percentage, but that decline has had great significance for the people of Flint, MI. ... READ MORE

Water-Quality Monitoring Delivers Answers—and New Questions

| Aside from a few landlocked lakes and alluvial fans that dot the planet, all stormwater gravitates toward the ocean, and it is at the ocean’s edge that stormwater quality degradation delivers some of its most unpleasant and most visible outcomes. Nutrient pollution threatens coastal ecosystems with eutrophication; fecal contamination from stormwater outfalls drives vacationers from ... READ MORE

Transforming Landfills Into Resources

| A landfill can be like a baby: It is helpless to care for itself, while it's growing it eats all day, at night when resting it must be protected from the elements, and it belches constantly. If you're lucky, it won't stir up much fuss. If you're not lucky, the neighbors can become quite annoyed. ... READ MORE

Transforming Landfills Into Resources

| A landfill can be like a baby: It is helpless to care for itself, while it's growing it eats all day, at night when resting it must be protected from the elements, and it belches constantly. If you're lucky, it won't stir up much fuss. If you're not lucky, the neighbors can become quite annoyed. ... READ MORE

Data Center Power

| Kyle Ellenberger of Power Systems & Controls has seen big changes in the data center industry since the earliest few data centers were launched in the United States. ... READ MORE

Energy Efficiency Boosts Bottom Lines for Hospitals

| Hospitals use a lot of energy, “typically, twice as much as the equivalent size office building,” says Travis English, engineering manager for Kaiser Permanente’s nationwide network of health care facilities. While he says energy consumption for the typical office building might run about 90K BTU per square-foot annually, the average hospital in contrast, consumes 250K ... READ MORE

Stabilizing Hillsides and Creek Bottoms

| The rolling landscape of Scott County, MN, is rural but not particularly remote. "That area is farm country, and the Minnesota River goes through the entire area. On the top of the bluffs it's farmland, but at the river, the elevation drops about 200 feet in 800 feet," says Paul Nelson, environmental services program manager for Scott County. The scene is typical for the Minnesota River Valley; as the river winds through the 30-square-mile Blakeley Township, he says, "Parts of it are up on old glacial deposits, and some of it in ravines where glacial rivers cut through drop 200 to 300 feet in a mile or less. There are lots of eroding ravines." ... READ MORE

Light at the End of the Tunnel

| Ensconced in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, the city of Staunton, VA, with a population of around 50,000, had all the attributes of a grand historic town poised for greatness. As a tourist attraction, the city boasts easy access to famous Civil War battlefields, rustic countryside, and the childhood home of President Woodrow Wilson. Many consider it a nice place to live, with its classic historic architecture, quaint main streets, and growing popularity. ... READ MORE

Data Center Power

| Kyle Ellenberger of Power Systems & Controls has seen big changes in the data center industry since the earliest few data centers were launched in the United States. ... READ MORE

Light at the End of the Tunnel

| Ensconced in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, the city of Staunton, VA, with a population of around 50,000, had all the attributes of a grand historic town poised for greatness. As a tourist attraction, the city boasts easy access to famous Civil War battlefields, rustic countryside, and the childhood home of President Woodrow Wilson. Many consider it a nice place to live, with its classic historic architecture, quaint main streets, and growing popularity. ... READ MORE

Post-Fire Erosion Control Measures

| In the wild expanses of North America, specialists recognize that fire plays an important role in the forest ecosystem. Sometimes a forest cannot live without it, and often fire can’t be avoided. In fact, certain fire-adapted species of plants require the heat of a wildfire to spur germination. In some cases, fire cannot be controlled, and ... READ MORE

Post-Fire Stormwater Pollution Prevention

| When Vince Morris, president of Ertec, walked out into what used to be the beautiful community of formerly stately homes and forested lots in Running Springs, CA, shortly after the San Bernardino fires in 2007, thescene was almost surreal. “It was like a moonscape,” he says. Some of the trees, charred though they were, were ... READ MORE

The Deep Roots of Post-Wildfire Restoration

| In the wild expanses of North America, specialists recognize that fire plays an important role in the forest ecosystem. Sometimes a forest cannot live without it, and often fire can’t be avoided. In fact, certain fire-adapted species of plants require the heat of a wildfire to spur germination. In some cases, fire cannot be controlled, and ... READ MORE

Smart Buildings for Intelligent Savings

| When Bob Bechtold started along the path toward smart building a couple of decades ago, the term had yet to gain widespread popularity. Exploring his passion for renewable energy during the 1980s, he installed his first wind turbine and geothermal heating system, at his home. Later, he began to think that he could make the same kind ... READ MORE

Preparing for the Next Katrina

| When CNN news reporter Soledad O'Brien took a walk along the top of the new storm surge barrier known as the West Closure Complex (WCC), the structure stood in the immediate path of 2012's Hurricane Isaac as it grudgingly made it way toward the Gulf Coast. Pausing offshore for days, as if sizing up the city's newly minted defenses, the tropical cyclone's low-pressure core sucked up a huge mound of ocean and pushed it toward the city in the form of a storm surge. Impelling a surge with an elevation just 1 foot shy of the record-breaking wall of water Hurricane Katrina flung at the city, Isaac took his best shot. ... READ MORE

Taking a Pier Into the Future

| Jordan Loran, director of engineering and construction for Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), says he often felt a wave of anxiety whenever he saw anglers crawling over the loose stone and haphazardly strewn rubble to get closer to the water at the end of the quarter-mile-long jetty jutting out into the Chesapeake Bay at North Point State Park. In his mind's eye he could foresee disaster at the end of the structure known as Bayshore Pier. As early as the 1990s, when DNR took over the site of the defunct Bayshore Amusement Park, it was evident that the Edwardian-era jetty and pier structure had seen better days. ... READ MORE

Stormwater Takes Its Role in Aquifer Recharge

| It's not always clear where water can be found or how much of it is available, and in the face of dramatic climate change, it's even more uncertain how much quality water will be available in the future. Due to changes in climate, development pressure, and rising consumption, rivers and streams observed today often don't carry the flow seen even in the recent past. Surface water in reservoirs and lakes has declined, too, particularly in the southwestern United States. For example, the Las Vegas Sun reported in June 2014 that, thanks to a 14-year drought, by May of that year, the level of Lake Mead—the source of 90% of the city's water—"was down to an elevation of 1,087 feet, the 10th-lowest monthly reading since the 1930s, when the lake was filled." ... READ MORE

A Healthy Dose of Efficiency

| Hospitals use a lot of energy, "typically, twice as much as the equivalent size office building," says Travis English, engineering manager for Kaiser Permanente's nationwide network of health care facilities. While he says energy consumption for the typical office building might run about 90K BTU per square-foot annually, the average hospital in contrast, consumes 250K BTU per square foot yearly. ... READ MORE

Washout Repair with GeoGrids

| Hanging With the Highflyers Although a number of contractors performed the installation of the wire mesh, Henke notes, “Most of the wire mesh used for slope protection was provided by Maccaferri.” And because the slopes were so high, “We hung most of it by helicopter,” he adds. “There were two or three spotters on the ... READ MORE

Stopping Slope Instability Using GeoGrids

| Keeping Slopes Aligned With Geogrid Technology Whether seen in the gradual downslope movement of individual grains of sand dragged toward the ocean with each wave from the sea, or a mammoth mountainside boulder, triggered by the weight of a snowpack into a tumbling avalanche, slope instability is a process of nature. Stopping slope instability means ... READ MORE

Got Tough Questions? Ask a Model

| Computer simulations make it possible to try out new ideas without the risk of disrupting communities or ecosystems, to evaluate how a watershed would respond to acts of nature or engineering. Jeff Shiner believes computer modeling gives engineers and decision makers a set of powerful tools to make better decisions for the wellbeing of the ... READ MORE

Keeping Slopes Aligned With Geogrid Technology

| Whether seen in the gradual downslope movement of individual grains of sand dragged toward the ocean with each wave from the sea, or a mammoth mountainside boulder, triggered by the weight of a snowpack into a tumbling avalanche, slope instability is a process of nature. ... READ MORE

Efficiency Is the Name of the Game

| When guests walk through the doors of any one of the passels of new casinos opening up across the country it’s usually because they’re confident that they’ll find some green solutions inside, the kind they can take home in their pocket, or—if they’re really lucky—a satchel. ... READ MORE

Football Becomes America’s Biggest Water Sport

| Hundreds of workers clad in their safety gear, hardhats, and reflective vests are seen on the corner of Marie P. DeBartolo Way and Tasman Drive in Santa Clara, CA, the site of a just-completed stadium project. Public affairs staffers and security personnel in dark-toned business attire wield warlike talkies and direct visitors over dirt and gravel construction access roads to various virgin parking lots; a crumbling sound is heard under the wheels. The stadium, viewed from ... ... READ MORE

Bubbling With Complexity

| Animal, Vegetable, Mineral An unusual mix of species inhabits a 231-acre corner of Los Angeles, CA, housing the Wilmington Drain and Machado Lake. There is a diversity of plant, animal, and mineral species in residence, but the trouble is many of them don't belong there at all. Animals dropped off by disillusioned pet owners include snapping turtles and snakes of various species, exotic banded water snakes that have bred freely there, and even an alligator that eluded capture for ... ... READ MORE

Efficiency Is the Name of the Game

| When guests walk through the doors of any one of the passels of new casinos opening up across the country it's usually because they're confident that they'll find some green solutions inside, the kind they can take home in their pocket, or-if they're really lucky-a satchel. But, lately, some of the country's leading casinos have been pushing a new kind of green that many customers would be surprised to learn could result in a win-win situation for themselves and for the environmen... ... READ MORE

Don’t Let Good Water Stack Up

| A glass of even the best quality water, left in the open air and untouched over a couple of days, probably wouldn't sound very appetizing to most people, save those in the grip of life-threatening thirst. Even the layperson understands that drinking from pools of standing water carries a high risk of unsavory outcomes. Although it's hard to say at what point a person might consider water to be stagnant--a couple of hours, overnight, a number of days--the idea of drinking it once it'... ... READ MORE

A Promethean Task

| Ever since the ancient Greek demigod Prometheus scaled the peaks to steal fire from an agitated Zeus, gathering energy for the use of mankind has been fraught with unforeseen consequences. Prometheus got himself into a grave situation. Zeus, in his anger, bound him to a stone where an eagle devoured his liver by day; each night the organ grew back, and the cycle was repeated very next day. Fortunately, Prometheus had a rescuer. Heracles freed him from his torment and sent him to make... ... READ MORE

Reining In Wayward Creeks

| When David T. Williams gets a call to begin consulting on a streambank stabilization project, it could be for a variety of reasons. "If the river is misbehaving, or it's going to look ugly, or it's going to expose some infrastructure-a pipeline-or maybe for home protection," or a combination of those things, he says. For Williams, who is president of DTW and Associates, a civil engineering firm based in Fort Collins, CO, the solution "depends on the situation." And the methods ava... ... READ MORE

Not the End of the Line

| Life along the shoreline is going to change. Scientists predict sea levels could rise by 3 feet or more in the short time span of the next 50 to 100 years. Of course, to some extent you'll have choices if you're part of human society living on the coasts-we can relocate, adapt, or build barriers or pumps to control the water. But what about communities that don't happen to be human that depend on the shoreline and its various ecological niches for survival? Entire ecosystems don't... ... READ MORE

Los Angeles’s Proposition O

| In 2004, the Los Angeles, CA, bond referendum called Proposition O raised $500 million for stormwater quality improvements. Not only is that big in Los Angeles (L.A.), but it's an unprecedented sum for any US municipality. According to environmental advocate Mark Gold, when Proposition O was approved 10 years ago, it represented a milestone for water quality for L.A. and Santa Monica Bay. Even today, a decade later, as the last of the funds flow from the coffers into various proje... ... READ MORE

Grade-A Restoration

| America is losing wetlands at an accelerating rate. The average annual rate of loss between 2004 and 2009 increased by 25% over the five-year period ending in 2004, a US Geological Survey study recently reported. The USGS study included coastal wetlands on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. All have been subject to wetland loss, although at varying rates and for differing reasons. The USGS found that Atlantic coast wetlands had net losses of 111,960 acres, the Gulf of Mexico ... ... READ MORE

Resilience: Communities Connect the Dots to Dodge Disaster

| Rebecca Joyce told the story during a telephone interview of a neighbor in the Central Shenandoah Valley who had become so accustomed to flood waters overtaking her home that her emergency preparation plan was to keep the family photo album on a table near the front door in case she'd need to make a quick escape. But acting alone, it's hard to dodge such an all-encompassing disaster. "People who go through repetitive flooding have had to rebuild their lives so many times they're w... ... READ MORE

A Life in the Sand

| A steady wind sifts the finest grains of sand and blows them along with a briny spray toward a bank of dunes squeezed between a brackish pond and the ocean surf. It's one of the places Chris Maio has explored for traces of pre-colonial settlements in Massachusetts. Maio, a coastal geologist and educator, and now a Ph.D. candidate in environmental science, says the area just to the east of where we're standing may have been home to a hunter-gatherer society of the southern ... ... READ MORE

Cloudy With a Chance of Feng Shui

| It's a custom in Taiwan for the faithful to walk at any hour of the day to one of the numerous ornate and colorful shrines representing the domain of various local deities. Upon entering and after paying homage, the devotee, without a lot of ceremony, might pick two flat, palm-sized river stones from a box by the altar kept there as a means of peering into the future. The stones, kidney-shaped with temple symbols painted on one face, are used to ask the gods' reply to a question o... ... READ MORE

The Road to Resilience

| In a city saturated with fast-rising creeks, Tim Traughtman has heard too many terrifying tales of narrow escapes from flash floods. Traughtman is the program manager for the Charlotte, NC, Flood Mitigation Program. "We've had several events that were in the middle of the night," he says, "and I've heard stories of homeowners who said the first time they realized [their house was] flooding was while they were lying in bed. They heard their dishes clanging in the kitchen because th... ... READ MORE

How to Serve Oysters

| In the summer of 2012, researchers and staff at Horn Point Laboratory on the Choptank River did more to serve oysters on the Chesapeake Bay than perhaps anyone has ever done before. For eons, back to a time long before some of the earliest human pioneers trekked across the Bering Strait to set foot upon North America, the Chesapeake Bay has provided ideal habitat for one of nature's oldest and oddest critters: the eastern oyster ( Crassostrea virginica ). By the 1600s, when Captai... ... READ MORE

Tale of the Saw Mill

| When people say the city of Yonkers, NY, is on the Saw Mill River, they mean that--literally. Downtown Yonkers is built on top of the swiftly flowing channel known as the Saw Mill River. From the cellars of some of the industrial-era buildings near the center of town, one can actually see the river flowing beneath the basements and across the gaps between the foundations of adjacent structures. Closer to the center of town, the river had once been channeled into a flume seve... ... READ MORE

Protecting the Coastline

| The fact that sea levels are rising does not come as a surprise to many scientific and engineering experts. For government agencies such as the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), whose responsibilities include protecting the public from flood damage along the coasts and inland waterways, rising sea levels had been a focus of concern for some time-decades, in fact-before the current urgent conversations on climate change gathered steam. Charley Chesnutt, a coastal engineer with th... ... READ MORE

Jousting With the Unstoppable Ocean

| Since before the dawn of civilization, human society has been facing the challenge of rising sea levels. In fact, according to Doug Marcy, coastal hazards specialist at the NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston, SC, sea levels have been rising since the end of the last major ice age 18,000 years ago, when the glaciers that carpeted much of the northern hemisphere stopped growing and started melting. The result was a torrent of fresh water pouring into the oceans. A Tumu... ... READ MORE

Science on the Horizon

| When it comes to dust, the effects from the hand of nature may appear a bit more dramatic than those generated by the activities of humans. The catastrophic eruption of Mount Krakatoa in 1883 blasted an immeasurable quantity dust 4 miles into the atmosphere, where it persisted for up to four years, blocking sunlight and drifting to span the globe, lowering temperatures by a full degree. The great dust storm of November 12-13, 1933, started in the plains of the United States and caused discoloration of s... ... READ MORE

Breaking the Ice

| Experts agree that there are few alternatives to ordinary salt as a versatile, reliable, and economical aid to winter driving. First tested on roadways in New Hampshire in the 1940s, salt has amassed a stellar record for improving safety and cold-weather mobility. However, casual observation reveals that high concentrations of salt that occur near roadsides due to deicing can lead to several detrimental environmental impacts, and closer study has confirmed that the negative effects can extend much furth... ... READ MORE

Ice School

| Road salt is used practically everywhere, for a simple reason: It gets the job done. But not without consequences. Sodium chloride was first used as a roadway deicer in 1938, on an experimental basis, in New Hampshire. By the winter of 1941--42, a total of 5,000 tons of salt was spread on highways nationwide, according to the Cary Institute, a not-for-profit environmental research and education organization in Millbrook, NY. Since that time, the use of road salt has expanded massively. Each year, more th... ... READ MORE

A Method for Every Season

| A wide range of erosion problems of varying scale and complexity lend themselves to a common solution: channel armoring, a practice that has evolved from simply lining degraded channels with piles of stone or blankets of concrete to include a broad assortment of materials and techniques. The city of Houston, TX, has a long history of devastating floods going back to the first few years after it was established during the early 1800s. The reason is simple, says Heather Saucier, a spokesperson for the Har... ... READ MORE

The Real Dirt on the Jersey Shore

| Proprietors of summer rentals converge on city offices, seeking redress as scourges of jellyfish drift towards the beach, frightening vacationers from seaside resorts. Watermen stand by helplessly, witnessing a shocking decline in their catches in areas that, until recently, were teeming with shellfish. Homeowners recoil at the prospect of venturing into their own backyards, terrified of the thick clouds of mosquitoes that infest their suburban neighborhoods. No, these are not scenes f... ... READ MORE

The Living Filter

| A small-scale water reuse experiment that began during the early 1960s has evolved into an essential part of the infrastructure of a major university. People weren't talking a lot about water efficiency back in the 1960s. Looking back to those times, it may have seemed the supply of water, like the supply of gasoline and supplies of just about everything else, had no limits. But it was around that time that society began to take a closer look at how our behavior might be affecting the environment. The s... ... READ MORE

A Pocket Full of Stormwater

| Turning his attention to municipal watershed ecology, a leading aquatic ecologist and urban geographer says that in a healthy natural ecosystem every resource gets recycled in perpetuity, through every level of the food chain, from the bottom to the top and back again. And, he says, sustainable cities would function the same way. The infrastructure of such a city would generate revenues rather than expenses; it could even turn a profit. According to Patrick Lucey, who is the founder and senior aquatic e... ... READ MORE

Zeroing in on Trash

| Wing Tam has always believed the trash pollution problem was something too serious to put off. Tam, who is director of the Los Angeles Watershed Protection Division (WPD) of the Bureau of Sanitation, says he could describe the scene at the Los Angeles River after a typical rainstorm as "a mass of trash." When the first total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulations for trash in the nation were issued in 2002 for the city of Los Angeles, the Bureau of Sanitation took it as a call to action. The stringent ru... ... READ MORE

Icing Down the Grid

| On hot summer days—just when it’s needed most—to cover demand for air conditioning, electricity clocks its highest costs. Once considered a luxury affording comfort and status, that cooling has now become an integral component of our modern infrastructure by keeping us comfortable where we work, shop, and play, while keeping the digital fabric of our ... READ MORE

Sleuthing on the Shenandoah

| Something strange is happening on the Shenandoah River. Local residents have reported large numbers of dead and dying fish floating with the current or washed up on the banks of the picturesque waterway. Officials say that between 2004 and 2005, unexplained fish kills wiped out up to 80% of adult smallmouth bass and sunfish in multiple locations on the river, and since that time massive fish kills have returned to take their toll each spring. Don Kain, water compliance manager for the Virginia Departmen... ... READ MORE

Baltimore’s Golden Achievers

| On the approach to the northeastern outskirts of Baltimore, MD, half-rented strip-malls and defunct car dealerships alternate with stretches of modest row homes and mom-and-pop convenience stores. Well-kept porches sport a rainbow assortment of hanging flowers. On the tiny lawns, irises and day lilies jostle for a glimpse of summer sun, while a few feet away, cars, transit buses, and delivery trucks rush by, following historic Route 1 from the city center to the farthest suburbs. Amid the din of traffic... ... READ MORE

Leaf Pack: Breaking New Ground by Studying Bugs

| Bob Connick regularly sends students from his chemistry class into the small stream that runs alongside Mahopac High School, in Mahopac, NY, to collect scientific data. And Connick says they're thrilled about it. "Especially the big guys. I had them out there after it snowed--they're in their waders, cracking through the ice--and they come back, and it's all laughing and talking: "˜This guy fell in, this one did that.' After they get through all of that, I say, "˜But did you get the data I asked you to get?... ... READ MORE

Restoring a Link to Nature

| Los Angeles, CA, is a city famous for its pavement. What other city lauds a mere concrete slab as a notable tourist attraction? However, apart from the landmark Hollywood Walk of Fame, life, like the concrete, can be a little harder. Mile upon mile of freeways and boulevards, punctuated by parking lots and service facilities, sprawl over the region, distancing residents from the pleasures and benefits only nature can provide. The Needs of the People In his successful mayoral bid, Antonio Villaraigosa po... ... READ MORE

Prepared for Class

| For the town of Williamston, NC, graduation day holds special significance. For most seniors at Williamston High School, graduation means saying goodbye--not just to their alma mater, but to their hometown as well. Faced with a local economy buffeted by the vagaries of global agriculture markets, and beyond reach of the resort boom on the coast 100 miles east, young graduates see their opportunities here as limited. Dr. Tom Ward, sustainability coordinator for the town, and a former community college adm... ... READ MORE

The Shape of Streams to Come

| There is a classic image of the American stream that is easy for most of us to picture: the clear running brook, minnows darting over a sandy bed, gently sloping banks lined with willows and wi1d flowers. But the urban stream is quite different. The shape and character of streams in the urban environment have been dictated by the needs of human expediency.   Rob Ryan reflected on his early experiences with a stream near where he grew up in suburban Baltimore County, MD. It was an open concrete cond... ... READ MORE

Deicing by Design

| "An airport runway is the most important mainstreet in any town." –Norman Crabtree, Former Director, Ohio Department of Transportation Reveling in a mean annual snowfall of 55 inches, Cleveland, OH, is accustomed to snow and ice, in vast quantities. On a typical winter morning it is not unusual for many Cleveland residents to find themselves beginning the day dusting light snow, or scraping a bit of frost, from their vehicles' windshields before heading off to work. A few miles away, however, at ... ... READ MORE

Wings of Change

| Each year in the northern hemisphere during the months of October through May, aircraft deicing procedures are in full swing. While the process provides increased safety for millions of air travelers, it presents a quandary for airport managers and stormwater professionals: What is to be done with the millions of gallons of deicing-fluid-contaminated stormwater generated each winter by these essential air flight safety operations? Finding ways to deal with spent aircraft deicing fluid (ADF) and aircraft... ... READ MORE

Trial by Hurricane

| As Hurricane Katrina rumbled toward landfall on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi on August 29, 2005, Robert Moeinian, pumping station superintendent for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WBNO), got prepared: "I put together a few days' supply of food, grabbed a few changes of clothes, and met my crew at the I-10 pumping station." Anticipating "A Few Days'" Work At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 1, 2004, the start of that year's hurricane season, the I-10 pumping station became the most ... ... READ MORE

Preserving the Legacy of Glaciers

| People who live along the shores of the Great Lakes and those who visit the region know there is something special about the place that goes beyond its obvious beauty. Carved out of the continent by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago, these freshwater seas can be considered real natural treasures of North America. The Great Lakes provide drinking water, food, recreation, and transportation for more than 35 million people in the US and millions more in Canada. Sadly, the Great Lakes have faced mi... ... READ MORE

Shifting Currents

| The street lamps create a brilliant cocoon of daylight punctuated by neon accents. The Canal Street trolley whirrs into motion; this, its final run to the depot before winding up service for the night. A dozen youthful musicians enthrall a crowd at the corner of Bourbon and Canal Streets as they storm through a brass band rendition of "The Love You Save," the Jackson Five hit from the 70s. The Philadelphia Eagles and thousands of their fans are in town, for the first time since the storms, to celebrate ... ... READ MORE

Flurries and Torrents

| "Though there are many pristine areas in the states of Idaho and Alaska, there are also fast-growing urban areas where nonpoint pollution issues must be addressed," says Misha Vakoc, stormwater coordinator for the EPA's Region 10. "In the Northwest, we have many more TMDL [total maximum daily load] programs than would be typical nationwide; we have many more impaired streams. Idaho itself has a TMDL program addressing 900 impaired streams throughout the state." She says several of these impaired stream ... ... READ MORE

Matching Means and Minds

| The migration of water-pollution-prevention initiatives from the private sector to the public sector has introduced unforeseen complexities. In circumstances of limited financial and political capital, local officials charged with administering stormwater pollution control measures required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program often find themselves walking a tightrope between mandated environmental stewardship and the provision of other important government services. In... ... READ MORE

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