Surface Water: Into the Hydrosphere

Water is perhaps our most essential resource — at once shaping and sustaining both the natural and built environments. Population growth, climate change, development and aging assets have put pressure on conventional infrastructure and fragile ecosystems alike. WSP USA’s water resources engineers and scientists advance Future ReadyTM strategies to plan, manage, clean, restore and protect surface water resources to provide resilience to our communities and ensure a sustainable future. To learn more, please click on the video banner above.

At WSP, our water resources experts understand the complexity and subtleties of addressing water related challenges. Through our Future Ready approach, our experts in watershed management, hydrology and hydraulics, drainage, stormwater management, flood control and ecosystem restoration deliver holistic thinking and innovative solutions that address evolving conditions and future trends. To support our clients throughout their project life cycle — from studies through design and construction — WSP offers a range of surface water capabilities and expertise, using an integrated multidisciplinary approach.



Future Ready Water Resources


The role of water resources engineering in our communities is becoming increasingly vital in light of our changing climate and the related impacts on water supply and control. WSP’s experts are pushing forward innovations in the form of infrastructure adaptation to counter these trends and other impacts of climate change. This includes an ongoing exploration into the range of variability to be considered in the design of surface water infrastructure and advancing green infrastructure and low impact development strategies to decentralize runoff management and better safeguard the natural environment. To help our clients and communities become more Future Ready, WSP provides new approaches for infrastructure vulnerability/risk assessments, hazard planning, flood protection system design, climate adaptation engineering, resiliency-based asset management and post extreme event recovery projects.


Watershed Management


Holistic approaches to watershed management provide the most effective investments as we seek to provide improvements to our surface water resources. The health and function of our watersheds can be compromised by localized problem areas or by widespread impairments across communities. The WSP team excels at working with communities to understand the complexities and concerns unique to each area, performing investigations to identify the issues that strain our water resources, and developing holistic management plans to uplift the health of our surface water and our communities.


Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling


Hydrologic and hydraulic modeling is employed by our team to develop a comprehensive understanding of how rainfall interacts with our watersheds, drainage systems and rivers. They are essential tools for planning and designing improvements to surface water systems and for predicting water cycle processes. Perceiving the relationships between our watersheds, rainfall and the resultant runoff is a key step in understanding flood risks and performance along our waterways. Beyond simply tabulating flood flow rates, it is even more important that we understand the magnitude of uncertainty associated with our estimates. The WSP team is pioneering approaches to considering the interactions between rainfall and runoff and integrating uncertainty into our analysis and decision-making processes. We offer industry leading capabilities in the full range of hydraulic modeling needs from cost effective one-dimensional studies to rigorous computation fluid dynamics studies of three-dimensional flow fields. For 30 years we have been innovating — and we continue to push the leading edge — to increase the resiliency of our communities against extreme event floods.


Stormwater Runoff Management


Urbanization of our watersheds and the disruption of the water cycle by buildings, pavement and piping of drainage systems harms the quality and behavior of surface water. Interaction of rainfall with our hard infrastructure contribute to poor water quality, degrades aquatic habitat and exacerbates flood flow conditions. These disruptions change natural hydrologic patterns, accelerate natural stream flows, stop infiltration and groundwater interchange, and introduce urban pollutants to runoff. Our water resources teams plan, design and construct the full range of drainage and runoff management solutions needed to support our communities and infrastructure, and to protect the environment from our collective footprint. In urban centers, WSP specializes in the analysis of increasingly complex and sometimes aged drainage networks to understand the sources of problems, and to recommend the improvements needed to align with evolving criteria and a changing climate.

Green Infrastructure and Low-Impact Development


WSP’s specialists propose environmentally preferable stormwater management techniques through a variety of green infrastructure best practices, such as complete tree canopies and natural stormwater infiltration. By implementing low-impact development principles and practices, disruptions to the water cycle are managed in a way that reduces the impact of built areas and promotes its natural movement within an ecosystem or watershed. Applied on a broad scale, low-impact development techniques can maintain or restore a watershed’s hydrologic and ecological functions. Our services also include preparing before and after renderings that illustrate the outcome of implementing recommended improvements.


Stream and Wetland Ecosystem Restoration


Today, more than ever, we recognize the valuable role that healthy ecosystems play in the management and resiliency of our streams, rivers, bayous and coastlines. We understand that thriving riverine and wetland ecosystems drive habitat for fish and wildlife, feed the drinking water sources for millions of people worldwide, provide sustainable protection for communities from flooding, provide natural water quality treatment and support local economies. With increasing risk of pollution and destruction, stream and wetland restoration activities are vital to restoring the natural state and function of river systems in support of biodiversity and landscape development. At WSP, we employ nationwide expertise in ecosystem restoration — from the Everglades to the Pacific Northwest and everywhere in between — leveraging broad expertise in stream restoration, tidal and non-tidal wetland creation, hydraulic engineering and river mechanics, riverine ecology, wetland and freshwater ecology and botany, biology, wetland hydrology, invasive species management, freshwater and marine sciences engineering, and geomorphology.


Hydraulic Structures & Flood Control


WSP has a long and proud history of supporting large landmark civil infrastructure projects, including numerous hydraulics structures such as the Ashokan Reservoir Upgrades and the Las Vegas Wash Stabilization program. With increasing uncertainties and changing climates, flood control through carefully planned, designed and operated hydraulic structures play a critical role in saving lives and protecting properties and communities. Beyond these large projects, our team has substantial background in supporting the more common needs of all of our clients including the design of new or upgraded hydraulic structures such as dams, levees, reservoirs and pumping stations, and by leading inspection and maintenance oversight of these same structures. As a comprehensive engineering consulting firm, we have access to subject matter experts across the wide range of technical specialties beyond our water resources specialists that are involved in the design and maintenance of hydraulic structures including structural, geotechnical, electrical, mechanical and tunneling.


Coastal Engineering


Increased frequency and intensity of the extreme weather events can have short-term and long-term detrimental physical and financial effects on natural and built shorelines and can damage public and private property. WSP has delivered a range of coastal engineering projects such as living shorelines, beach replenishment and erosion protection, and coastal structures like wharves, jetties, piers, breakwaters and access channels, and berms and seawalls. We have also used numerical modeling, coastal and hydrodynamic modeling, and flood modeling to analyze the coastal protection benefits of numerous projects on coastal stabilization, including levee design, marsh restoration and barrier island restoration. Our projects are designed to work in harmony with their surroundings and to minimize the potential impact on environmental resources.

Thought Leadership

WSP’s water resources experts advance Future ReadyTM strategies. Learn more about what they do:

Tidal Wetland Restoration

WSP USA is helping convert a long dormant brownfield site into a vibrant, resilient community destination along the Hudson River in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

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Coastal Flood Control

Plans to remove a deteriorating Connecticut dam are nearing completion, and include an innovative design that will repurpose silt and sediment dredged from the river.

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Green Infrastructure

San Diego County was among the first regions in Southern California to adopt Green Streets guidelines to improve understanding about green infrastructure.

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Key Projects

Higbee Beach Restore

The restoration of several hundred acres of marsh into a greenway provides habitat for migratory species, and supports maritime and early successional forest.

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Virginia Beach Coastal Flooding

WSP USA’s phased improvements to the region’s infrastructure, designed to increase resilience against increasingly extreme weather events and sea level rise, have already proved their protective potential.

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Ashokan Reservoir Structures

WSP USA is providing consulting services for improvements to the oldest New York City-owned reservoir in the Catskill Mountains to ensure continued water service.

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Flood Resilient Development

This urban renewal project aims to transform a flood-prone former industrial site into a multi-purpose space using resiliency strategies to adapt to a changing climate.

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Lincoln Park Wetlands

With help from WSP, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection applied for and received funds to restore 42 acres of wetlands at Lincoln Park.

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Stormwater in the Everglades

The C-44 Reservoir/Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) is a project covering nearly 10,000 acres in South Florida. A long-term plan is under way for for restoring, protecting and preserving the water resources of Central and Southern Florida, including the Everglades.

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Our Experts

Chin Lien, P.E., D.WRE
Senior Vice President, Director of Water
United States
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Jessica Field
National Practice Lead, Surface Water/Drainage
United States
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Jennifer Brunton
National Practice Lead, Ecosystem Restoration
United States
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Justin Lennon
National Practice Lead, Hydraulic Structures & Flood Control
United States
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