As a water resource engineer, I have an opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects and wear many different hats.
Most of my time is spent in the hydraulic modeling realm, assessing current performance of systems and proposing improvements while incorporating the constraints of the project — which can be significant in some cases. Other times I get to use my hydraulic knowledge and experience to inform processes and procedures for larger, state-wide assessments to evaluate damage from a plethora of different mechanisms. I am also responsible for designing drainage systems that meet the goals of the project and help protect communities from flooding and other water-related hazards.
My passion for water resources started in college when I assisted an academic research team in wetland monitoring and vegetation studies. I knew then that I wanted to do something water-related, and so I moved from academia to consulting where I learned more about hydraulic modeling, drainage design, protecting natural water bodies and so much more.
While I am no longer in the field daily, I know my work helps protect the natural systems I grew to care for years ago, and by working at WSP I get to both continue this purpose and find new avenues to help communities near and far.
Serving Communities Through Water
Through our on-call contract with the City of Raleigh, WSP was awarded the Glenbrook-Dacian Stormwater Improvements project. The improvement project includes an evaluation of the existing system and the subsequent design for drainage improvements.
This project is not only important to improve the drainage network and surrounding natural systems, but as a local project for our office, it is an opportunity for us to serve the best interests of our own community. Located in a historically lower income part of town, these improvements aim to reduce flooding hazards and improve the environment for a marginalized group of citizens.
I am responsible for leading the hydraulic modeling effort and ensuring that we are evaluating the system holistically, and the results of the modeling effort will then inform the design of the improvements that will mitigate flooding impacts to the community.
As one of the project’s water resources engineers, I am honored to be able to serve my community the best way I can – through management of stormwater.
Little Indian Creek
I also had the opportunity be part of the Caltrans Pilot Climate Change Assessment of Little Indian Creek in California, a project that is a prime example of WSP’s commitment to help its clients develop into Future Ready® organizations.
This project not only incorporated climate change projections into the infrastructure decision-making process, but also included considerations for snow melt and wildfires. Our client wanted to incorporate these additional considerations in the infrastructure improvements to respond to our changing world.
Our climate projections considered a wide span of future possibilities, from warm and dry climates all the way to cool and wet … and everything in between. Our future is unknown, so we wanted to capture all the possibilities that we could over the next one hundred years.
Additionally, our evaluation looked at the effects of snowmelt as the climate changes.
In the winter, snowmelt is a significant contributor to flooding in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where our project was located. We evaluated a wide range of temperature and snowpack conditions and summarized the results in terms of peak flows.
Wildfire also significantly impacts flood and debris flows within the watershed and was another crucial part of the study. The influence of wildfire and degree of burn was incorporated into the watershed modeling and the results of the peak flows were evaluated and summarized, similar to the methods we used to analyze snow melt.
By bringing all our data together, we were able to evaluate current and future flow results from the watershed for a plethora of climate-related variables. This flow summary was used in the hydraulic evaluation of the existing infrastructure and the proposed improvements. The proposed improvements included alternatives to bring the existing infrastructure up to the current standard of design as well as increase it to account for flow increases in the coming years.
It is our hope that this project can serve as a template for other mountainous watershed and infrastructure climate assessment studies.
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