American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro Receive “Project of the Year” Award

The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro accepted the “Project of the Year” Award at last night's The American Society of Civil Engineers Central New Jersey Branch Annual Dinner. The team received the award for their work on the Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project. Photo from left to right: Tim Dillingham, American Littoral Society Executive Director; Helen Henderson American Littoral Society Ocean Planning Manager for the Mid-Atlantic region; Dr. Stephen J. Souza, Princeton Hydro Founder.

The American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro accepted the “Project of the Year” Award at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Dinner. The team received the award for their work on the Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project.

”This was a terrific project conducted for a terrific client – the American Littoral Society,” said Princeton Hydro Founder Dr. Stephen Souza. “It also would not have been possible without a very supportive and engaged stakeholder group.”

The Barnegat Bay Project focused on reducing the amount of pollution entering the Bay’s waterways by retrofitting outdated stormwater management systems and implementing green infrastructure on previously developed sites.

“The project showcases the combined skill-sets of Princeton Hydro,” said Dr. Souza. “This was a truly collaborative effort involving the company’s aquatic ecologists, wetland ecologists, water resource engineers and landscape architect. We all worked closely to develop and implement green infrastructure solutions that measurably decrease pollutant loading to Barnegat Bay and correct localized flooding problems.”

Learn more about the award-winning project here: https://goo.gl/uQ3DfV. Big congratulations to the entire Littoral Society team for winning this prestigious award! And, many thanks to ASCE Central Jersey Branch for the recognition.

Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project Named “Project of the Year”

Princeton Hydro is thrilled to announce that American Littoral Society’s Barnegat Bay Green Infrastructure Project has been named “Project of the Year” by The American Society of Civil Engineers Central Jersey Branch.

The award-winning project was a collaboration between the Littoral Society, Princeton Hydro and key partners that involved implementing a variety of green infrastructure stormwater management projects in order to decrease the volume of runoff and associated pollutants flowing into and damaging Barnegat Bay.

The green infrastructure projects were designed to treat stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to the Bay. Completed projects include:

  • Conversion of standard, grassed detention basins into naturalized bio-retention basins, as exemplified by the Laurel Commons Carnation Circle Basin, which now serves as a paradigm for the cost-effective retrofitting of aged, traditional detention basins
  • At Toms River High School North, the installation of tree boxes,
  • At the Toms River Board of Education offices, the replacement of conventional paving with permeable pavement,
  • At multiple sites, the construction of rain gardens,
  • At Toms River High School North, the construction/installation of stormwater management Manufactured Treatment Devices (MTDs)
  • At the Toms River Community Medical Center (RWJ Barnabas Health), the construction of a bio-retention/infiltration basin

The entire Princeton Hydro team extends our warmest congratulations to Helen Henderson and all of the folks at American Littoral Society for winning this prestigious award! Princeton Hydro is proud to partner with this incredible organization and is grateful for the work they do to protect our beautiful coastline and save the bay!

The Awards Dinner and celebration takes place on Tuesday, October 17th at the Forsgate Country Club. The “Project of the Year” nomination was originally submitted by Princeton Hydro founder Dr. Stephen Souza on behalf of the Littoral Society.

For a more detailed summary and photos of the award-winning project, click here.

The Restoration of Bound Brook

To the delight of fish and environmentalists alike, an important step has been made in the removal of the aging spillway of Hunters Pond Dam in Scituate and Cohasset, Massachusetts. The spillway was notched to ensure a gradual release of water from the impoundment, letting Bound Brook flow free again after being dammed for centuries.

As the first barrier upstream from the Atlantic Ocean, the dam’s removal restores 5-miles of river spawning ground and habitat for alewife, blueback herring, American eel, rainbow smelt, sea lamprey and other important species. The removal of Hunters Pond Dam also reduces the threat of dam failure.

Princeton Hydro is proud to be working on this project with T Ford Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and many other great partners. The project is funded by grants from the Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration and the NOAA.

The project also includes rebuilding a culvert, removing a concrete spillway, and replacing a water main. Stay tuned for more!

The Plight of Aging Dams, and One Solution

As dams age, the danger to life and property around them increases. If they were to suddenly fail and flood downstream communities and infrastructure, there would be serious loss of property and life. More and more, dam removal has become the best option for property owners who no longer want or can no longer afford the rising cost of maintenance and repair work required to maintain such a complex structure.

The Courier-Post recently published this Commentary piece titled, “The Plight of Aging Dams, and One Solution”, which was written by Princeton Hydro’s Vice President and Principal Engineer Geoffrey M. Goll:

Many of our nation’s dams, while originally intended to provide benefits for mills, water supply and energy generation, are severely aged and unmaintained. Nearly 20,000 of the dams on the Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams – which doesn’t even include many dams that are not inventoried or known about – were built in the 1960s. With expected lifespans of 50 years, these dams have reached their limit. And by 2020, 70 percent of all dams will be over 50 years old. Like roads and bridges, dams also require upkeep, maintenance and eventually removal or rehabilitation.

As dams age, the danger to life and property around them increases. If they were to suddenly fail and flood downstream communities and infrastructure, there would be loss of property and life. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials, the professional organization for dam safety engineering professionals and regulators, estimates there would need to be a $21 billion investment to repair just 2,000 deficient, high-hazard dams. More and more, the removal of dams has become an option for owners who no longer want or no longer can afford the rising cost of maintenance and repair work required to maintain such a complex structure.

For dams like this, removal benefits local economies, and eliminates threats to people and property in local communities. There are also many byproduct benefits, including restoring fish migration routes, improving water quality, restoring floodplain functions and values, and increasing biodiversity.

On Sept. 8, we had the honor of meeting the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during a visit of our Hughesville Dam removal project on the Musconetcong River, located in northwestern New Jersey. This project exemplifies the successes that can be achieved through public-private partnerships, including local communities, state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private commercial entities. This is the fifth dam removed on the Musconetcong River by a coalition of stakeholders, led by the Musconetcong Watershed Association. The Department of the Interior (specifically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) provided funding to remove this very old, out-of-compliance dam.

The success of these partnerships is due to the unique strengths that each organization brings to the table. This project achieved the removal of a flood and safety hazard, and will restore additional river miles for migratory fish, improve water quality by removing the heat sink of the reservoir, and provide additional safe passage for recreation along the river.

It is easy to see why Secretary Jewell chose this site to visit, but the old and outdated dam at Hughesville is far from alone. Across the nation, we need to remove dams like this at a much larger scale – aging dams that no longer are of value to us, but increase the danger to those who live downstream. If we can build on this momentum and start to address the issue of dam safety compliance on a national scale, we can address these threats to American’s safety and strengthen local economies.

The Westtown Dam and Lake Restoration Project is Now Complete!

westtown-0720161456Princeton Hydro is proud to announce the completion of the Westtown dam restoration and dredging project. For the past 10 years, Princeton Hydro has been working with the Westtown School on dam safety compliance and lake restoration and is the engineer-of-record for the restoration of the Westtown dam and lake.

Westtown School, a hallmark of the Westtown Lake community, initially contracted Princeton Hydro to complete dam inspections and assess the lake in terms of its environmental health and the need for dredging. The completion of this project is a testament to the School’s commitment to its mission of “inspiring and preparing its graduates to be stewards and leaders of a better world”. The School leads by example through practicing dam safety compliance and working to restore the lake for future generations.

westtown-img_2438For the dam, Princeton Hydro completed periodic visual inspections, dam breach and inundation analysis, the preparation of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and the Operations and Maintenance Manual.

For rehabilitation, Princeton Hydro designed the dam to be able to pass the 100-year flood event via a completely new drop spillway and outfall barrel, and the construction of an auxiliary/emergency cast-in-place stepped spillway. As part of the rehabilitation of the dam, Princeton Hydro surveyed and designed the dredging of 56,000 cubic yards of sediment, the rehabilitation of the lake’s sedimentation forebay and spillway, and the enlargement of a culvert on Westtown Road, immediately downstream of the dam. The culvert replacement was required due to the closure of two secondary outlets on the dam and corresponding culverts below Westtown Road.

westtown-0713161041aThis project also required a variety of permits, including a Chester County soil erosion and sediment control plan approval, a Dam Safety construction permit, a PADEP General Permit 11 for the road crossing, and a US Army Corps of Engineers Individual Permit in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

Additionally, Princeton Hydro successfully navigated interests for two species of concern: the bog turtle (federal and state listed) habitat and red-bellied turtle (state listed) populations.

Following design and permitting, Princeton Hydro provided construction documentation and administration, including the review of shop drawings, monitoring soil compaction, inspecting concrete pours and collecting concrete test cylinders for break tests (ACI certified engineers), completing monthly progress reports, reviewing payment requests and change orders, and attend bi-weekly project meetings with the client. Flyway Excavating, the contractor for the project, worked seamlessly with the School and Princeton Hydro to accomplish the overall goals of the design.

The Westtown project is an excellent example of Princeton Hydro’s turnkey engineering, permitting, and construction administration services. Please contact us if you have a similar project you need assistance with or have questions about.

westtown-p1260748

*Photos courtesy of Flyway Excavating.

 

 

 

Sandy Task Force – Anticipating Report Release

The federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force will be releasing its Strategy report in a week.  This Task Force, established by President Obama’s Executive Order, brings together a multitude of federal agencies; for a full list, see the EO.  The Executive Order charges the Task Force Chair, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shawn Donovan, in part, with “communicating and engaging with States, tribes, local governments, Members of Congress, other stakeholders and interested parties, and the public on matters pertaining to rebuilding in the affected region.”  Representing the New Jersey Association for Floodplain Management, I met with the Task Force in Washington, D.C., on June 4, 2013 to present on-the-ground testimony on observations seven months following Hurricane Sandy landfall.  The Task Force members and  aids, present and on the phone, were engaged in what I had to say.  They have a difficult task: to highlight the positive outcomes of the recovery while noting improvements to be made for the next “next time.”

Sea Wall Overtop.

Destruction from Hurricane Sandy Waves Overtopping Sea Wall in Sea Bright, NJ.

We use the word “resilience” over and over and I’m sure the Strategy report will repeat the term often.  But, what will the Task Force Strategy report say?  That the early use of the 60+ billion federal dollars (about $10 billion of those dollars to the National Flood Insurance Program) have made the Sandy affected area more resilient to another Hurricane?  Will it be a critical review of the resiliency successes and failures of our national disaster response?  Will it suggest modifications to existing programs, recommend additional higher standards in addition to the Base Flood Elevation + 1-foot, or favor more state actions to qualify for aid to increase resiliency?  We, as outsiders, are eager to know.

I envy the people of New York (State and City) in that concerted effort has been applied to long term disaster risk reduction planning,  and now comes the need for superior leadership to implement those high-minded goals.  Nine-months post-Sandy, we in New Jersey have unresolved opportunities to adapt to the threat of future storms.  What we need from the Task Force is a vision on how to address disasters certain in our future; how to engage experts in flood public policy; how to encourage pre-storm planning beyond FEMA Hazard Mitigation Plans to influence comprehensive (master) plans, zoning and land use; how to boost community capacity and mandatory base training to manage local responsibilities, how to champion federal higher standards (after all, the National Flood Insurance Program is opt-in), and, how government will acknowledge future conditions in standards.

John A. Miller, P.E., CFM, CSM
Water Resources Engineer
Certified Floodplain and Stormwater Manager
Associate – Princeton Hydro, Ringoes, New Jersey

 

 

Dam removals in New Jersey – how did we get here?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, it became painfully evident that the many dams in and around the state were woefully obsolete. Obsolescence occurs on a dam when it, either through climactic changes or antiquated designs, is unable to safely pass those infrequent yet highly destructive floods. Obsolescence can also occur when earthen embankments or concrete structures have deteriorated to the point of no longer providing safe resistance to seepage and impounding water behind the dam. The threat to the public living in the path of a potential flood wave that results when a dam suddenly bursts is varied but can have serious consequences and liabilities for dam owners.

Following the hurricane, the NJDEP Bureau of Dam Safety sent letters to all the dam owners in their records reminding them of their obligation to maintain their regulated structures in compliance with the Dam Safety Regulations. It was serendipitous that, at the same time, American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started a program called the “Community-Based Restoration Program River Grants,” whereby grants were made available to remove obsolete dams to allow for migratory fish passage. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the same time started looking to dam removals as meeting the restoration criteria for their funding programs.

These sources of funding were serendipitous as “dam safety compliance” not only means the renovation of a dam to meet current standards, but the elimination of the structure altogether is a means of compliance: no dam, no regulatory requirements. This grant opportunity opened up a whole new set of funding sources for dam owners that did not have the wherewithal or desire to maintain a highly regulated and risky structure.

The first dam to fall in the state for the benefits of dam safety compliance and migratory fish passage was the Harry Pursel Dam on the Lopatcong Creek in Phillipsburg in 2001. The next dams were the Gruendyke Mill Dam and Seber Dam on the Musconetcong River in Hackettstown under the leadership of the Musconetcong Watershed Association in the mid-2000s. Princeton Hydro was proud to be a part of each of those removals, and so many others – from North Carolina to Vermont.

Momentum for the removal of the thousands of obsolete dams across the country has increased; New Jersey has no dearth of them. There are plenty. However, as the recent economic recession has hit the private sector, so too has it impacted the availability of government funds to restore natural resources for the public good. Fortunately, other vehicles have been developed to fund dam removals.

In the past several years, Princeton Hydro completed the first dam removals used for the purpose of offsetting wetlands impacts, through projects in Hunterdon and Ocean County. Now, others are following in the path cleared by these projects to boldly use dam removal for the mitigation of wetlands impacts and other types of natural resource damages.  NJDEP is formally in favor of removing dams in the name of restoration, and is even encouraging the removal of obsolete dams as such projects achieve many positive public safety and environmental goals.

It will be vitally important to maintain creativity for funding opportunities and promote public awareness of the importance of dam removal as a cost effective restoration tool.  As a result, the removal of obsolete dams can continue well into the future. If you are interested in further understanding the regulations in NJ, benefits of removal, and examples illustrating dam removals, please visit the following sites:

American Rivers – Dam Removals in NJ
Other dam removal resources from American Rivers
Clearing House for Dam Removal Information

Geoffrey M. Goll, P.E.
Vice President and Founding Partner

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Risk Awareness – Your Flood Preparation First Step

Originally posted March 10, 2011 at phfieldnotes.blogspot.com.

The New York and Philadelphia metro regions are experiencing two significant and consecutive rain events in a week and people are again concerned about how to assess vulnerability to flooding and how impending flooding compares to previous floods. The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service is a tool used by local and state offices of emergency management and provides past, current and updated river projections.

You can access this too; the website is http://water.weather.gov/ahps/. Click on an area of the country and you will be moved to a Weather Forecast Office region – for the New York and Philadelphia region, you want the Philadelphia/Mt. Holly NJ region. This screen shows the current status of gages by color. Next click on one of the forecast points and the individual gage will appear. You will observe the current stage of the river in blue, the predicted stage through time in green and, scrolling down, a list of past major events and corresponding flood elevation to place the forecast into perspective. As a citizen, this tool provides information so that you can take appropriate action in moving valuables to higher ground and implement your flood plan. For more on a flood plan, see the website Focus on Floods: http://focusonfloods.org/.

Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service forecasts are updated as data becomes available and not before modeling is completed every six hours. At the bottom of the chart, the forecast time is posted and, unless an unusual situation develops, look for the next update six hours thereafter. It is important to realize that especially with early predictions, the modeling is performed on estimated rainfall. As rainfall is recorded by Doppler radar and rain gauges, and stream gages register the change in the stream stage, the model is refined. Times of peak stage and peak elevation will change over time and it is important to monitor. Also, you should heed the notices from your local emergency management coordinator as he or she is monitoring additional data and may have instructions for your safety – communities will have ways to communicate instructions though email, website and, if needing higher attention, reverse 911.

Risk awareness is your first step to prepare for a flood, and importantly, guides what mitigation or adaptation you can do to reduce your susceptibility to flooding in the future. Most often, the urge to improve resiliency is strongest immediately after a flood. Take advantage of this time, for in the next flood, you will be more confident in weathering the storm.

John A. Miller, PE, CFM, CSM
Water Resources Engineer