Our Services - Stormwater and Utility
Written by: Rachel Washington, Branden Marcinell, EI, and Travis Fiacco
Stormwater and Utility Engineering is a facet of the civil engineering services our firm provides. This type of engineering focuses on the stormwater run-off, stormwater management, and proper piping for sanitary, potable, and drinking water. Whether it’s providing these services on a small commercial site or a large-scale residential development, our team provides innovative solutions for the stormwater and utility needs within our projects.
What is Stormwater and Utility Engineering?
Review agencies require treatment and attenuation for stormwater runoff from all sites before it leaves the property once developed or modified. Proper stormwater design allows the client the best or maximized use of their property by designing the stormwater management facility to be the smallest footprint that meets this regulatory requirement, keeping as much developmental property available for development and potential revenue.
Providing clean water and removal of “dirty” water allows for a healthy society. Utilities provided are water, fire, and sanitary services. Proper pipe sizing provides reliable water pressure, while larger water systems may require the water mains to be looped. Looping the water main, as opposed to dead ending it, allows for the water to remain fresh and not stationary. Stationary water, even in a modern chlorine treated water line, can create potential for growth and contamination.
why is This Type of Engineering important?
Stormwater Engineering is required for each project we work on and directly impacts the longevity and sustainability of each project. Stormwater Engineering services are required due to the stormwater runoff that will be encountered during any future storm. This runoff needs to be properly drained away from any structures (buildings, retaining walls, parking lots, etc.) to avoid ponding and the subsequent damage that may arise from water intrusion.
With roadways, standing water is always a hazard that will not only harm the quality of the road surface and base over time, but it also presents a hydroplaning hazard to drivers. This can be a lethal side effect of standing water on roads for drivers, so it is imperative that we prevent this flooding or ponding from occurring. This water can’t simply be directed to a neighboring property so there will need to be a containment and treatment system of some sort provided on site in the form of a pond (if the site has enough space), underground treatment systems, or even in a vegetated swale (a swale that is designed to slow down the conveyance of water to allow pollutants and other solids to settle out before discharging offsite).
Although not every project we handle will require utilities, it is just as important as, if not more, than handling stormwater. When designing a full utility system, we must consider potable drinking water, fire service, and sanitary services. Buildings may be required to have fire protection by the type of facility or intended use, or a fire hydrant placed within proximity to the property for property and public safety. Fire protection is a public safety issue as well as a designed protection for the property assets. Reliable delivery of clean water and reliable removal of dirty water are also a design minimum for public safety. Being efficient with these various utilities and systems is a contributing factor in keeping clients satisfied as well as making their lives easier after construction has been completed.
The Key Elements of Stormwater and Utility
A few essential elements of Stormwater and Utility Engineering are:
Pipes introduce friction to the water moving within the pipes as well as fittings and can negatively impact (reduce) the flows received on the desired end. The public water main can provide both water and fire services to a property, but if the demand on that public line is stretched too thin, the simultaneous use of water services and fire can result in low pressure flows that may not adequately address the flows required for providing fire protection. Engineering knowledge and computer modeling verify the pipes are the correct sizes without being too large and cost prohibitive, while verifying safe fire flows can be met during all demands on the line.
- Material Selection
Materials are selected to withstand internal pressure for fluid and exterior pressure from the fill material placed above it when buried.
- Horizontal and Vertical Separation
Lines are buried a safe depth to not be disturbed by standard activities and are protected from the weight loadings of vehicle traffic and other impacts.
Horizontal separation is required for protection of potential leaks and contamination from a sanitary line seeping into a clean drinking water line through the soil.
Identifying potential conflicts helps to verify constructability. With many service lines throughout the property, lines will cross within the same areas and need to be designed in advance to avoid these potential problems, as well as providing adequate separation for safety from contamination.
Why Do We Recommend this Service?
This is a service that isn’t recommended, it is required. Stormwater and utility engineering services are necessary for environmental and public safety. Without the implementation of collection and treatment through a stormwater treatment facility, stormwater runoff from a newly developed property can add additional pollutants to the environment and higher flows possibly causing damage to downstream properties. A project cannot exist without a treatment facility, as a body cannot exist without a liver. Equally important, the reliable delivery of clean water and the reliable removal of dirty water contribute to increasing public safety.
What Should You Know?
There’s more to it than you think. There is a lot more involved than just throwing some lines in an AutoCAD drawing when it comes to these utilities and storm systems. When a retention pond is needed on a site, the engineers must account for the ground water table, which effects the storage volume of the pond and its surface area. The pond should be placed in relation to the receiving body of water so that the outfall isn’t on the opposite end of the site, and the pond must have adequate storage volume to handle all the developed site’s runoff. There is also a lot more that goes into the design of a sanitary lift station – it’s not quite as simple as burying a tank in the ground with a pump or two in it. The pumps must have the right horsepower, the right style, the hatch on the tank must be sized appropriately to get the pumps in and out, the tank itself needs to be sized to have just the right storage volume, and the float switches need to be set for turning on and off the pumps.
Keep in mind that the 2-dimensional design provided in the concept phase is not what the final product will be. This is a representation of a best estimate for what can potentially fit on the project property. It is a delicate balance between project improvements and pond sizing to meet these needs. As the relationship is not a direct one, many changes can occur once the final modeling is analyzed. With these changes, keeping with the original design can incur higher construction costs by using more expensive materials to make the design a reality. However, with some flexibility and creativity, all while sticking with the overall intent of the original design, there are often other viable solutions that can save time and money on both design and construction.
While utilities often remain unaffected by hurricanes and tropical/severe storms (when built and properly maintained), these can be rainfall events that test the design of stormwater systems as these can match or exceed rainfall depths established as design events. Our designs are intended to protect certain elements of the improvements at established rainfall depths/ intensities and durations. For example, roads are generally expected to remain dry during storm events that are statistically determined to have a depth with a 1 in 10 chance of occurring any given year (10-year design storm), and a duration of 24 hours. Floor elevations are expected to remain dry during storm events with a 1 in 100 chance of occurring any given year, and a duration of 24 hours.
Our stormwater services do correlate with the influx of hurricanes and tropical storms we see here in Florida. Most of the systems we design are capable of handling what is known as a 25-year storm. This means it is a storm that may occur only once every 25 years on average (it is still possible to have two 25-year storms in the same year as this is based on probability, and nothing is ever 100% guaranteed). In short, these systems are designed to handle the common afternoon thunderstorms seen in the summers as well as the extensive rains brought from seasonal Nor’easters and cold fronts pushing through the area, and they can handle a tropical storm or weaker hurricane given the conditions of said storm (how fast its moving, direct or indirect hit, which side of the storm hits the site, etc.). Even if our designed systems get overwhelmed by a major storm event, they are designed to still quickly recover whether that be through infiltration into the soil or outfalling through a control structure into the nearest receiving body of water.
Meet the Team
Fred R. “Rudd” Jones, PE
Senior Project Manager
Rudd has more than 35 years of experience in the engineering and construction industry where he has managed, directed, and designed internal and consultant teams on all design, technical, environmental, and permitting of a variety of projects. His specialized experience also includes efforts for identifying and developing new material sources. He researches, processes, and developed new, more efficient, and environmentally responsible ways to extract materials for processing.
Scott Knowles, PE
Senior Professional Engineer
Scott has extensive experience in all phases of land development engineering, including site and roadway design, stormwater modeling and drainage design, utility engineering and coordination, and regulatory permitting. His vast expertise in all areas of civil engineering and the construction industry has fortified his skills on best constructability and biddability design methods. Rounding out his engineering expertise, Scott has specialized experience in Geographic Information System (GIS) databases, and in pump and power systems design for sanitary and stormwater lift stations.
Branden Marcinell, EI
Branden is specifically skilled in land development site and infrastructure design, stormwater management facilities, ponds, embankments and erosion control features, infrastructure assessments and utility design and permitting and construction engineering inspections. He has also assisted in the preparation of numerous pump station design calculations reports. He has provided engineering design and inspections on a variety of projects including residential communities, educational, commercial and roadways.
Kyle Sowards, EI
Kyle recently graduated from Florida State University with his bachelor’s in engineering. He gained experience in land development and stormwater engineering through his past internships with MDG. Kyle is experienced in stormwater modeling, pond design, and utility design.
Travis recently graduated from University of North Florida with his bachelor’s in engineering. He gained experience in stormwater and utility engineering through his past internship with MDG. Travis is experienced in FDOT Storm Tabs, stormwater calculations, and pipe crossing analysis.
In need of civil engineering services for your project? We would be happy to partner with you!