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    Civil Engineering – Where Every Day is Earth Day

    It’s EarthDay once again! [April 22nd]  In schools across the United States, students are learning about the important natural resources available to us and they are taking time to focus on ways to reduce, reuse, renew and recycle.  It is encouraging seeing this focus in the classroom and exciting to think about how this will translate to a better tomorrow.  That is our focus at MeritCorp every day – ‘Designing the Future’ to our best ability every day.  Perhaps you read the title of this Blog and you are asking yourself, “What does a Civil Engineer do that affects our environment?”

    WHAT DO ENGINEERS DO?

    There are many facets to Civil Engineering and some of the specializations have more impact than others.  Here are just a few of the ways that a Civil Engineer manages the resources around us:

    • Engineers design how and where water flows taking into account contaminates, distance, filtration and final location.  This includes surface water, groundwater, wastewater, soil and air.
    • Engineers help manage our natural environment including wetlands, watersheds and floodplains.
    • Engineers design systems for wastewater treatment and disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

    EARTH DAY – EVERY DAY

    With each and every project, whether it be a roadway, building, or subdivision it is important to note that Engineers do not just consider building size and location, vehicle/pedestrian pavement design, traffic flow and safety, but they look at how the stormwater runoff will be collected, stored and discharged.  A Civil Engineer needs to find a way to reduce the volume of water and the level of contaminates in stormwater runoff.  They need to consider how to utilize natural filtration thru clean soil to recharge groundwater tables and to help protect sources of drinking water.

    • Where will the water that washes off the sediment, salt and oil from the building or pavement go?
    • How are contaminates separated from the stormwater discharge?
    • When a building is constructed, will there be enough area to contain rainfall and prevent downstream flooding?
    • Does the planned building or parking lot affect a natural area or wetland?

    Proper management of stormwater from any land development is essential to ensure the continued quality of our natural water system of streams, rivers, wetlands, watersheds and floodplains.

    SITE CIVIL WORK AND BEYOND

    When buildings and subdivisions are constructed, the civil engineers are responsible for designing how and where drinking water is provided to serve the site and how wastewater will be leaving the site.

    • Where will the water and sewer lines that are necessary for the building go?
    • How will they hook up with what is already in place?
    • How are these water and sewer lines protected?

     

    Municipalities and some developments are required to have wastewater filtered and cleaned either by a water treatment facility or thru a natural process before it goes back into our streams and waterways.

    Earth Day is an important reminder that we need to minimize our negative impact on the environment.  As we learn and improve, we also strive to ‘clean up’ what is already in place thru testing and remediation.    Every day MeritCorp Group LLC works to design a better tomorrow thru responsible planning and thoughtful Engineering.   We can also help identify potential hazards at existing developments with Phase I and PhaseII investigations, and Asbestos Surveys.  We don’t need to wait for Earth Day to improve the World we live in because here we do it every day.

    –  by Clayton Schuler and Rebecca Luginbill

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  • Great Lakes, Chicago Waterways, and Asian Carp

    Asian Carp and the threat they pose to the Great Lakes has been in and out of the news for some time now, and has just recently been spotlighted by a new report prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps).  “Asian carp are fast-growing, aggressive and adaptable fish that are outcompeting native fish species for food and habitat in much of the mid-section of the United States.1

    “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) submitted to Congress the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Inter-basin Study (GLMRIS) Report Jan. 6, 2014….The report contains eight alternatives, each with concept-level design and cost information, and evaluates the potential of these alternatives to prevent, to the maximum extent possible, the spread of 13 ANS, to include Asian carp…” 2    The  Army Corps, during the Month of January 2014, is in process of hosting public meetings in Chicago, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, St. Paul, St. Louis and Milwaukee to discuss the options available and allow for public comment.  Since all of the options offered require extensive funding, there needs to be public support for any plan put into action.

    The Chicago Area Waterway (CAW) system has been the main topic of conversation regarding the threat of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes. In this new report, the Army Corps identifies 18 other possibilities for passage of Asian Carp and other species into the waterways.  One passage where preventive measures are needed is known as Eagle March, near Fort Wayne, Indiana.

    Eagle Marsh is at the headwaters of the Wabash River, which is part of the Mississippi River Basin, and the Maumee River, which is part of the Great Lakes Basin. During flood events, water depths in Eagle Marsh range from 2 feet deep to 10 feet deep. These events last from just days or up to a month, and can occur multiple times during any given year. These events allow for a clear passage for Asian Carp and other species between the two basins.

    Several species of Asian Carp are known to be present in the Wabash River, and are within 25-70 miles of Eagle Marsh.  To reach Eagle Marsh, the fish would need to enter Little River and then a series of ditches. Upon reaching Eagle Marsh, the free passage to the Great Lakes (Erie) via the Maumee River can occur. To date, there is no certain evidence that the fish have reached Little River. There is no evidence of Asian Carp in Eagle Marsh either; however there is evidence of common carp, which have made successful passage for decades.

    Several projects are currently in place or in the design phase to prevent passage of these invasive and destructive fish from our waterways.   Currently a temporary chain link fence has been installed between the two basins and is meant to prevent larger fish from gaining free passage. Other possibilities for implementation include structural barriers, chemical treatments, biological controls and physical fish removal.

    Our waterways are an important resource to be protected.  At MeritCorp Group, LLC we want to help our clients make informed decisions and provide information needed to create eco-friendly developments focused on the best use of natural resources.  Some of our services include Flood Control, Stormwater Management, Erosion Control, and Drainage.  For a complete list of the services we offer please see our website.

    Please feel free to contact our office with any questions or for more information on the services we provide.

    – by James Meier, PE, PLS, CFM

    1.  National Wildlife Federation website:  http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species/Asian-Carp.aspx
    2. Army Corps of Engineers Report www.glmris.anl.gov
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