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Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 14 Jul 2016 10:38 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By ASCE-Pittsburgh Awards Committee

    The Eden Hall Campus is situated on 388 acres in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. Originally a farm and retreat for working women of Pittsburgh, Eden Hall was gifted to Chatham University in 2009 by the Eden Hall Foundation. The 20- to 25-year development plan for the residential campus calls for it to be self-sustaining in every way; housing 1,500 students, achieving zero carbon emissions, producing more energy than it consumes, and managing all stormwater and wastewater on site.

    University president Esther Barazzone proclaimed that “… Eden Hall [would] be the first community in the world built from ‘below the ground up’ for the study of sustainable living, learning, and development.”

    Critical to realizing this endeavor has been the management of that which falls on the ground from above.  Unique to the project was the implementation of a decentralized “treat it where it falls” approach to stormwater, preventing any singular large concentration of runoff.  The stormwater management system is comprised of a series of separate rain gardens strategically placed around the site to manage small individual drainage areas. Each rain garden discharges excess water over a concrete level spreader to further mitigate concentrated runoff. Captured roof runoff is connected to a 50,000-gallon underground retention tank and later reused for landscape irrigation. Stormwater is also infiltrated into the north parking lot by using a permeable surface and underground stone infiltration beds.

    Stormwater is not the only source for reuse applications. A biological wastewater treatment system is utilized for sanitary sewer waste produced by the campus. This system includes a series of primary treatment tanks at each building and secondary treatment consisting of a trickling filter, subsurface wetlands, a sand filter for polishing, and UV filter disinfection.

    The primary tanks dose effluent to a trickling filter for nitrification. This effluent is then directed into two subsurface constructed wetland cells. Treated water is stored for reuse as flushing water in campus buildings. Any excess water is safely disposed of via an underground drip irrigation system. The treated water is also connected to a campus greenhouse for use in limited applications.

    The overall system allows for extended contact times for the effluent at each stage of treatment. This increases the effectiveness of treatment and overall water quality. The system is designed to be expandable by simply adding additional wetland cells as needed.

    The incorporation of these best-management-practice approaches has enabled Eden Hall to meet its project goal of having no point discharges from the developed site.  The Eden Hall Campus masterplan allows for flexibility in design and engineering solutions so that future technologies can be integrated into the existing infrastructure. The campus acts as a living laboratory for sustainable design and operations.

    Find out more about the Eden Hall Campus or to take a tour of the site.


  • 07 Jul 2016 10:40 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By the ASCE Blog Editor and ASCE Awards Committee

    Mr. Gregory Rumbaugh, M.Sc., P.E., M. ASCE, is the ASCE-PGH 2015 Government Engineer of the Year. “The award is really a testament to the endless opportunities to be involved with the organization, whether it is at the section-level, technical institutes, Student Award Foundation, or Younger Member Forum,” says Greg.  “It is also reflection on the caliber of the mentors that I’ve been fortunate enough have throughout my career, working in both the federal government and in private industry.”

    “Greg is truly deserving of this award,” says colleague Angela Mayer. “I am confident that he will continue to serve as a role model for other young Civil Engineers in the greater Pittsburgh area.”

    Greg has been active with ASCE and the Geo-Institute since his graduation from the University of Pittsburgh with his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 2006. He subsequently earned his M.S. in Engineering Management from Robert Morris University in 2012.  Greg is currently a Civil Engineer with the Department of Labor in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in Pittsburgh.

    “I’ve been fortunate in my career with the agency to have the opportunity to work with both surface and underground mine operators extracting various products such as coal, ores, and aggregates,” he explains.  “The most enjoyable part of the job is working with our technical or enforcement personnel, in conjunction with mining engineers in the industry, to solve difficult ground control issues.” 

    Greg has demonstrated noteworthy performance and meritorious achievement as demonstrated by his selection in 2013, and again in 2014, for the “Certificate of Excellence for Historic Achievement” presented by the U.S. Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. He was also recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Young Engineer in the Public Sector by ASCE’s Eastern Region Council.

    “Greg is a very matter-of-fact person with a sense of humor,” say Ms. Mayer.  “When working with Greg, he creates an open environment where he injects humor with work.”

    While in college, Greg was the University of Pittsburgh ASCE Student Chapter President and remained involved with ASCE following graduation through the YMF, GI, and ASCE Section. He was chair of the YMF Technical Committee for five years where he organized numerous presentations on such topics as networking, financial management, and leadership for younger engineers.

    He also organized the YMFs first Mock Interview Workshop Session in 2012. This Workshop, held at the University of Pittsburgh, provided Junior and Senior engineering students the opportunity to practice their interviewing skills with several practicing engineers. “I don’t think I realized the impact that these workshops would have with students at the time we were organizing them,” he says.  It was later recognized by ASCE National as one of the best practices by an ASCE organization. “Only after [the event], and through the feedback from the students, did we get a sense for how beneficial these types of events were for the students involved,” says Greg.  “I think the students that attended the event were able to leave with more confidence in their ability to interview with prospective employers.”

    Greg is currently serving as Vice Chair of the Geo-Institute. Greg has attended numerous ASCE sponsored conferences including the National Convention and the Eastern Regional Younger Members Council (ERYMC) as a Pittsburgh Section Representative.  He also works with the Student Award Foundation (SAF) as a past Trustee and Treasurer.  “The Student Award Foundation is one of the most worthwhile causes I have had the opportunity to be involved with in our industry.  Each year, the group manages to recognize students that either reside or attend colleges within the Pittsburgh Section’s area,” explains Greg.  “The most enjoyable part of working with the SAF is participating in the selection of each year’s awards.  I am amazed at the achievements and ambition of the civil engineering students in the Pittsburgh area.”


  • 30 Jun 2016 9:51 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By the ASCE Blog Editor and ASCE Award Committee

    Congratulations Daniel Moore, the 2015 recipient of ASCE-Pittsburgh’s Journalism Award.  “As a journalist, it's an honor to receive recognition from an organization of experts,” says Daniel. “The award to me is recognition that I was not only able to appeal to a broad readership but also successful in reaching the people who are immersed in the topic on a daily basis.”

    Daniel grew up in the hills of southern Ohio and graduated with a journalism degree from Kent State University in 2014. He has previously interned at the Spokane Spokesman-Review in Washington State, the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., and the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky.

    Currently, Daniel covers energy, transportation and labor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.   He’s written a wide range of stories about infrastructure, including how the power grid will evolve to meet environmental regulations, how different cities approach sewer overflows, and how railroad track inspections can improve.

    “I'm most proud of my story on how railroad track is inspected and how inspectors are sometimes pushed to do quicker inspections when rail traffic is heavy,” Daniel explains. “As we've seen across the country, a missed rail defect is a matter of life-and-death when it comes to derailments of crude oil trains. I analyzed federal accident data and found track defects were the most common cause of derailments. I then spent weeks gathering track inspector sources– on- and off-the-record –who could verify some of the on-the-ground issues, such as arguing with dispatchers about the need to inspect a section of rail.”

    Many journalists would consider such research a tedious task.  However, Daniel is willing to put in the effort to breakdown the complexities of everyday infrastructure challenges.

    “Infrastructure is so ubiquitous that it's largely overlooked. Some people even think it's boring,” he says. “But that is precisely why I think it's important to bring to the public consciousness. For example, people may see trains carrying crude oil when they go to work every day, but what are the track inspectors doing to ensure safe transport? And what are the business models driving how many oil trains are put on the tracks? These things are critically important to being an informed citizen because it affects everyone.”

    Of course, learning about the details of an engineering complication is never easy, and to break it down into article for the public is even harder.  Says Daniel, “The biggest challenge for me is, quite frankly, learning the science behind the stories enough to write it in a broadly appealing way. Of course, that's also what makes my job fun. I always try to have someone walk me through a piece of infrastructure or technology in person so that I can pull visual details and get an idea of scale. That way I can describe it in terms readers can understand.”

    The Pittsburgh Section of ASCE will also be nominating Daniel for the National ASCE Excellence in Journalism Award in September. Since 1994, this award is presented annually at the Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award Gala in Washington, D.C. in March.  The award honors newspaper journalists for outstanding articles that enhance public understanding of the role and impact of civil engineering in designing solutions for clean water, transportation, the environment, and other public works projects.  In 2006, the award was expanded to include journalists and producers from English-language, general-interest regional and national newspapers, radio and television stations, magazines, and electronic and Web-based news outlets.

    The news media wield tremendous impact on public opinion about civil engineers and civil-engineering-related issues.  For example, news coverage can influence vital infrastructure legislation, licensing laws and building codes.  Coverage also can affect talented young people's decisions to pursue careers in civil engineering.

    Through this annual national award, ASCE hopes to encourage continued coverage of civil engineering and related issues as a means of engaging the public in civil engineering initiatives impacting their community. 

    The Pittsburgh Section is proud that Jon Schmitz from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won the ASCE Excellence in Journalism Award in 2012, and is proud to nominate Daniel Moore for the prestigious award this year.

     


  • 01 Jun 2016 11:08 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Nick Cvetic, Pitt ASCE Vice President

    The University of Pittsburgh American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter has had another successful year competing at the Ohio Valley Student Conference.  This year, 47 students and 3 faculty advisors from the Swanson School of Engineering Civil & Environmental Engineering Department attended the student conference hosted by Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.  This year’s conference was held across the Ohio border in the charming town of Lawrenceburg, Indiana during the first weekend of April.  Students from 14 schools located throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Western Pennsylvania participated at this year’s conference.  Many aspects of this conference allowed us to take technical knowledge from the classroom and apply it to real-world situations - and we had a great time building camaraderie while doing that!

    Without a doubt, the Pitt Concrete Canoe team made the most progress since last year.  After passing a swamp test, this year’s patriotic-themed canoe (nicknamed Ol’ Glory) floated to some exciting finishes.  Even after some injuries, Pitt was able to come in first place during our heats for the women’s sprint and co-ed sprint races.  Finding other unconventional uses for building materials, we also participated in the Concrete Baseball Bat and Concrete Bowling Ball competitions.

    After a trip to the Steel Bridge National Competition in 2015, the Pitt Steel Bridge team faced a significant amount of adversity prior to this year’s regional conference.  Due to unforeseen conditions at our fabrication facility, it was unclear whether we would even be able to successfully compete at this year’s conference.  However, our dedicated students were ultimately able to safely and effectively design, fabricate, and construct our bridge at this year’s regional competition.

    Most awarded of all of our competition teams, the Environmental Team earned a 1st Place Overall Award.  Additionally, the superb water filtration treatment system designed by Pitt students was given the 1st Place Award for Most Sustainable Apparatus, the 3rd Place Award for Most Creative Apparatus, the 3rd Place Award for Best Technical Review Paper, and the 3rd Place Award for Best Poster Display.

    Furthermore, with the support of our unique professor Dr. Budny, the Surveying Team measured up for the 1st Place Surveying Award.  An innovative housing plan design and a quality change order completion yielded a 3rd Place Civil Site Design Competition Award.  Due to all of these successes and also due in part to our participation in the Balsa Wood Bridge Competition, the Geotechnical Competition, and the Technical Paper Presentation, Pitt ASCE took home the 3rd Place Overall Conference Award.  This accomplishment made the long bus ride back to Pittsburgh seem much more enjoyable!

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with each of the competition teams for their months of hard work and perseverance.  Best wishes to everyone competing next year and carrying on traditions of excellence at the 2017 Ohio Valley Student Conference.


  • 31 May 2016 7:25 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By the ASCE Blog Editor and the ASCE Awards Committee

    Congratulations Lauren Terpak, A.M. ASCE, the 2015 recipient of ASCE-Pittsburgh’s Michael A. Gross Meritorious Service Award.  “Lauren embodies meritorious service,” says colleague, Angela Mayer.  “She has devoted copious volunteer hours to the Pittsburgh Section for over 12 years."

    Lauren obtained a B.E. in Civil Engineering with a focus in Environmental Engineering from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio in 2002.  Upon graduation, Lauren was hired by Metcalf Eddy, Inc. in Pittsburgh, which later became AECOM. Lauren works in the Water division, and specializes in wet weather planning, consent-order-driven collection system asset management, and condition assessment programs. Lauren has been with the company since 2003.

    Aside from her career, Lauren has been actively involved with the Pittsburgh Section of ASCE since she first moved to Pittsburgh. She started off as Chair of the Younger Member Forum (YMF) Employment Committee in 2003. She then advanced to become Technical Committee Chair, Secretary, Vice President, President, and Past-President of the YMF. Subsequent to her YMF Past-Presidency she was elected to the Section Board of Directors (BOD) as a Director and completed her 3-year term in 2014. During her term as Director Lauren served as Section BOD Outreach Committee Co-Chair, Nominations Committee member and Membership Committee member. “The Pittsburgh Section would not be where it is today without Lauren Terpak’s meritorious service, “ Ms. Mayer adds.

    A few of Lauren’s notable ASCE accomplishments include:

    • Implementation of the Section-wide electronic survey which encompassed nearly 3 years of planning.
    • Compilation and contribution to various award nomination packages resulting in several award wins, including: The Younger Member Forum first ever Peer Group Award, and the National Committee of Younger Members Employer Recognition Award for AECOM.
    • Creation of the Section Diversity and Inclusion Committee which resulted in the National awarded Section and Branch Honorable Mention Diversity Award.
    • Secured partnership with Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., which has since led to two graduating ASCE members and $2,000 in scholarships.

    Pittsburgh wasn’t Lauren’s first introduction to ASCE, as she served as Secretary of her student chapter and was named Outstanding Senior of the Year from ASCE’s Cleveland Section. Lauren’s current role is Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee where she promotes diversity and inclusion awareness amongst the civil engineering community and asks that you engage her in a “Diversity Minute.”

    But above all, it is Lauren’s positive attitude that stands out.  “Lauren is a very devoted person to all tasks she takes on, but above all Lauren just likes to have fun! “ says Ms. Mayer.  “When working with Lauren she creates an uplifting environment of progress and lightheartedness.”


  • 26 May 2016 10:50 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By the ASCE Awards Committee

    The South Junction Interchange project, designed by HDR (prime consultant) and constructed by Golden Triangle Construction (prime contractor), was an integral part of PennDOT District 12-0’s ongoing initiatives to make safety and capacity improvements to the entire I-70/I-79 corridor.

    The project’s primary safety improvement was the elimination of the previous substandard loop ramp that was used to maintain the I-79 northbound movement. This loop ramp contributed to many significant accidents over many decades – and was the primary reason that Reader’s Digest Magazine once labeled the South Junction Interchange as one of the seven most hazardous interchanges in the United States.

    The elimination of the previous substandard loop ramp by way of the new high-speed flyover eliminated the need for unassuming drivers to reduce traveling speeds from in excess of 60 mph hour to 20 mph just to maintain travel on the I-79 northbound direction. Through the reconfiguration of this ramp, the South Junction interchange no longer requires appreciable reductions in speed in order to maintain the continuous northbound I-79 movement. It is much more aligned with driver expectations, and, consequently, a much safer facility through which to travel.

    During the construction phase, Golden Triangle, in collaboration with their construction engineering partner Mackin Engineering, conceived the innovative idea of constructing a tunnel underneath the existing I-70 overpass structures that would maintain the ramp traffic without disrupting the four lanes of I-70 traffic.

    Since the tunnel would be continuous and much wider than the old bridge decks, there would be enough room to shift I-70 traffic lanes from side to side in order to completely remove the old superstructures and rebuild the interstate without the use of conventional temporary median crossovers. Golden Triangle’s outside-the-box innovation saved over $1 million in construction costs – and improved work zone traffic control safety by eliminating the need for high-speed median cross-overs within a curved portion of the I-70 interstate.

    PennDOT District 12-0 staff worked very closely with designer and contractor throughout all phases of the South Junction project delivery to ensure a much needed, cost-effective, and innovative improvement to this Washington County transportation facility.

    PROJECT TEAM

    Owner: PennDOT District 12-0

    Prime Design Consultant: HDR, Inc. Subconsultant Design

    Team Members: Burns Engineering, Inc., Raudenbush Engineering, Inc., Santangelo & Lindsay, Inc., Pedersen & Pedersen, Inc., Christine Davis Consultants. Inc.

    Contractor: Golden Triangle Construction Construction Engineering: Mackin Engineering, Inc. Construction Inspection: JMT


  • 24 May 2016 8:22 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By the ASCE Blog Editor and the ASCE Awards Committee

    Professor John Brigham is the 2015 ASCE-Pittsburgh Professor of the Year.  “I truly love being an educator,” says Dr. Brigham.  “So, to know that it is appreciated is a great feeling.”

    Dr. Brigham received a BE from Vanderbilt University in 2003, and a MS and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell University in 2006 and 2008.  After his doctorate, he joined the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering where he was promoted to associate professor in 2015.

    Focusing on computational mechanics and inverse problems, Dr. Brigham’s research group is actively involved in a number of diverse projects, including kinematic analysis of the heart for improved diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, novel design concepts and optimal design strategies for smart material morphing structures, and efficient and accurate quantitative nondestructive evaluation algorithms. “One of my newest projects, that is of course very exciting, is to develop the computational tools to design smart material morphing building surface tiles for more energy efficient building envelopes,” he explains.

    “Dr. Brigham brings to the CEE Department energy, fresh ideas and a willingness to lead the way in getting initiatives implemented,” says colleague, Dr. Julie Vandenbossche. “He is a great person to collaborate with on projects.  You can rely on him for significant contributions and he will always put the needs of the project and the team before his own needs.”

    Dr. Brigham researches other fields, such as simulation modeling of nuclear reactor components, estimation of pathological variation in heart mechanics, and evaluation of well-bore cement integrity.  He leads the Computational Diagnostic and Inverse Mechanics Group at Swanson School of Engineering at University of Pittsburgh.

    As a teacher, Dr. Brigham has focused on courses involving structural analysis and computer aided engineering. “I also enjoy all of my classes,” Dr. Bingham explains.  “Right now, Introduction to Structural Analysis is probably my favorite class I am teaching.”  Dr. Brigham also teaches the undergraduate class Computer Methods in Engineering, and the graduate classes Fundamentals of Finite Element Methods and Advanced Finite Element Methods.

    “I believe that he is one of the most clear, helpful, challenging, and all-around best teachers I have ever had,” says Senior Civil Engineering student, Scott Overacker. “The majority of Pitt civil engineering students agree.”

    “Dr. Brigham is one of the best teachers in the Department both in and out of the classroom,” Dr. Vandenbossche adds.  “His commitment to the students and his contributions to both the Department and in his field of study are immense. I feel honored to have Dr. Brigham in our Department.”


  • 13 May 2016 9:13 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Emily Eichner

    At 12,000 feet above sea level, a three-hour drive from the city of Quito will take you to the small village of Curingue, Ecuador.  This village is a one-hour minimum hike away from the nearest water source. This community of approximately 150 members works hard to feed their families through household farms. A small government stipend pays for household water but it must be fetched by walking the hour distance, each way, on mountainous terrain to a spring.

    This long trip take a significant portion of the villager’s time each week. But even more alarming, Engineers Without Borders - Pittsburgh Professional Chapter (EWB-PPC) discovered the spring water to be unfit for consumption, as it was contaminated with harmful bacteria.  The spring water continually causes a number of health problems for many people in Curingue.  EWB-PPC is determined to reduce the community’s time spend collecting water and to provide the community of Curingue with a readily available, uncontaminated source of drinking water.

    In 2014, a group from EWB-PPC traveled to Curinque to explore solutions. A group returned in 2015 for another assessment trip before the finalizing designs to build two groundwater intakes, two pumps, a pipeline, and two pump houses. The pipeline will bring water from the spring to Curinque, and the two pump houses will sit along the pipeline path, near the town. At the first pump house, the water will be treated through chlorination. Once the water reaches the second pump house, it will go through a clear house and be pumped the remainder of the way to a storage tank near Curingue.   

    The design plan has been approved by EWB-USA and the Pittsburgh Professionals will be traveling for the first implementation trip in June 2016.

    The community of Curinque has also been preparing for the project and will continue to work on the pipeline and other features between the next two trips.  Future trips are tentatively scheduled for fall 2016 and early spring 2017.

    Despite the great progress, EWB-PPC has more work to do. There will be two more implementation trips after the June trip, for which EWB-PPC will need volunteers to travel, help with potential design changes, and work on fundraising for the project. Anyone interested in helping with the Ecuador project may contact Albert Cheng, the EWB-PPC President at albertzcheng@gmail.com.


  • 03 May 2016 8:22 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Tom Batroney, PE, ENV SP, M.ASCE – ASCE Pittsburgh Sustainability Committee Chair, Mott MacDonald

    Greg Scott, PE, M.ASCE – Environmental and Water Resources Institute – Pittsburgh Chapter Chair, Buchart Horn

    On Thursday, May 19th at 8:00 AM at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Pittsburgh Chapter of Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI), and Sustainable Pittsburgh/Champions for Sustainability (C4S) will be hosting its annual day-long Sustainability Conference. Now in its 8th year, the Sustainability Conference has presented cutting edge themes and topics associated with the ever changing topic of sustainability in civil engineering. The very first ASCE-PGH/EWRI/C4S Sustainability Conference in 2008 explored the potential impacts of climate change on regional infrastructure. Since the inaugural conference in 2008, the overall landscape and dialogue relating to climate change has greatly changed. No longer is the dialogue about whether or not climate change may exist or potentially pose a threat to critical infrastructure. The dialogue has now shifted to developing real and tangible infrastructure protection strategies against the impacts climate change while at the same time finding new and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

    According to scientists from many reputable government agencies, including the National Air and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a weight of evidence indicating that the Earth’s climate is undergoing a change that may have serious future consequences on our lives and infrastructure. In response to these growing concerns, the ASCE national headquarters adopted Policy Statement 360 in 2015 on the impact of climate change on the civil engineering profession. The policy statement reads:

    “Civil engineers are responsible for the planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of physical infrastructures, including buildings, communication facilities, energy generation and distribution facilities, industrial facilities, transportation networks, water resources facilities and urban water systems. These physical infrastructures have long service lives (50 to 100 years) and are expected to remain functional, durable and safe during that time. These facilities are exposed to and are vulnerable to the effects of extreme climate and weather events. Engineering practices and standards associated with these facilities must be revised and enhanced to address climate change to ensure they continue to provide acceptably low risks of failures in functionality, durability and safety over their service lives.”

    The above policy statement is definitive in stating that the civil engineer practice and its practitioners have a duty to consider the impacts of climate change. As we go forward with new critical infrastructure projects and upgrades to existing infrastructure, we as civil engineers must consider if climate change may pose a substantial risk to the “functionality, durability, and safety” on the project.

    The following is a brief outline of the speakers and topics for 8th Annual Sustainability Conference. To see the full agenda and to register visit the ASCE-PGH website.

    •  Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Pittsburgh and the City’s Resilience office will provide an update for how the city is progressing in their on-going (and near complete) city-wide resilience assessments, transportation via complete streets initiative, and resilient stormwater management.
    • Duane Verner from Argonne National Laboratory’s Global Security Sciences Division will provide insights on conducting site-level vulnerability assessments and developing climate change adaptation strategies for cities and critical infrastructure.
    • National ASCE’s Committee on Adaption to a Changing Climate released a free publication in 2015 titled “Adapting Infrastructure and Civil Engineering Practice to a Changing Climate”. Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor, Costa Samaras, served as one of the lead authors in the publication. Costa Samaras will be in attendance at the conference and will present on the publication and the overall impacts of climate change on regional infrastructure.
    • The afternoon will include an international case study from Amsterdam, Netherlands. Andre Struker from Waternet will provide groundbreaking waste to energy strategies that are transforming the way cities think about climate impacts and infrastructure.
    • Lively audience breakout sessions and panel discussions will be conducted with speakers.
    • Poster sessions from area university students along with the first ever Scholarship Award for Best Student Poster.
    We look forward to your attendance on Thursday, May 19th regarding an important topic for the future of the Pittsburgh 


  • 28 Apr 2016 10:30 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Alex Potter-Weight

    ASCE members and guests gathered at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania on Thursday, March 17th for a joint dinner meeting of the Geo-Institute and the Environmental and Water Resources Institute.  As part of the meeting, Doug Clark, P.E., and Brianne Jacoby, P.G., of Civil and Environmental Consultants presented the lecture “Groundwater Modeling and Settlement Analysis for Closure for of the Little Blue Run CCP Disposal Area.” The presentation covered various aspects of the rigorous design and analysis required to facilitate the closure of a large disposal area for coal combustion products (CCP).

    The Little Blue Run (LBR) disposal area is a 900+acre impoundment located in both Beaver County, PA and Hancock County, WV that has been used since 1975 for the disposal of CCP from FirstEnergy’s nearby Bruce Mansfield Generating Station.  In 2012, FirstEnergy and PADEP agreed to a cessation of all disposal operations by the end of 2016, along with the development of a closure plan to be completed by 2031.   The closure will eliminate disposal pumping and greatly reduce infiltration into the CCP, resulting in a significant drop in the water table.  This change in effective stress would likely result in very large settlements that could impact the surface drainage and final cover system both during and following closure.  In order to analyze this potential, a detailed groundwater modeling and settlement analysis program was undertaken.

    Ms. Jacoby presented the groundwater flow modeling portion of the project, which was performed using MODFLOW-2000, a three-dimensional finite-difference model developed by the USGS.  After calibration to the observed groundwater levels, the model was constructed to perform a 250-year analysis of the water table draw-down.  It encompassed an area of 27,000 ft by 27,000 ft and extended approximately 400 feet deep.  The resulting predicted drop in the groundwater table exceeded 100 feet in some locations, with the greatest amount of draw-down occurring in the areas of the thickest CCP deposits.

    Mr. Clark presented the analysis of the ensuring settlement that would occur as a result of the expected drop of the groundwater table.  Between 2002 and 2012, CEC undertook five separate subsurface investigations and four laboratory testing programs.  The subsurface investigation programs included 38 cone penetration test soundings and 34 borings for undisturbed sampling.  The laboratory testing programs included 77 consolidation tests on CCP sample and numerous other tests.  The scale and sophistication of the groundwater model allowed for a detailed settlement calculations with over 2,600 discrete points of analysis.  The resulting prediction included a maximum settlement of over 30 feet at the location of the thickest CCP deposit, where the draw-down was the highest.  The significant grade change as a result of this predicted settlement necessitated major modifications to the post-closure surface drainage system and the final geosynthetic liner cover materials.

    The presentation was based on a paper first published for the 2015 World of Coal Ash Conference in Nashville, TN. The Geo-Institute and Environmental and Water Resource Institute Chapters of the ASCE Pittsburgh Section were happy to be able to provide 1.0 PDH for the presentation.  This annual joint technical dinner meeting between the two societies also included a social hour and a sit-down dinner. 


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