Leveraging the power of GIS

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology is a powerful tool for communities because it puts them in control of their own information. It’s interactive, so civic leaders can connect data pieces and create their own layers of current information quickly and efficiently.

Integrating outside software with GIS technology creates some very powerful results. A great example is a water resource engineer who reviews floodplain models. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center produces HEC-RAS, software widely used for river and floodplain modeling. While HEC-RAS and its companion software, HEC-GeoRAS, allow for mapping of floodplains through GIS, it does not provide a means for visual representation of certain models.

Of particular concern are models with unsteady, or variable, flows which are increasingly needed to analyze the floodplain. This gap in the market prompted Moore Engineering to develop a data mining script to extract spatial and flow data from the HEC-RAS model and plot it in GIS. Manually obtaining this data used to be very labor intensive, and took days to complete. Moore’s process is more powerful and elaborate, and can be accomplished in a fraction of the time. It has become a very valuable tool throughout the review of floodplain models.

Two of Moore Engineering’s GIS specialists, Kyle Volk and Tom Sayward, are eager to share what they’ve developed at two upcoming GIS conferences. The North Dakota GIS Users Conference is set for Monday, Sept. 28, in Fargo, while the Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference is Oct. 7-9, in Duluth.

Kyle and Tom’s in-depth presentation, “Floodplain Models: A streamlined review through data and mining visualization,” will detail their work.

Kyle will provide an overview of the modeling and output of the software. He graduated from NDSU in 2005 and has been a civil engineer at Moore Engineering for 10 years. He’s the GIS coordinator for the company, and his experience includes analysis and design of flood control projects, GIS applications in water resources and GIS assessment analysis. Kyle enjoys camping with his wife and two kids, and has a salt water aquarium.

Tom will speak on the code behind the program and the processing of data from HEC-RAS to GIS. He is pursuing a master’s degree in software engineering from North Dakota State University, and has been a GIS programmer for Moore Engineering for nearly three years. In addition to programing, he enjoys bee keeping, martial arts and learning Mandarin Chinese.

We hope to see you in Fargo or Duluth!

If neither of those works for you, call 701-282-4692 for more information or send us a note and we’ll get back to you.

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Staying ahead of the technology curve

Simplify, simplify. Simplification is the best way to reduce costs, become most efficient, and – in the case of mobile GIS software paired with drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – possibly even more accurate.

Brady Woodard, one of Moore’s construction engineers, had the opportunity to attend the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) conference in San Diego last week. There, Brady was able to speak with developers of ArcPad, see developing software and experiment with Trimble devices. The conference attracted 16,000 people from 16 different countries.

Why so popular?

Predictions for the global UAV market say an annual growth rate of over 5 percent is expected over the next 10 years. North America and Europe are expected to be the largest UAV markets, with a cumulative market share of more than 67 percent.drone

Brady knows regulations on the drone/UAV market have relaxed over the past few years, which will make it easier for his team to collect data when Moore invests more heavily in drone technology.

Brady works closely with Moore’s GIS department, and attends the conference yearly to stay on top of the latest technology in the field. He says this year’s conference showed him Moore is positioned well for the move to drone technology. The company’s use of mobile GIS technology will transition us to the next step, data collection with drones. Combining these geo-referencing tools, our company could collect data on elevations, contours and qualities/volumes.

As an example, Brady points to one of Moore’s current projects, the Upper Maple River Dam. There’s a lot of material being built, shifted, flown in and pre-constructed, and lots of earth and fill is being brought to the site daily. Currently, with detailed surveying and hand calculations, the crews can determine the volume of materials being pushed to the site. The newer technology would simplify their current system and provide more immediate estimates, giving project managers more continual data that can be stored and used to adjust the timeline. This allows us to provide clients with faster preliminary project cost estimates and timelines. He also says the technology would help simplify inspections when access is hindered.

Moore will continue to monitor technological and regulatory developments to stay on top of emerging trends in drone use.

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Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities

The general public probably doesn’t think about it. Kids take it for granted. Developing countries may never experience it.

So what is “it”?

Clean water. Scientific regulations. Water quality standards.

It’s all second nature to us. And it’s accepted because it keeps us safe and our environment clean.

Even so, these regulations are ever-changing, so when an unfunded regulatory change lands on your city’s plate, what is the next step? This situation is the exact reason our clients have come to appreciate our consultative approach. We are up to speed on newly adopted water quality regulations and wastewater issues affecting Greater Minnesota cities. And, it’s a big reason I’m heading to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities conference.

I suspect nutrient levels will be a hot topic this year. But while it’s good to hear updates on the latest research, study and analysis of the nutrient levels in our water, it’s also a chance to untwist the facts for our current and potential clients looking for help with their city’s storm water, wastewater and water supply systems.

Our clients have a lot of questions. How will they pay for the changes necessary for regulatory compliance? How do you know what type of funding is there? Moore’s approach makes navigating through the regulations simple and easy. We even assist with identifying funding alternatives for projects that need it.

And we approach funding differently than what you’ll find anywhere else. We work with cities to be sure their projects are focused on sustainability.  Then, we assist them in backing it with strong, efficient funding programs. This, we feel, is the best way to make your city strong, viable and competitive in a way that meets the needs of your residents.

Come find us at the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Summer Conference, July 22-24 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center!

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In league with Minnesota cities

For 55 years, Moore Engineering has been helping cities in this region find solutions that fit their situation. A small-town North Dakota native, I’ve been working with cities for 35 years. I understand how important it is to plan for the future with both projects and funding.

I’ve heard many city officials share information on funding they locked in for projects. Securing funding is essential, but did your approach make sense? Are you getting everything out of that source that you’re able to? Could you have approached it differently to do more for your city?

The Moore approach to funding is different than what you’ll find anywhere else. We don’t just get a city a grant, we work with them to get – and then do – the most with their grant. We’ve found that projects focused on sustainability backed with strong, efficient funding programs are the best way to make your city strong, viable and competitive in a way that meets the needs of your residents.

We love talking future. Stop at booths 912 and 914 at the LMC conference in Duluth, and we’ll talk!

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Moore support for STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM. Imagine our future without these four staples.

As a company, Moore Engineering knows that STEM programming and education is essential to building a strong future for our company, our region and our world. It’s a large reason why Moore Engineering helps promote the STEM career opportunities as fun, challenging and rewarding. That’s why we put ample time into volunteering, judging, hosting, promoting and sponsoring STEM programs and events.

A few examples include:

  • Annual scholarships to civil engineering students at North Dakota State University.
  • Collaboration with North Dakota State College of Science to develop and enhance the civil engineering technology curriculum, including an endowment to the Construction and Design Technology Program designated for scholarships, administrative support, equipment, faculty training and software.

  • Hosting eighth grade girls on “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” challenging them to use creative problem solving skills with several different building and design projects. Two of Moore’s female engineers also volunteered at a similar girl’s STEM event in Jamestown.
  • Judge and financially supporting students involved in the Student Spaceflight Program, a program that sends one group experiment to the International Space Station.
  • Sponsoring Project Lead the Way, a program that trains teachers and provides STEM equipment for them to use in the classroom.
  • Supporting employees who hold positions on STEM outreach boards at local colleges.
  • Employing around 20 civil engineering and civil engineering technology students during the summer.

In our opinion, it’s about showing kids what is possible, then inspiring them. If done right, we can encourage them to be brave and make deliberate choices to fulfill their potential and engage in a rewarding, challenging career.

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Changing perspectives about storm water ponds

Issue 1Managing storm water runoff is a significant issue in any residential, commercial or industrial development. It’s a concern for the community, developer and local and federal governments – and with good reason.

Storm water runoff, if not addressed with development, can have serious consequences, including flooding, erosion, sedimentation and contamination of lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

An evolving landscape with more complexity

As we continue to add more roads, parking lots and building rooftops that are impervious to rain water we would see more runoff, with higher flows and with more velocity unless the effects are mitigated.

Issue 3Excess storm water runoff has long been a problem, and the practices used to manage have evolved over time. While the main objective historically has been to control, move and contain it, in more recent years, there’s been concern about not just the quantity of water, but the quality as well. Laws have been put into place and local, state and national entities are more involved in finance and management decisions concerning storm water.

While managing runoff is still a primary concern, current thinking about storm water management also reflects a more comprehensive, holistic mindset that not only takes into consideration the above, but also includes environmental mitigation, preservation and incorporation.

One widely used management practice continues to be storm water ponds, a structure that while it protects against flooding and improves water quality, is  often misunderstood, and their use should be advocated creatively.

What you should know about pondsRetention

There are basically three types:

  • Retention ponds, also called storm water ponds, wet retention ponds or wet extended detention ponds. It’s basically a storm water storage facility with a permanent, pool and is desDetentionigned to allow sediments and pollutants to settle out of the water.


  • Detention ponds, also called dry ponds, which temporarily store water and eventually empty out to streams.  Infiltration They have reduced settling capacity than retention ponds.


  • Infiltration ponds, which direct storm water to groundwater through permeable soils.  They have the greatest sediment removal since there is no surface outlet and may have landscaping features like rain gardens that assist in sediment removal.



Benefits of storm water ponds

A well-planned, well-designed pond is engineered to mitigate flood surges and reduce pollutants, but it should be designed to do a whole lot more. To do so requires considering water quality, water level and bounce, event frequency, inlets/outlets, plantings and aesthetics, side slopes and drainage and erosion control.


Our work at Rendezvous Park is an example of a multifaceted storm water retention pond –meaning this pond can be used for recreation, like sand volleyball, but also has natural elements, like native plantings. Moore Engineering also designed the Shadow Wood inner connected storm water pond system to incorporate it into the surrounding community.

Properly designed, landscaped and maintained ponds provide residents with an attractive water feature that can be used for recreation and add property value. Amenities can include waterfalls, beaches, docks, paths, bridges and parks. Ponds should also serve as a natural habitat for plants and wildlife and should be incorporated into the surrounding environments that they serve.

Pond misconceptions

Misconception #1: They’re a haven for mosquitoes.

Reality: Avoiding shallow water areas will greatly reduce the proliferation of mosquitoes.  We also create water movement with bubbler systems, waterfalls and increased fetches in our designs.

Misconception #2: They’re full of bacteria and algae.

Reality: We incorporate bubbler systems which keeps algae and bacteria to a minimum. In addition, putting the right type of plants on the shoreline will filter contaminants that come in through the storm water system. Further, other filtration systems are incredibly beneficial, but aren’t common in North Dakota simply because there are no water quality standards as of yet.

Misconception #3: They’re dangerous for pets and people.

Misconception1Reality: Storm water ponds will behave similar to a natural lake if they are implemented correctly. People understand and respect lakes, their elevation swings and the varying water levels, so if we incorporate storm water ponds into the environment in a similar way, people know what to expect. To further foster safety, we design shorelines with benches so people have an expectation of depth and to keep the shoreline shallower as with a natural lake.

We also design these with water level fluctuation in mind, knowing that we want to avoid excessive depth or a pond that fills or rises dramatically in a short period of time.

An amenity, not just part of Infrastructure

good example of pondThese are examples of what ponds can be, if they are properly planned, designed, executed and maintained, with clearly defined expectations. And if we start thinking about storm water ponds not as a necessary part of infrastructure and a hazard, but as an environmental feature that can be integrated into the natural habitat to improve our communities and quality of life.

Does this sound like the future you want for your community? Let’s talk.

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A Change in Flow

MRWA Recap: Three takeaways from the Minnesota’s Rural Water Association conference

By: Steve Ahlschlager

The Minnesota Rural Water Association put on another great conference this year – sharing some of the latest news pertaining to wells, sampling and technology at the user’s level.

Here are three stand-out takeaways from the conference.

1.)    The Minnesota Department of Health changed the sample submittMRWA_Coveral regulations.  Minnesota has officially joined every other state in the regulation for the time span between sample collection and when it needs to get to the lab.  Minnesota previously allowed 48 hours. The new regulation allows 24 hours.

While this is nothing major for bigger cities, smaller communities will need to adjust the processes to be sure samples are received on time. This is especially true with the way our mail system has changed. The Department of Health is recommending personally delivering samples to the lab or sending BAC-T samples via FedEx or UPS to ensure tighter control.

2.)    The Department of Health has put together pilot plant equipment, almost fully volunteer supported, to test and study ammonia reduction. They are also evaluating a technology currently being used in Canada, Europe and one city in Minnesota. The focus and effort to better understand new technologies in our region’s water treatment industry is ambitious and impressive.

3.)    Smart well field technology was another strong topic at the conference. Moore Engineering uses the latest technology in this field to remotely monitor a well in Cooperstown, North Dakota, from our office in West Fargo. The monitoring and controlling allows enhanced water production from new and existing water sources. The technology allows for quicker recognition and diagnosis of problems, saving the well owner time and money.

Steve Ahlschlager is the senior technical advisor at Moore Engineering, Inc.

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Planning and zoning are critical to managing growth in ND

North Dakota has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years. A booming oil business has increased our population and transformed the landscape, and not only in the west. The entire state has felt the impact and reaped the benefits.

At the same time, rapid growth brings challenges, especially for cities, counties and townships. How to address these challenges is a hot topic in North Dakota. Following are just some of the questions discussed at the North Dakota Association of County Engineers annual meeting we recently attended in Bismarck:

  • Who’s responsible for providing new services, facilities and infrastructure?
  • Who determines how they’re paid for?
  • Are ordinances and regulations in place to preserve property values and ensure appropriate land use and environmental protections?
  • Are they enforceable?
  • What happens when we have to deal with incomplete infrastructure?
  • How do we manage growth to ensure future stability and sustainability?

Are you prepared for growth?

While most North Dakota counties and larger cities are updating ordinances and zoning regulations as a result of the boom, the same isn’t necessarily true in smaller municipalities, counties and townships. Some areas haven’t seen a lot of growth yet, but we need to be prepared for whatever may happen. Putting rules and regulations in place is a good idea anytime. It’s especially important when we see the kind of change North Dakota is experiencing. Forward-looking planning and zoning regulations, for instance, can help you avoid some big headaches in old and new areas.

Moore Engineering can help

As long-time community partners with cities, counties, and townships, large and small, we work side-by-side with planners, engineers and city officials to help them deal with the present, address infill development and plan for future land and site development – residential, commercial and industrial. That includes performing planning and zoning reviews and administrative assistance. Working with our partners, we help develop reasonable agreements, codes and ordinances with teeth to protect your assets.

We also consider all the components in helping you envision what you want your community to be – aesthetics, safety and effective traffic flow, storm water management, continuity with existing adjacent site constraints and ADA requirements. Our aim is to guide you through growth that results in not only successful development in the present, but sustainable communities into the future.

Are you ready to grow? Do you have the right rules in place? Let’s talk.

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Moore employees spur $12,000 donation to Minot domestic violence center

Moore’s annual employee holiday party includes a silent auction that benefits a selected charity. This year’s recipient was Minot’s Domestic Violence Crisis Center. Employees contribute to the cause at the party and the company matches the amount.

Yesterday, employees from our Minot office delivered a $12,000 donation to the crisis center.

“We’re so pleased to be able to help an organization that plays such a vital role in this community, providing comfort, care and security for those in need,” said Brock Storrusten, our Minot office branch manager.

Minot’s KMOT-TV posted a story about the presentation:


DVCC Receives Big Donation

By: Rene Thibault

Posted: Thu 10:52 PM, Jan 08, 2015

The holidays may be over, but one local company was still in a giving spirit Thursday afternoon.

Moore Engineering, an employee-owned civil engineering and land survey company, has donated more than $12,000 to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center.

Moore employees raised the money at their annual holiday gathering and the company then matched the amount to bring it to over 12 thousand.

“It’s really nice when community members come and say, ‘We want to do something for you,’ because it means they appreciate what we’re doing, what we’re trying to do for our community,” said Dena Filler, executive director of the DVCC. “We’re here to serve the community and to make it a safe place for everyone.”

“It’s important to keep our community strong, that’s what we’re about,” said Brock Storrusten, Moore branch manager. “We’re about communities, and part of our mantra is: we want to make things better. Our goal is whether its sustainable communities or the people that live within them, I think trying to make things better is important. And trying to ask and expecting for more from the community is important.”

As a non-profit organization, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center relies on donations. And if you’d like to give back to the DVCC, visit their website www.Courage4Change.org.

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Moore glows in Fargo’s Holiday Lights Parade 2014

It’s the holiday season again – which means it’s time for the Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade!

At Moore, the parade is a company tradition to kick off the holiday season. In fact, we’ve been participating in the Holiday Lights Parade for nine years. As a community-oriented company, we like to promote local businesses, a thriving downtown and giving back to the community. The parade is the perfect way to do that – and it’s also wonderful to see the growing numbers of participants and spectators.

This year’s parade was last night, Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

 A challenge to top 2013

As chair of the 12-person parade committee, I coordinate our team in developing, designing and constructing Moore’s float. Our committee started planning for the parade at the beginning of October, as soon as the theme was released, and it has been a consistent push since then.

The biggest challenge every year is to outdo ourselves from the past parades. (Remember our gingerbread house last year?) But it’s a challenge our parade committee gladly accepts.

Creating the float

During the construction phase, we met about twice a week after work in our survey garage to create the float. All said and done, between the meetings, coordinating and construction, the committee and other employee volunteers will have spent more than 300 hours preparing for the parade.

The week prior to the event, our friends at Pro Landscapers allow us to use their large facility to assemble the float with everything we’ve built over the past couple of months. They even let us use their large trailer, the foundation for the float every year.

“Winter Nights, Holiday Lights”

The theme of this year’s parade was “Winter Nights, Holiday Lights.” Our float was a hit at the parade, with many children screaming, “They’re having a snowball fight on their float!” as we cruised by. It was cool when the “snowballs” (soft, fuzzy and lighted) escaped from the trailer and parade goers helped us retrieve them. (The kids were sometimes disappointed to give them up.) We’ve noticed the crowd really enjoyed our previous interactive floats, so we were excited to give them that element again this year.


At Moore, we strive to be innovative with every project, while giving our clients and the general public that “wow factor.” The same goes for our parade float; we seek to incite the “wow factor” for parade goers.

We hope you made it to the parade. It was a lot of fun. If you couldn’t be there, stop by the Holiday Lights in Lindenwood Park. A variation of our float will be on display there beginning November 29 through the month of December. Happy holidays from all of us at Moore Engineering!

Matt Welle is a professional engineer at Moore Engineering’s West Fargo office and head of the parade committee. His favorite part of the Holiday Lights Parade is seeing his coworkers’ talents and creativity come together, combined with the community’s happy – and hopefully impressed – faces during the parade.

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