Changing perspectives about storm water ponds

By: Brock Storrusten

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.

 

Design

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.

Rendezvous


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.

20141125_185402

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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Come see us at annual water meetings

Protecting, developing and managing water is always a topic for discussion in North Dakota, Minnesota and the surrounding region – but the conversation ramps up considerably in the next couple of months as water officials, staff and partners gather for annual conferences to learn and share information and expertise.

Here’s what’s coming up and where we’ll be:

Dec. 4-6, 2014

Arrowwood Conference Center, Alexandria, Minn.

Booth 700

Dec. 3-5, 2014

Best Western Ramkota Hotel, Bismarck, N.D.

Join us for drinks, food and conversation in our hospitality room.

Jan. 20-22, 2015

Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Whether you’re a current client or just want to know more about Moore Engineering’s extensive experience in surface and watershed management, please stop by. Meet our staff. Talk to some experts. We’ll also have company information and projects on display.

Upper Maple River Dam

IMAGE:  Upper Maple River Dam Preliminary Design

One topic we look forward to discussing with conference attendees is the Upper Maple River Dam Project, a floodwater impoundment project developed by Moore Engineering in conjunction with the Maple-Steele Joint Water Resource District, and planned for construction in 2015. Learn how we advanced the project from an idea to reality. We will share our techniques for efficient permitting, public outreach, securing funds and project design.

Learn about the Red River Watershed distributed detention strategy at our Winnipeg presentation

Moore Engineering participated in a recent Red River Basin Commission study that shows flood impoundment projects built for local benefit will simultaneously reduce flood flows on the Red River. In fact, if enough flood storage is constructed, the 100-year Red River flood can be reduced by 20 percent.

Chad Engels will be presenting on this topic on Thursday, Jan. 22, and we invite you to attend to find out more about this effort and how the Red River Basin Commission is supporting water resource districts and watershed districts in their efforts to reduce local flooding.

We’ll also have a booth in Winnipeg, so be sure to stop in and see us. We’re excited to talk about water issues, and hope to see you soon at one of these events!

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8 Takeaways from Moore presenters at the MN GIS/LIS Conference

Did you learn a lot at the 2014 Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference? We always do.

We also had an opportunity to present two sessions: one on converting West Fargo’s mapping from CAD to GIS, and another on using ESRI’s ARCPy to replace an archaic file structure. Both illustrated how Moore Engineering uses GIS to help decision-makers more easily see, analyze and use data.

Here are some takeaways, if you missed us, or want a brief recap.

Gretchen’s tips on CAD to GIS conversion:

  1. Be passionate and persistent in educating peers, clients and others about the benefits of conversion – it will pay off in the end.
  2. Communicate the rewards: efficiency, utility, and usability.
  3. Maintaining data integrity during the conversion can be difficult when programs don’t recognize certain file formats. We found using other programs helps keep the files more intact and makes the data structure more stable for future analysis.
  4. Map design is important and there’s a lot of psychology involved. Keep your audiences in mind when making maps. Choose shapes, color associations and size of your text to suit them.

The best result: The snowball effect. Conversion opens the door to all kinds of exciting possibilities as people interact with their maps and imagine what else they might do.

Tom’s tips on using Python to quickly bring non-GIS users on board:

  1. We used the Python language to help non-GIS people (mostly engineers) get into GIS and perform complicated repetitive analysis through custom scripts.
  2. Starting with file migration, we worked with engineers to create a much more organized system where project files could be found quickly and easily.
  3. In phase two, we generated custom tools for Moore engineers to use in working with clients, and are creating a custom intranet interactive web map. These tools not only improve efficiency, they help empower non-GIS users.
  4. Because Python works on many different platforms, we’ll be able to do a lot more with it in the future – on mobile, the Internet, servers and more.

The best result: Looking at a map that provides a visual representation of information in a couple of seconds, as opposed to searching for and reading though mountains of text documents.

Get more details from Gretchen’s presentation and Tom’s presentation.

Interested in knowing more about these projects or how Moore Engineering uses GIS to help our clients? Let’s talk.

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Come See Us at the ND Water & Pollution Control Conference

shutterstock_214772677Next week marks the beginning of the ND Water & Pollution Control Conference – an event my team at Moore Engineering and I look forward to all year.

ND Water & Pollution Control Conference
Wed. Oct. 14 – Fri. Oct. 16
Holiday Inn | Fargo, ND (map it)

This year’s event is especially significant to Moore Engineering, because Dean Sletten, one of our senior project engineers in our environmental group, is the president for the conference.

Visit us at booths 63 and 64.

Whether you’re a current client or just an attendee browsing the exhibit hall, we hope you’ll stop by our booths (63 and 64) to say hi. We’ll have company information and projects on display, and of course, some pretty amazing tchotchkes (giveaways). This is also a great chance to meet some of our staff.

Come to our presentations.

Two of our water and wastewater specialists – Steve Ahlschlager and Brock Storrusten – are giving presentations during the technical sessions. The presentations below are great opportunities to hear from our experts in person:

Uncovering the Myths, Mayhem, and Magic of Storm Water Retention Ponds
Tues, Oct. 14, 4pm
Directors and Conference Rooms of Harvest Hall (Session C)

Brock, branch manager of Moore Engineering’s Minot location, will give a colorful and informative presentation on the design, operation and maintenance of storm water retention ponds. Attendees will learn the differences between wet (retention) and dry (detention) ponds along with the importance of ownership, defining of expectations for all parties, and dispelling myths associated with the perceptions and locations of ponds.

A 25-year industry veteran, Brock is viewed as a trusted advisor to city councils, water resource boards, developers and executives. He served as assistant city engineer for West Fargo during the city’s growth and expansion and also been a member of planning and zoning boards and committees. Brock earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from North Dakota State University. 

Water Treatment Operation Challenges Overcome
Thurs, Oct. 16, 11am
Dakota Hall (Session A)

Steve, a senior project engineer at Moore Engineering, will speak with a panel of others about the day-to-day need for membrane system performance evaluation.

Steven has nearly 40 years of experience in academic and corporate research, process development/design, project engineering, process plant operations/training as well as data acquisition system design and management of regulatory reporting. His process exposure has been in the metallurgical, chemical, water treatment and pollution control industries. Steve graduated with his master’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Download the full conference program.

Join us for drinks, food and conversation.

We’re also hosting a Moore Engineering reception at Fargo Billiards and Gastropub on Tuesday night from 5 to 9pm. This gathering is open to everyone. If you plan on coming, please RSVP: gkizima@mooreengineeringinc.com or 701.551.1054

We hope to see you in Fargo!

Kent Ritterman is Moore Engineering’s environmental engineering manager, based out of the West Fargo office.

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Are you making the most of GIS in your community?

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology offers communities substantial benefits.

Much more than a map, GIS is a highly effective, interactive tool that provides layers of up-to-date information quickly and efficiently so city planners and leaders can better manage their infrastructure projects and make more informed decisions.

At Moore Engineering, we help our clients leverage the power of GIS in a variety of ways – from improving maintenance schedules to choosing sites, to keeping records and more.

Hear from our experts in person

I invite you to get more in-depth insight into just how we use GIS to help clients, by attending presentations by two Moore Engineering GIS specialists – Gretchen Gottsacker and Tom Sayward – at the Minnesota GIS Annual Conference and Workshops in Rochester, Oct. 1-3.

Here’s a little bit about them and what you’ll learn in each session:

  • “West Fargo, North Dakota, CAD to GIS Conversion”

Gretchen will walk you through the conversion of West Fargo’s mapping from CAD to GIS, which included replacing utilities, parcels and subdivisions with updated GIS information. You’ll see how the conversion increased efficiency and future potential, and created functionality and legibility of the city’s special information. The project, says Gretchen, was a true cartographer’s dream that incorporated both the art and science of the geography around the city.

Utility_Database

Gretchen has a degree in GIS, cartography and human geography, with a minor emphasis in GIS and spatial analysis from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. She covers a range of analyses and data management at Moore Engineering, focusing on municipal, environmental and water resources mapping.

  • “Using Python to help non-GIS users rapidly gain familiarity with ArcGIS”

Tom will outline how, through a rapid increase in GIS utilization, an archaic file structure was replaced with an organized, more user-friendly and efficient design. A three-phase, multi-tier plan, the first phase focused on file migration. Phase two generated custom applications or tools for Moore engineers to use in working with clients (a custom stand-alone program outside of ArcMap), with plans for an interactive custom web map on the internet to improve efficiency and educate others on how to leverage the power of GIS.

Tom earned degrees in geography and forestry and completed the GIS certificate program from the University of Idaho. He has five years of programming experience. At Moore Engineering, he’s used Python to integrate raw HECRAS data with ARC-GIS to determine storage area floodwater flow direction, as well as calculation of how long a flooded area will be inundated.

We hope to see you in Rochester!

To learn more how about how Moore helps cities leverage the power of GIS, stop by and see me and our other GIS specialists at booth #16 at the Minnesota GIS Annual Conference and Workshops in Rochester Oct. 1-3. Questions?

 

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Moore again selected for PSMJ’s Circle of Excellence

For the second consecutive year, Moore Engineering was selected by PSMJ Resources, Inc., for its Circle of Excellence. Nationwide, only 63 firms made the exclusive list in 2014.

PSMJ’s Circle of Excellence highlights firms that are well-managed, based on key performance metrics that demonstrate outstanding achievements, including cash flow, productivity, business development, overhead management and staff retention. The Circle of Excellence represents the top 20 percent of participants in PSMJ’s annual Architecture and Engineering Performance Benchmark Survey.

“We are honored that PSMJ selected our company for the second year in a row,” said Jeffry Volk, Moore Engineering president and CEO. “It is a tribute to our employees, and affirms they are among the best in the nation.”

“As an employee-owned company, we are committed to sustainable business practices that create value for our company and our clients. We take great pride in doing things right and doing the right things,” added Volk. “In the end, it’s all about building great communities.”

About PSMJ

For 40 years, PSMJ Resources, Inc., has been recognized as the world’s leading authority, publisher and consultant on the effective management of architecture, engineering and construction firms. With offices in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Australia, PSMJ offers over 150 titles in book, audio and video format. To learn more about PSMJ, visit www.psmj.com.

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