Launch Slideshow

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Multipurpose solutions are on the rise

Multipurpose solutions are on the rise

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    A new face at the top:Although public works departments continue to retain architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms largely for road and water projects, nearly a third are now turning to those same firms for landscape architecture/park design. Source PUBLIC WORKS

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    South Florida Water Management District contributed $12.3 million toward buying the land, design, and construction of Freedom Park; the Florida Communities Trust provided $6 million for construction. Collier County property taxes funded the remaining $13.2 million. Photos: CH2M Hill

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    Early rebound:Use of AEC firms has rebounded slightly despite the continued decline in property and sales tax revenues. Source PUBLIC WORKS

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    Does your department plan on using an AEC firm within the next six months?“We're seeing that the decision to move forward [on projects] is contingent on getting matching funding,” says Mark Bridgers, a principal at FMI Corp. Source PUBLIC WORKS

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    For which services did you use AEC firms in 2009?“We've developed an on-call list of consultants for smaller projects,” says a respondent from a special district in the Rocky Mountains serves 100,001 to 250,000 people. Source PUBLIC WORKS

FUNDING FORMULAS INCREASINGLY REQUIRE NATURAL SOLUTIONS

Since 1987, Section 319 of the Clean Water Act has made more than $20 million in grants available to communities for establishing best management practices (BMPs) to reduce nonpoint sources of water pollution. As part of EPA's mandate to satisfy all Clean Water Act requirements, the federal government is urging infrastructure managers to explore “green” ways of removing pollutants from stormwater to the “maximum extent allowable.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) added $2 billion to last year's $829 million federal allocation for Drinking Water state revolving loans, and the Clean Water loan program caught a windfall of $4 billion on top of its $689 million allocation — a three-fold increase in just one year. The legislation's requirement that states award at least 20% to projects that promote energy efficiency, water efficiency, green infrastructure, and environmental innovation is now standard operating procedure.

Washington State allocated $13.6 million of its $65.4 million Clean Water allocation to “green reserve” projects like the 10-acre Yauger Park project in Olympia, which began in May. The design provides enhanced treatment for 840 acre-feet of runoff annually through bioretention ponds, biofiltration swales, a 5,000-square-foot rain garden, and water harvesting for park irrigation. Residents who use the park's picnic areas, nature trails, and athletic fields will be largely unaware of the natural cleansing processes taking place around them.

Yet stormwater treatment need not take place on such a large scale to be effective.

At least one survey respondent incorporated BMPs into rehabilitation and replacement projects. The Chelsea Department of Public Works in Massachusetts included tree pits in the design of a sanitary sewer separation that involved road and sidewalk assets.

We suspect this is becoming increasingly common.

In April, EPA announced that it would be making up to $600,000 per grant available for urban watersheds. The agency has requested $5.5 million in grant funds in the FY 2011 budget request under the Community Water Priorities program to focus resources on water quality protection efforts in urban waters.

NATURE IS OFTEN THE FOUNDATION OF REDEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

Downtown revitalizations require treating stormwater in an otherwise impervious canyon of concrete and steel, a challenge that Detroit's award-winning Campus Martius Park (see page 18) and Florida's Vilano Beach (see page 40) successfully met with projects designed to bring residents, businesses, and tourists back into the city.

Instead of a retention pond, Bernalillo County in New Mexico (see page 36) used a park to manage excess stormwater from one of two subdivisions. Designing the solution, a process that relied heavily on input from residents of both developments, also healed a rift that had formed between the two.

“Stormwater collection and treatment systems don't simply have to be a basin with a fence around it any more; they can be multiuse,” CH2M Hill's Bays concludes.

Click here for a list of 2010's Top AEC firms


Need to find a firm to complete one of your projects?

To help you get started, the editors of PUBLIC WORKS have compiled a list of leading AEC firms that do work in the public sector. To qualify for the list, participating firms provided company data, revenue, project details, and areas of expertise in an exclusive survey. See the next page.


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