Consulting & Engineering: Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience

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AECOM for supporting the City of Miami Beach with adaptation and resilience planning to protect its built environment from rising sea levels and increased flooding. Targeted to Miami's Flood Mitigation and Infrastructure Improvement plan, AECOM researched the feasibility of increasing building floor elevations in a study titled "Adaptation Strategies to Combat Sea Level Rise."

AECOM identified revisions needed to the City's building, zoning, and land development regulations to provide greater resilience; policy changes and development of implementation guidelines; and recommend actions and adaptation strategies. AECOM also facilitated stakeholder engagement. In 2016, many ordinances were updated by the City Commission, including definition of freeboard elevations above the city's base flood elevation, setting seawall minimum heights, increases in minimum yard elevations, and changes in building setbacks. Other strategies are under discussion.

Arcadis for its post-Sandy Coney Island Creek Resiliency Study. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, Coney Island was one of the communities to suffer the worst damage. In anticipation of storm events, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency commissioned Arcadis to prepare the study and develop recommendations for improved flood protection that minimize environmental impact, improve water quality and enhance community recreation while mitigating the dangers posed by storms and rising sea level.

Arcadis's proposed measures included an in-water tidal barrier to maintain tidal flow, water quality and circulation; fostering ecological diversity through habitat-enhanced bulkhead designs, natural storm water treatments and wetlands restoration; enhancing waterfront and harbor views with elevated trails; and enhancing connectivity between neighborhoods with walking berms that cross the creek.

CH2M for its Tacoma Flood Protection project for the City of Tacoma's Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. Currently protected from routine flooding by a series of levees, the plant is at increased risk from flooding due to possible failure or overtopping of the levee system upstream. The plant has had close calls in the past, including 2009 water levels in the Puyallup River so high that emergency sandbagging operations were employed to protect the plant.

To mitigate this risk, the City and CH2M worked together to provide flood protection by designing a 2,500-foot-long floodwall, including automatic gates at vehicle entrances, and an emergency pump station inside the plant. The floodwall also protects against groundwater intrusion by extending up to 25 feet below ground. The plant treats 30 MGD during wet weather and up to 130 MGD during storm events. In August 2016, the American Public Works Assn. selected the project as one of its 2016 Public Works Projects of the Year in the Disaster/Emergency Preparedness category.

R.V. Anderson for championing asset management and resiliency in its work with Canadian local governments and infrastructure managers. A mid-sized firm with about 250 employees, the firm supported development more than 10 years ago of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) climate risk management methodology by Engineers Canada, the leading professional engineers group in Canada. In 2016 one of R.V. Anderson's senior executives became one of the first engineers to be certified as an Infrastructure Resilience Professional by Engineers Canada.

R.V. Anderson also seeks to integrate the Lean Six Sigma approach to process optimization into public sector asset management. Rare in the public sector, this value-engineering approach has allowed at least one R.V. Anderson client, Fredericton, New Brunswick, to save approximately $1.5 million annually, according to the firm. R.V. Anderson expects the market for public sector asset management consulting to grow quickly over the next few years in Canada as a new federal policy will require such plans for local governments to continue receiving a share of revenues from the federal excise (sales) tax on gasoline.

Woodard & Curran for providing a critical mix of hazard mitigation, climate change and energy consulting to help local governments and institutions develop comprehensive resiliency plans and, in many cases, help secure the funding expertise needed to fulfill those plans. In 2016, the firm completed a comprehensive climate assessment of Rhode Island's 19 wastewater treatment facilities. The work included user-friendly briefs for each facility with adaptive strategies and cost estimates. At the end of the year, the firm was preparing environmental assessments for some of the projects.

Woodard & Curran also continued to help the City of Salem, Mass., by securing a Coastal Protection Grant from the Dam and Seawall Program at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The grant will fund 75% of the $200,000 cost to design and permit the replacement of an approximately 60-year-old deteriorating concrete seawall.

Also in 2016, the firm completed a Multi-Campus Hazard Mitigation Plan for all 17 Connecticut State Colleges & Universities campuses. Woodard & Curran helped CSCU fund its mitigation plans with $950,000 from the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-the federal agency's only hazard mitigation program that accepts proposals from colleges and universities. This year, with $1 million from the same FEMA grant program, Woodard & Curran helped the University of Massachusetts system improve its response to natural threats through the purchase of emergency generators. This project grew out of the multi-campus hazard mitigation plan the firm completed for UMass, which was approved by FEMA and MEMA in 2016.