HW Planners Support Documentation and Essential Utility Functions During a Pandemic

The Horsley Witten team of experienced emergency preparedness planners are actively supporting COVID-19 response remotely in our nation’s capital by working with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) Incident Management Team. 

DC Water distributes drinking water and collects and treats wastewater for more than 672,000 residents and 17.8 million annual visitors (during a normal year) in the District of Columbia.  DC Water also provides wholesale wastewater treatment services for 1.6 million people in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia.  As critical infrastructure and a key resource, DC Water continues to operate 24/7 providing drinking water and wastewater services to residents and businesses as well as federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. 

HW’s emergency preparedness staff are well versed in both the National Incident Management and Incident Command Systems and participate remotely in daily COVID-19 planning and operations meetings held by DC Water’s Office of Emergency Management. The planners assist the Authority’s Incident Management Team pandemic response through the development of comprehensive Incident Action Plans (IAP). 

The IAP is a tool used to manage DC Water’s common operating picture during this pandemic and to keep workers safe while executing their mission and essential functions.  HW has worked closely with DC Water for many years and is proud to help during this unprecedented time in our country. 
Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

 

HW’s Carbon Footprint & Offsets

Mark Nelson, P.G., Principal

Mark has led water resource protection projects for the last 35 years with clients across the country focusing on protecting drinking water supplies, freshwater lakes and ponds, and coastal estuaries.  He has also helped clean up numerous sites contaminated with hazardous materials and led training workshops for local officials on protecting their water resources.  Mark is currently leading our efforts to calculate, minimize and offset the firm’s carbon footprint.


The Horsley Witten Group has decided to become carbon neutral!  We would like to share the process we are using to calculate our carbon footprint, the steps we’ve taken to reduce our impact, and the options we are considering for offsetting what we can’t prevent.  We would like to hear from you and welcome your ideas to help us refine this evaluation over time.  Have you tried this for your home or business?  Do you have suggestions for what works well?

In our 32 years, HW has developed and supported a variety of environmental programs and goals. This work began with dozens of states and local communities by mapping where their drinking water came from and then developing regulations and plans to protect these water supplies.  We have also supported open space purchases, retrofits for numerous stormwater outfalls, planning to improve coastal estuaries, assessments, and cleanups of contaminated sites, and work with local communities on comprehensive plans. 

Recently, we were certified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to help communities plan for climate impacts through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program.  To date, we have helped nine communities plan and adapt to climate change and are currently working with many of them to implement the action items developed in the planning process. Our MVP planning work has helped our client communities leverage over $1.5 million in MVP grants. 

Our environmental work, though positive, has a measurable impact on our climate. This is true even though we purchase the majority of our electricity (for power, heat, and AC) from renewable sources.  As an example, in 2019 our staff traveled over 300,000 miles by plane, and about the same distance in our cars to work on projects across the U.S.  We’ve decided to quantify this footprint and look for ways to offset it, hopefully through local opportunities.

You can check out the initial calculation of our carbon footprint above.  It is based on 2019 data and shows the firm released approximately 250 tons of carbon to the atmosphere over the last year. This is roughly the equivalent of 4-5 typical households.  Over the next few months, we’ll share how we developed these calculations, discuss our work to reduce our footprint, and evaluate the options we are considering to offset our carbon pollution. 

There are many calculators available to quantify a carbon footprint and many ways to offset one’s emissions.  We look forward to a productive discussion on how we can do this as we work together with staff and other organizations towards a cooler and safer planet for our generation and those generations that follow.   You may contact Mark directly at mnelson@horsleywitten.com.

Click here for an informative video by Mark. This is the first in a series of blog posts and videos about HW’s carbon footprint reductions.  We look forward to sharing what we are learning and doing!

 

steve stanish, p.e., CFM, ENV SP

Project Engineer

Steve Stanish has joined our Boston office as a project engineer with a background in both the public and private sectors. Steve received his Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois -Chicago and his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He joins HW with 11+ years of experience specializing in stormwater management design and is a certified engineer in several states, a certified flood plain manager, and an Envision Sustainability Professional in MA. He also has experience in transportation engineering and design.

In his spare time, he is currently renovating his home which he has described as HGTV outtakes! Steve also is an avid ultimate frisbee player, homebrewer, and woodworker. When not traveling for frisbee tournaments on the weekends, he is typically in Boston working on brewing new beers or building furniture for his home.

 

janelle veary

Designer

Janelle Veary has joined our Sandwich team as a Designer focused on site design and stormwater management. Janelle earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Technology from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University.  She comes to us with two years of professional experience as an Integrated Water Engineer in Australia. Janelle will be supporting our project managers with CAD operations and a range of civil engineering and environmental assessments including site design and drainage. Janelle enjoys spending time camping, hiking, and cooking. Welcome to HW Janelle!

 

HW news

March 17, 2020

To our valued clients, partners, and friends:

 We hope this finds you well in these difficult times. In order to protect the health of our employees and clients, Horsley Witten Group, Inc. (HW) is implementing the following policies:

  • Our office is open for business and project work is continuing but most of our staff are working remotely. HW staff has access to remote work capabilities and this transition will not impact our work with our clients, consultants, and contractors. We have the ability to host and participate in online conference calls and meetings.  
  • We are proceeding with fieldwork and site visits on a case by case basis and are practicing safe social distancing in the field. At this point, it appears that most fieldwork can safely proceed. HW staff will bring all required survey equipment and field tools as needed. All equipment and tools will be wiped down with disinfectant after use. HW staff will follow CDC and state protocols and fieldwork will be canceled if official guidance indicates this is warranted.

We will continue to reevaluate our plan as information and guidance become available in this quickly changing situation. Please feel free to reach out to any of our staff by email or phone if you have questions.

Best Regards,
HW Board of Directors
Rich Claytor, Jane Estey, Nate Kelly, Anne Kitchell, Mark Nelson, Thomas Noble

 

Saipan, CNMI

Meet: Josephine Ibanez

Brian A. Laverriere, Project Designer

Josephine is an environmental scientist specializing in water resource management, water quality monitoring, and site remediation.  Jo’s passions include exploring new areas (both geographically and scientifically), helping communities understand their local water quality challenges, and developing water resource management strategies.

Last month, Jo and I had the opportunity to travel to Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Our team mapped drainage infrastructure, assessed sources of pollution, and identified key opportunities for restoration within the Achugao, Garapan, and Lao Lao Bay Watersheds. 

The trip was awesome for so many reasons.  Jo reminded me every day that what we do is significant – but who we work with is equally as important– and most important of all is the health, safety, and welfare of people. This was my first time working closely with Jo; hearing her perspective reminded me of how critical our development decisions are in 2020 and that our purpose in Saipan is larger than ourselves.

We inventoried age-old infrastructure from WWII, observed active construction today, and saw evidence of our future demand on the land.  Jo made me think: what will happen to these natural waterways we’re mapping?  Will they vanish inside of a pipe?  Or can we integrate these natural resources and sustain the natural identity of Saipan?  While abroad, we talked with residents who told stories from decade ago, collaborated with consultants who shared our same concerns, and met with federal agencies to ensure our decision-making process fit the priorities of the people and the place.

Project Summary:

All three watersheds are impaired, exceeding one or more CNMI water quality standards.  Five HW’ers traveled to Saipan to assess each watershed and to identify solutions for land-based sources of pollution.  Our project team consists of environmental scientists, civil engineers, planners, and landscape architects.  Sponsored by NOAA and the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, we worked closely with Koa Consulting LLC, Sea Change Consulting, and The Nature Conservancy to engage local agencies and organizations. We collected field data and mapped drainage infrastructure linking flow-patterns with key opportunities to improve water quality.  Our field teams and workshop facilitators gathered hundreds of data points; produced dozens of restoration concepts; and identified watershed management priorities, challenges, and visions.

Over the coming months, we will draft watershed management plans to integrate different stakeholder’s priorities (e.g., on-going capital improvements, restoration efforts, road upgrades) to balance economic growth with environmental integrity.  Based upon our field assessment, the community engagement process, and stakeholder listening sessions, we will prioritize potential solutions to mitigate future development, restore degraded landscapes, and manage contributing drainage areas.  As a result of this work, we hope federal and local agencies can implement these watershed solutions to one-day meet the CNMI water quality standards.

HW Project Team:

Brian A. Laverriere, Project Designer
Josephine Ibanez, Environmental Scientist
Eliza Hoffman, Staff Engineer
Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA, Principal Landscape Architect
Anne Kitchell, Senior Watershed Planner

Project Partners:

The Nature Conservancy-Micronesia
-Berna Gorong 
Sea Change Consulting
-Meghan Gombos
KOA Consulting LLC
-Becky Skeele & Rob Jordan
Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality
-James Benavente

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
-Robbie Greene


Read about this project in the Saipan Tribune

 

Nicole spink colborn

Preparedness Planner

Nicole Spink Colborn has joined our training team as a Preparedness Planner. Nicole earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Occupational Management from Methodist University in North Carolina. She is pursuing a Master of Public Administration, Disaster Management degree from Liberty University in Virginia. 

Nicole comes to HW with five years professional experience from DC Water and Sewer Authority, Washington, D.C. Her experience at the Office of Emergency Management will help our clients as we facilitate events and projects for DC Water and The US EPA. Nicole will be supporting our Emergency Preparedness team with facilitating workshops across the country and developing emergency response and preparedness materials.

Nicole enjoys spending time hiking with her Golden Retriever and Australian Shepherd. You can find her anywhere outside especially in the mountains or at the beach. Welcome to HW Nicole!

 

Journey to the south Pacific, American Samoa

Geoff Glover, Staff Engineer

Geoff has four + years of professional experience as a civil/environmental engineer specializing in stormwater management, site design, grading and drainage systems, and hydraulic/hydrologic modeling. Geoff works on a variety of projects in New England and the Virgin Islands. This was his first trip to American Samoa!

 

“American Samoa, and the entire Samoan Archipelago, is such a unique and enchanting yet fragile place in the world, environmental protection needs to be a priority here…”

Talofa! (hello)!
7,641 miles, 18 hours, and 5 inflight meals. Getting anywhere in the South Pacific takes a bit of planning, whilst traveling back in time and sleeping at a 60-degree angle for as long as you can. In this case, I am headed to the main island (Tutuila) of the United States’ southernmost inhabited territory of American Samoa, a 50-square mile rugged volcanic land mass located 18 degrees south of the equator. 

Project Goal
The goal was to to educate and inform contractors and local agencies about the impacts of soil erosion that occurs during land development and how to prevent sediment traveling from a construction site to the ocean.

American Samoan islands, like many islands in the Pacific, are mostly surrounded by fringing coral reefs that protect the shorelines from wave energy that is constantly stirring in the vast blue void covering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. These reefs are vital for the longevity of coastal Samoan communities and their island history that has developed over the past millennia. Unfortunately, they are also extremely vulnerable to land-based sources of pollution like sediment from construction sites.

Arrival
Stepping out of the customs checkpoint at Pago Pago International Airport, I could immediately tell we weren’t in Kansas (Cape Cod) anymore. First of all, we were outdoors and immediately sweating and secondly, there seemed to be a large welcoming committee for the incoming travelers. With the only flights to and from the US on Monday and Thursday evenings, and the long distance from the mainland, the airport becomes a great place for impromptu reunion or farewell parties for many locals. But there we were, four pālagis (pronounced pah-lon-gee – native word for foreigner) navigating their way through the many Samoan families. Despite having just endured the experience of traveling halfway across the world with my head full of new information, there was still room for a couple of Vailimas (a local beer) before turning in for the first night.

Let’s Get to Work!

Over the next four days, we immersed ourselves in island culture and traditions, identifying locations of active construction sites scattered about the island, and engaging in MANY conversations – the main topic – soil erosion and the importance of sediment control.

We presented to a group of 20 local contractors from several different construction companies on island. While they were extremely knowledgeable about construction techniques on their island, engineering & problem solving, and typical sequencing of day-to-day construction activities – there was a lack of awareness of how best to both minimize erosion and control the amount of sediment leaving a site. Which is why we were there. Our expertise is in protecting fragile environments from the impacts of human activities on land, and we have been training contractors and inspectors about these important issues throughout the Pacific for over 10 years!

What’s Wrong With a Little Dirt?

During construction when natural vegetation is removed and the ground is disturbed, the newly exposed soil becomes highly susceptible to erosive forces when it rains. There are several factors on tropical islands that heighten this effect – total amount of rain (e.g., over 200 inches per year in parts of Tutuila!), rainfall intensity and frequency, mountainous terrain, and fine-grained soils. These factors can result in extreme amounts of sediment-laden runoff that can suffocate the downstream aquatic environment, in particular, coral reef ecosystems. The on-the-ground construction workers are often the last line of defense! Properly installed and maintained erosion and sediment controls can help reduce the amount of sediment leaving the site and protect this delicate environment. 

My Takeaway

American Samoa, and the entire Samoan Archipelago, is such a unique and enchanting yet fragile place in the world. Environmental protection needs to continue to be a priority here, including erosion and sediment control for construction sites. This was an extremely rewarding experience as we were able to transfer this idea and knowledge with the locals. On our final day, we received parting gifts from our trainees along with countless “Fa’afetai tele lava (thank you very much)” – truly a special moment. All the travel, long workdays, jet lagged mornings, loss of fluids (sweat, so much sweat…), and little bedroom critters were worth the opportunity to inspire a new fleet of “sediment warriors” on American Samoa!

Learn more about our Island Water Resources Services!

 

NBS wins RIASLA award

Norman Bird Sanctuary Comprehensive Management Plan

We are pleased to announce that the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (RIASLA) has awarded the Norman Bird Sanctuary Comprehensive Management Plan with honors in the Planning and Analysis category.

Congratulations to everyone who worked on this plan including the Norman Bird Sanctuary! The Comprehensive Management Plan serves as a roadmap to responsibly maintain, preserve, protect, and share this enormous treasure in perpetuity.

We worked with  McLaughlin and Buie, and NBS landscape consultant, Tanya Kelly on plan development.  We are happy to report that since it’s adoption, NBS has been successfully implementing the plan.  Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA accepted the award on behalf of the entire team at the recent RIASLA holiday party. 

 

The Comprehensive and Invasive Species Management Plans have been tremendous! We have used it exclusively to manage our property and the iPad mapping is amazing. What a successful project for us – it has made a world of difference.” – Natasha Harrison, former Executive Director of NBS

 

Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA with Lindsey Langenburg, RIASLA President. Photo: Rebecca Nolan

 

Project Wins TWO Awards!

Cottage Courts Gain Success in East Greenwich, RI

Jon Ford, P.E. Senior Project Manager

Jon has 20 years of experience as a civil engineer and neighborhood planning innovator, and is a Registered Professional Engineer in eight states. Jon is a recognized leader in the area of New Urbanist civil engineering and urban design.

 

“Cottage court projects typically feature energy-efficient homes with front porches clustered around high-quality shared plazas and green spaces, with parking areas strategically hidden.”

The National Association of Home Builders has announced the 2019 Best in American Living Awards winners. HW is proud to share that Castle Street Cottages, currently under construction by East Greenwich Cove Builders, won a ‘Best in American Living’ Award for both Single-Family Community Under 100 Units and Suburban Infill Community of the Year. We are  part of the team which includes East Greenwich Cove Builders, Union Studio, Traverse Design, and many other contributors who worked together to create the award-winning design. HW provided civil engineering services including site layout, grading, infrastructure design, stormwater management, permitting, and construction administration.

Around the country, the residential housing construction market has been slowly adjusting to meet the unmet demand for smaller residential units located within walkable neighborhoods.  East Greenwich, Rhode Island has emerged as a leader in New England encouraging unique infill (development of vacant parcels in a downtown context) for residential developments within the Main Street area. Castle Street Cottages is one of several innovative “pocket neighborhood” cottage court projects approved in East Greenwich in the last 10 years. Other notable projects in town include our collaboration with Union Studio on the CNU Charter Award Honorable Mention Cottages on Greene, which added 15 2-bedroom cottages on 0.85 acre in 2010.

Cottage court projects typically feature energy-efficient homes with front porches clustered around high-quality shared plazas and green spaces, with parking areas strategically hidden.  Reduced car dependence is a core benefit of downtown density, with some car trips replaced by a short and enjoyable walk to, in this case, East Greenwich’s historic Main Street and all it has to offer. The cottage court design scale typically blends new density more appropriately with the surrounding neighborhood fabric. Achieving a seamless blend of infrastructure into the site design is critical to a cottage court’s success but is no easy task, with small infill cottage court sites typically presenting challenges due to constrained and often sloping sites.

HW met these site challenges by designing stormwater systems not only to filter and infiltrate runoff to meet Town and state regulations, but also to employ green infrastructure as a visible and lovable part of the project’s identity and aesthetics. Our engineers integrated bioretention systems and infiltration practices throughout the site, serving as attractive buffers and transitions between parking areas, common areas, and semi-private front porches.

As demonstrated by the national attention, projects such as Cottages on Greene and Castle Street Cottages validate local implementation of cutting-edge planning and design practices. HW is excited to be part of it! Contact us today for more information regarding cottage courts, walkable neighborhood design, and green infrastructure!


Read more about the project.

What’s Up RhodeIsland: Castle Street Cottages in East Greenwich wins ‘Best in American Living’ Award

East Greenwich Cove Builders