Orange County Branch Newsletter

November 2015


Environmental Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Presented a Continuing Education Seminar - Engineering Analysis for Urban Drainage Systems

By: Nick Zamarippa

This September I had the chance to attend the ASCE/OC EWRI half-day seminar on Engineering Analysis for Urban Drainage Systems. I was interested in attending this seminar as it focused on the key aspects of planning and designing an urban drainage system. While most of the work I have done at my job focuses on hydraulics analysis of a storm drain system, I was interested in finding out more about the  early planning and permitting phase of a project.

What I particularly liked about the presentation put on by Mr. Phil Jones, P.E. was how he took the class through the step-by-step process of the preliminary design phase. He discussed how agencies select projects to move from the conceptual and planning phase into the preliminary design phase. There is a lot of coordination and planning that has to be thought of at the beginning of the project so that schedules can be created and timelines established of when each phase of the project should be completed. I was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of permitting and environmental documentation that is required for projects in Orange County, but Mr. Jones was kind enough to provide everyone with a CD of his presentation which laid out many of the steps that are typical of projects here in the county. He provided references to the design criteria and permitting applications that I know for a fact I will go back and use for some of my future design projects.

Mr. Bruce Phillips, P.E. covered much of what I have learned in my short time working at Michael Baker International. The great thing about his presentation is that he covered a lot of the practical design knowledge that many young engineers do not fully cover in school. Little things, such as minimum spacing between manholes, and minimum pipeline radius curves, are all things that I myself hadn’t covered specifically in school but eventually learned when I started designing systems on my own. He provided a design booklet handout that has all of the pipeline criteria, hydraulics equations and tables I could ever dream of. Not to mention, more than a few of the pages look like my old hydraulics text books from college. But like Mr. Jones’s CD, I am glad I now have this as a reference and know I will be using the information soon.

The final presentation of the seminar was done by Mr. Scott Taylor, P.E. on Low Impact Development (LID) Treatment Practices. LID treatment practices are something that I hear about often but have never had a chance to design myself. What I found useful was the explanation on each type of LID treatment facility. More importantly, when it could and should be used in treatment design. He shared experiences about his past projects and which best management practices (BMPs) he found to be most beneficial in the project situations. That kind of advice and guidance is always helpful especially to those that have not had a chance to design that many BMPs. Mr. Taylor provided us with a link to a BMP design spreadsheet that is very helpful in the design, maintenance, and cost of LID treatment options.

The three presenters were more than happy to offer up their advice and experiences in designing urban drainage systems. The seminar was informative and taught me a lot more about the design process. Hearing from experienced engineers, who know the best practical information to pass on to the next generation of engineers, is important. I enjoyed the presentations by Mr. Jones, Mr. Phillips, and Mr. Taylor. But what made the whole seminar worth it was the passion and the enthusiasm that each of them showed all of us in the room.