Designing Solutions for Aging Water Resources Infrastructure

Grady Hillhouse

Co-authored by Tina Stanard

As part of our efforts to convey the focus of our FNI Water™ initiative, we will address each of the key areas in a series of articles. We will discuss how, together, they provide a comprehensive, environmentally-responsible approach to water supply projects through implementation of best practices through every step, from planning to operations. This week, we are highlighting water resources design.

Most Americans rely on reservoirs for one or more of the following: water supply, flood control, hydroelectric power generation and irrigation. Many even enjoy the recreation benefits they provide. The heyday of reservoir construction in the United States occurred from the 1930s through the 1970s due to federal funding after WWII. Many of the dams constructed during this period are now over 50 years old and, like all aging infrastructure, can require significant investments to repair or replace. 

Freese and Nichols works to maintain and rehabilitate our nation’s critical water resources infrastructure to keep it operating safely and efficiently. Our water resources design engineers use a number of strategies, as part of our FNI Water™ initiative, to ensure stewardship of our clients’ and communities’ resources, including:

  • Preventative care of infrastructure, with detailed inspections and monitoring programs
  • Maximizing project lifespan through rehabilitation instead of replacement
  • Stream restoration as mitigation for new dams and major rehabilitation projects
  • Removal of dams which are no longer serving a valuable purpose to the community, eliminating operating requirements for the owner and restoring the riparian environment
  • Incorporating recycled and regional materials into projects, diverting waste from landfills and reducing transportation costs
  • Outreach to the public to gain insight and feedback from communities 

Our engineers place a focus on using holistic approaches to our projects which allow pursuit of innovative and nontraditional solutions to protect and maximize the benefit of these critical structures.

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