In 2003, the City of Austin asked Freese and Nichols to perform an inventory and initial assessment of dam-related risks for 495 known stormwater ponds across the City. Based on the findings, Freese and Nichols was hired to develop a Preliminary Engineering Report for the 66 potential high-hazard dams identified. The project included site visits, development of detailed PMF runoff models, breach inundation maps and an assessment of alternate methods for protecting the dams. In 2008, Freese and Nichols designed the first round of improvements.
One of the first dams to be modernized was Great Northern Dam, a small high-hazard dam located upstream of more than 200 houses. Freese and Nichols provided survey, geotechnical investigations, environmental assessments, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and structural design; prepared construction contract documents; assisted the City with permitting; and provided general representation during construction.