Two Water Resource Design Clients Receive National Awards

Two clients were recognized this fall at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) national conference for achievements that Freese and Nichols contributed to. The ASDSO Regional Awards of Merit recognize organizations of those who have made meaningful improvements to dam safety. Read more about the award winners on the ASDSO website.

North Carolina Dam Safety Program

Tony Grubbs (fourth from right) and John Wolfhope (fifth from right) pictured with the North Carolina Dam Safety Program team.

Award of Merit, Southeast Regional Award

High-hazard dams could jeopardize the safety and health of communities and have serious consequences if not addressed properly. The North Carolina Dam Safety Program, part of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, is dedicated to risk prevention and providing resources that would benefit the state. The agency looked to make use of the FEMA High Hazard Potential Dams (HHPD) grant program, when enables investments to future safety needs once the requirements for funding are met.

Freese and Nichols assisted the NC Dam Safety Program by preforming a screen-level risk assessment for 73 high-hazard dams and established the state’s process for future dams. The pilot study is the first of its kind in the nation, making Freese and Nichols the first ones in the country to use a risk-based analysis to meet the grant requirements and receive funding for North Carolina. Our team conducted the analysis in such a way that the agency can apply it to the rest of 3,000 regulated dams in the state and understand what their risks are. Now, FEMA is considering having future grant applicants apply the same process and provide similar data, and they are giving presentations on the work that the NC Dam Safety Program and Freese and Nichols did together.

Project Manager: Tony Grubbs

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board

Award of Merit, West Regional Award

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) is the state agency that administers Texas soil and water conservation law and coordinates conservation and nonpoint source water pollution abatement projects throughout the state. At times, this mission can be interrupted by aging structures in need of improvements. Because of this, maintaining adequate flood control and improving dam safety has been a priority of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) alongside the Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) since 1939.

Six flood-deficient structures across Texas, all of which are regulated by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) federal dam safety program, presented their own set of challenges for TSSWCB and FNI to solve: hydrologic inadequacies, increased hazard potential, and a limited timeline to meet funding requirements. Freese and Nichols formed six teams, worked simultaneously and performed fast-track design upgrades for the six structures. Our engineering services consisted of detailed time and cost estimates, bid schedules, drawings construction specifications, design reports, analysis of impacts to downstream floodplain, stormwater pollution prevention plan and quality assurance plan for the design of the dams. FNI’s work also included an environmental evaluation to addresses potential environmental impacts such as threatened and endangered species, water quality, floodplain management, invasive species, cultural resources and Clean Water Act permitting requirements.

These projects involved a significant level of agency coordination; our teams worked with TSSWCB, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), as well as involving local sponsor organizations. While this project reached new levels of urgency and required additional levels of management and coordination, it is reflective of the trusted advisor status that FNI has developed with TSSWCB over the past decade.

Project Manager: Brad Kirksey