Sunday, August 5, 2007

Baltimore Inner Harbor

My family and I visited Baltimore's Inner Harbor last Friday and Saturday, one of the America's oldest seaports - and one of the world's newest travel destinations. I was very impressed by the transformation of an abandoned area of rotting warehouses and piers to a major cultural and economic area of the city. I think this is an excellent example of waterfront re-development.

However, water quality could be improved. Visibility of the water was almost zero, and floatables were occasionally visible from the water taxi that we took. In addition to control of municipal and industrial discharges, stormwater runoff from the street needs to be intercepted and treated, as it could carry a large amount of trash, debris, oil, grease, sediment, and other pollutants to the harbor. Being an "inner" harbor that has a very limited pollutant flushing capability, control of the pollutant sources is critical.

Tour of the National Aquarium was fantastic! I believe everybody would appreciate watershed and salt marsh much more after seeing the exhibit "Maryland: Mountains to the Sea.

My album contains additional photos of the Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Dam Operations to Help with Recovery and Reconstruction Efforts at Collapsed I-35W Bridge Site

It was reported that the recovery (sadly) efforts were hindered by the rapid and turbid river current at the collapsed I-35W Bridge site. I believe the rapid current was due to water falls upstream, and the turbid water was due to its high soil and organic contents that was made worse by debris from the collapsed bridge.

The Google map/image shows the I-35W Bridge, and the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls. You can see the rapid currents at downstream sides of both Falls. The I-35W Bridge is in rapid tail water of the Lower St. Anthony Falls.

To help the recovery efforts, water level was lowered in the Mississippi River at the bridge site, by opening up more the downstream Ford Dam (a part of the Lock and Dam No. 1 System). But this made the current at the bridge site even faster, thus tougher to anchor and stirring up even more debris. It was a tricky engineering that helped with the recovery efforts.

Maybe they could additionally change operations at the lock and dam systems associated with the St. Anthony Falls upstream, and lower the gates at the Coon Rapids Dam further upstream to hold more water.

Well-coordinated opeartions of downstream and upstream dams would also likely help a rapid and smooth reconstruction of the bridge.

What a horrible event! May the recovery and re-construction efforts go well!

PS: I lived in a rooming house close to the bridge while a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. I still remember the sound of I-35W traffic as well as the view of St. Anthony Falls!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Delaware River Ice Jam Flooding

"The Delaware River Basin Interstate Flood Mitigation Task Force has completed and forwarded to the four basin state governors its action agenda for a more proactive, sustainable, and systematic approach to flood damage reduction" (DRBC Press Release, July 17, 2007).

It is interesting to read that "The task force added several recommendations due to the public comments. One was for state emergency preparedness officials to coordinate with the National Weather Service over the possibility of ice jam flooding. Prior to the three recent floods, the worst flooding in Trenton in recent decades was caused by ice jams in 1996, wile the city's worst recorded flood was due to ice jam in 1904" (The Star Ledger, July 19, 2007).

My thoughts: Ice jams are very difficult, if not impossible, to forecast at this time, and more research needs to be done on this subject. Sections of the river susceptible to ice jamming could also be investigated and engineering measures be applied. I researched on ice jam flooding while a graduate student at University of Minnesota and published several papers. I guess I could contribute a little if DRBC and other entities are to tackle the ice jam issue further.

Image Credit: Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in Dianchi Lake, The Sixth Largest Freshwater Lake in China (除滇池蓝藻, 要优先降磷)

A massive algae bloom has spread out over another of China’s big lakes.

"The bloom comes after algae choked Taihu and Chaohu lakes, China’s third and fifth largest freshwater lakes respectively, in late May and early June, underscoring the state of China’s degraded water system. More than 70 percent of China’s waterways and 90 percent of its underground water are contaminated by pollution, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration" (from Gulf Times).

"The clean-up measures to date have failed to stem the pollution because they have focussed almost exclusively on (industrial) point sources around the lake periphery. They have not addressed agricultural runoff or pollution of the lake tributaries. According to a recent press report, 80 percent of domestic sewage entering the 16 rivers that flow into the Dianchi is untreated. Meanwhile, heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on farm fields lying east of the lake leads to extremely high runoff of nitrates and phosphates" (from US Embassy-Beijing Report).

My proposed engineering solution: Reduce the phosphorus input first if not enough money to reduce both phosphorus and nitrogen inputs to a very low level. The scientific justification is that the blue-green algae is prevalent in the low nitrogen-phosphorus ratio environment. Therefore, the priority now should be placed on controlling phosphorus-rich sources such as the domestic sewage.

Photo Credit: Dongfang (East) IC

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tampa Water Congress Attended

I was in Tampa, Florida last week attending the ASCE/EWRI World Water Resources and Environmental Congress.

I presented three technical papers on stormwater engineering and management. The audience was awake and interested.

I also organized and presided over the (ASCE/EWRI Stormwater BMPs Certification Guidelines) Task Committee kickoff meeting. The meeting was attended by 32 committee members and interested parties. We formed six subcommittees to tackle six issues simultaneously. There are 52 committee members across the country thus far. I am fortunate to be able to work with so many professionals in the stormwater field through this new task committee.

I had a good time there. The only regret was that I was too busy to take a break and go to the beach. Maybe next time.

The photo above was taken by me from my hotel room balcony looking at Garrison Channel, one of the several channels for boat traffic in and around Port of Tampa.

My ablum contains additional photos of the navigation channels in Tampa.

Monday, April 30, 2007

My Newspaper Opinion Column Article: How We Can Combat Flooding

My op-ed article was published in today's edition of the Record, the newspaper for northern New Jersey.

The first paragraph reads "WHEN WE WITNESS the devastating floods caused by recent heavy rains, it's easy to assume that New Jersey has done little to mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff. While much needs to be done to correct problems in older, heavily settled areas of the state that have been vulnerable to flooding, it is important to note that New Jersey is perhaps the most progressive state in mandating adequate stormwater management for new development."

The article continues onto addressing the need for utilization of the digital watershed model to assess the overall result of all proposed developments, rainwater harvesting and open space storage to mitigate the effects of earlier developments, and doubling efforts to secure federal funding in order to move ahead with the effective flood control projects that are already on the drawing boards.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nor'easter of 2007: The Green Brook Flood Control Project

A front page article titled "A missing line of defense vs. floods" appeared in today (Sunday)'s Star Ledger, the leading newspaper of New Jersey. The primary point of the article was that the borough of Bound Brook, located at the downstream end of the flood control project, was still flooded this time because the planned levee/floodwall, due to lack of federal funding, was only partially constructed.

In the last section of the article about consequences of the entire planned project, I was quoted as saying "You want to control the source" of the flood water when discussing necessity of the initially planned, but later scrapped, two upstream flood control detention basins.

Image Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

(My presentation contains additional info on the Green Brook project as well as other measures of urban flood management.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nor'easter of 2007: Flooding of Millstone River at Blackwells Mills Road

In the deadly nor'easter, two to nine inches of rain fell in New Jersey from April 14 to April 16, 2007, causing widespread flooding. On Monday, April 16, I tried every possible road but I was not able to reach my workplace.

I took the photo to the left on Tuesday, April 17 around 5:00 p.m., after the flood peak had already passed the night before. I was standing on the flooded River Road (Rt. 533) looking across the Millstone River. Note the river water level was still in contact with the lower bridge deck.

My album contains additional photos of the flooding.

The Duck Pond to Help Healing in the Aftermath of Virginia Tech Massacre

An open water in the tree-lined area of the campus, the Duck Pond would be a quiet, private place for reflection and healing in the days and months to come.

The lake, or pond, was built near Solitude in the summer of 1937. The lake is fed by two small creeks. The Stroubles Creek was culverted into an underground tunnel when the University built the drill field. The spring at Solitude is a historic groundwater resource of the area.

The Solitude House is Virginia Tech's oldest building, and it marks the site of the Draper Meadow Settlement and massacre of 1755.

I was at Virginia Tech only once more than ten years ago, and I have almost forgot about the Drill Field and Duck Pond. The tragic event yesterday brought back my visual and emotional memories.

VT, you go well!

Photo credit: Virginia Tech University Relations

Monday, April 16, 2007

Three Papers to be Presented at World Environmental & Water Resources Congress

I will present three papers at the upcoming ASCE/EWRI Congress, May 15-19, 2007, Tampa, Florida. Titles of the papers are: (1) Performance of Retrofitted Stormwater Extended Detention Wetlands, (2) Effect of Particle Size on Difference between TSS and SSC Measurements, and (3) Research to Support Certification of TSS Removal Efficiency of Stormwater Manufactured Treatment Devices. All are related to stormwater and urban watershed management.

(Click here for my presentation on TSS vs. SSC measurements.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Top Ten Outperforming Water Stocks

Last night, I scanned through the 88 water stocks listed by I found the 10 water stocks that outperformed S&P 500 in the past 12 months (+10%), had the daily money exchange more than 1 million dollars, and were available from the US stock market. These 10 stocks are: 1. Robbins & Myers Inc. (RBN) (+75%); 2. Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo (SBS) (+74%); 3. SJW Corp. (SJW) (+50%); 4. Valmont Industries Inc. (VMI) (+38%); 5. Veolia Environnement SA (VE) (+36%); 6. Suez (SZE) (+33%); 7. Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. (TMO) (+28%); 8. Pall Corp. (PLL) (+27%); 9. Lindsay Corporation (LNN) (+23%); 10. United Utilities plc (UU) (+20%). These are NOT my recommendations for buy, hold, or sell at this time and in the future.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Committee on Certification of Stormwater Manufactured BMPs

A group of stormwater professionals proposed a task committee on developing national guidelines for certification of stormwater manufactured BMPs (Best Management Practices). I am glad it was officially approved by ASCE/EWRI last week. I was the proposing Chair. Now I have to start organizing the committee kickoff meeting, to be held in Tampa, Florida during the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress, May 15-19, 2007. We also need to invite additional professionals to join the new committee. Hey, your suggestions and/or comments are welcome here!

(Click here to enter the committee website.)

Start Water Blogging Today!

I am dealing with water every day. Then, why not write down what I have been reading, thinking, and doing about water? I could share water videos and photos that I take too. Yes, let me start today.