Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Busy Year of 2013: Rebuilding Effort for Superstorm Sandy, and Continuing Concern about Aging Water Infrastructure

I have not posted any blog in the past year of 2013. It has been an extremely busy year.

I have been actively engaged in the Superstorm Sandy recovery and rebuilding efforts, among other Rutgers University responsibilities. The Sandy projects that I have been leading in and the related news reports are listed below:

1. Flood Risk Reduction Strategies for Vulnerable Coastal Populations around Barnegat Bay, Hackensack River, Hudson River, Arthur Kill, and Delaware Bay. These studies are sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the Governor's Office of Recovery and Rebuilding (GORR).


SOE Grant for Flood Mitigation Studies

Rutgers chosen in flood prevention, mitigation

My colleagues, students and I are continuing to work hard on these studies, and are striving to come up with some good solutions that would complement others' studies and make our state and region stronger and more resilient against future storms.

2. Protection of Reconstructed Boardwalk against Future Storms. This study was sponsored by the Borough of Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Seaside Heights will use wall, dune to protect its boardwalk

Besides involvements with the Sandy-related rebuilding issues, I have continued to express my concern about our aging water infrastructure. My two media interviews last year on this subject are listed below:

Hundreds of Newark fire hydrants unusable as city grapples with aging water system

Old Water Pipes, New Development...Big Problem

The photo above is an image that I took during the technical tour kindly guided by engineers of the City of Elizabeth for our Sandy flood study, looking at the Arthur Kill, on January 7th, 2014.

It was a very cold day due to the arrival of Polar Vortex, with the air temperature of a single digit in Fahrenheit (lower than minus 10 degrees in Celsius). And, several water main breaks were reported across the New Jersey State due to the cold weather as well as the pipe's old age.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rebuilding Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy: Necessity, Adaptability and Opportunity

In the aftermath of the devastating Superstorm Sandy that hit New Jersey on October 29, I was interviewed by several news outlets on the issue of rebuilding the Jersey Shore. I talked about the economic necessity of rebuilding the Jersey Shore as well as the technical aspects. The quotes are as follow:

"There are certain spots where it’s more vulnerable than other spots - maybe we should rebuild in some locations but not others. But not to build at all would not be acceptable in terms of economics." CCTV America, November 1 (EST), November 2 (BJT), 2012. The photo to the left is an image of the destroyed boardwalk taken from the TV show. The full segment of the show is available from YouTube website.

"We’ve been worrying about this for a long time. Now that it has happened, we need to rebuild our infrastructure in a way that is more adaptive to the way nature is changing around us." The Star-Ledger, November 4, Sunday, 2012.

“We need to be planning for something worse than this. I think this may create a lasting memory that will hopefully have an impact when we think about how to rebuild.” The Star-Ledger, November 5, 2012.

“We should rebuild these places because of the economic benefits, but we should build them to be more resilient. We can take this opportunity to build structures in a more adaptive way." The Bergen Record, November 12, 2012.

"Government is in a very tricky situation. (But) if we know the existing public infrastructure before the hurricane damage was already detrimental to public welfare, then why we should repair or replace it back to the original form and shape at the same location after it is damaged or washed away?" The Star-Ledger, November 19, 2012.

(Originally posted on November 8, updated on November 12 and 19)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Jersey Must Strengthen Infrastructure before it is too late

The Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, published an article titled "A year after Irene, experts say N.J. must strengthen infrastructure before it's too late" on August 25, 2012. I was interviewed by the staff writer Stephen Stirling, and was quoted in his article as saying "We are definitely very vulnerable. Our infrastructure is aging — that alone is going to make things like this happen more often. But add climate change on top of that, with more intense rain and more intense drought, and you’re going to see it more and more and more." The full article is available from the newspaper website.

Photo to the left shows flooded road, church, gas station, shop, and bridge along the Millstone River in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Rest of the photos that I took during Irene can be found in my water photo album.

April 28, 2013 Notes: This Star-Ledger article received a lot of attention from the infrastructure community immediately and received renewed attention after Hurricane Sandy.

Some evidence of the attention to the article follows:

(1) American Society of Civil Engineers' SmartBrief: Infrastructure investment needed to avoid catastrophic failures, Published on August 27, 2012. The brief reads:

A year after Tropical Storm Irene caused damage along the East Coast, New Jersey's outmoded infrastructure remains vulnerable to destructive weather events. Earlier this summer, the state experienced a failure in its water system, highlighting the need to make major investments in infrastructure. "We are definitely very vulnerable," said Qizhong Guo, a professor in the civil engineering department at Rutgers University. "Our infrastructure is aging -- that alone is going to make things like this happen more often." The American Society of Civil engineers says updates to the state's water and wastewater systems would cost almost $22 billion.

(2) Homeland Security News Wire: New Jersey infrastructure badly needs shoring up, and soon, Published on August 30, 2012.

(3) American European Insurance Group, Inc.'s Newsletter: One Year After Irene, Along Comes Sandy: What Lessons Did We Learn – and Not Learn?, Published in Fall 2012. A section of the newsletter article reads:

Aging Infrastructure Makes Us Vulnerable

When Sandy struck, the damage it inflicted on our infrastructure was particularly acute because much of the infrastructure was old and had not been designed to anticipate such ferocity.

Just a few months before Sandy arrived, Qizhong Guo, a professor in Rutgers University’s civil engineering department, speaking to (August 25, 2012) stated, “We are definitely very vulnerable. . . . Our infrastructure is aging – that alone is going to make things like this [i.e., utility collapses resulting from Irene] happen more often. But add climate change on top of that, with more intense rain and more intense drought, and you’re going to see it more and more and more.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 EWRI World Environmental and Water Resources Congress Attended

In May, I attended the EWRI Congress in Albuqerque, New Mexico, made a presentation titled "Maintenance Interval of Stormwater Hydrodynamic Separators: Effects of Traffic Volume and Other Site Variables," and moderated a conference session. I also presided over the annual meeting of the Chinese American Water Resources Assocication. In addition, I took a technical tour of Cochiti Dam on the Rio Grande. The primary purpose of the dam construction was to reduce flooding level at downstream Albuquerque.

Photo to the left shows almost empty reservoir behind the Cochiti Dam. Rest of the photos that I took can be found in my water photo album.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Restoration of Coal Mining Areas

In April, I was invited to join the mining restoration expert group, attend and present a set of recommendations at the 9th Sino-American Engineering and Technology Conference in Beijing, China. Prior to the gathering in Beijing, our group went to Anhui to have site visits and technical exchanges with local experts.

Photo to the left shows a restored subsided coal-mining area. Rest of the photos that I took can be found in my water photo album.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Retrofit Green Infrastructure to Existing Developments

Asbury Park Press published an article titled "Low-lying areas vs. flooding is a losing battle" on November 17, 2011. I was interviewed by the staff writer Michelle Gladden and was cited by her in the article. Part of the article reads: "Guo said the focus should be on the larger issue of not generating too much stormwater runoff by implementing changes to infrastructure designs. A more prudent temporary fix would be to retrofit 'green' infrastructure to properties designed prior to the more stringent 2004 guideline, he said." The full article is available from the newspaper website.

Photo to the left shows a stormwater bioretenti​on system that was installed at the Rutgers Stadium south end expansion site. Additional photos can be found from my water photo album.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Three Gorges Dam Visited

I visited Three Gorges Dam, as a part of the technical tour organized by the Cross Strait Water Resources Conference in late October.

Photo to the left shows downstream face of the Three Gorges Dam. Rest of the photos that I took can be found in my water photo album.

The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River in China. It is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity (20,300 MW). Besides producing electricity, the dam was designed and constructed to increase the Yangtze River's shipping capacity, and reduce the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space.