Infrastructure Maintenance is Key to Managing Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas.

Even before hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria produced catastrophic flooding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year, managing stormwater runoff was a top infrastructure priority for urban areas. Stormwater runoff occurs when roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces prevent rain or snowmelt from soaking into the ground. The excess water is carried to local lakes, rivers and other wetlands, becoming heavily polluted with oil, grease, trash and pesticides along the way, and causing flooding and erosion. That said, it comes as no surprise that stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas according to the Center for Watershed Protection.

Frank McMahan, PE, is a principal and civil engineer in LandDesign’s Charlotte office who manages storm drainage improvement projects for numerous municipal, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects. He works with clients to design infrastructure to handle anticipated stormwater needs and relieve the demands on older, failing infrastructure.

Improvements matter.

Frank points to a proactive solution many municipalities are starting to employ to mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff: maintenance programs that are funded by nominal utility fees based on the impervious coverage of a home or business. “Generally, these are not huge fees for taxpayers. But, they are a valuable mechanism to help municipalities fund maintenance projects to fix their failing infrastructures before they become major problems.”

In 2016, roughly 1,600 communities in 39 states had stormwater utilities or fees. LandDesign has long-standing contracts with several municipalities, including the City of Charlotte, that utilize such a program to provide system assessments, make recommendations and produce construction documents for stormwater maintenance.

Mary Alexander Storm Drainage Improvement Project

One such project is the Mary Alexander Road Storm Drainage Improvement Project (SDIP) near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Storm drainage and erosion issues were made evident by street flooding in the area around Mary Alexander Road that affected transit through the neighborhood. To alleviate future flooding and erosion, LandDesign assessed drainage issues and analyzed the capacity of the existing infrastructure, recommended alternatives to remediate roadway and structural flooding and selected a preferred alternative to future design and construction.

Throughout the duration of the project, LandDesign maintained open communication with City Staff regarding remediation options, project fee and project schedule. The firm’s team of civil engineers attended internal and external project team meetings, implemented internal quality control procedures and was responsive to and available for all of the city’s requests. To date, this project has not been involved in any construction claims.

Client service matters.

Frank’s goal with each of these clients is to be a seamless extension of their staff to make their job easier. “You wouldn’t know if we work as a private consultant or in the local government building.”

The standard of service that LandDesign provides sets us apart and, with many of our clients, has become the bar by which other consultants are measured.

The firm’s efficient process begins with an initial site visit. It continues with a streamlined system to complete the existing conditions analysis and quickly get the job to the construction document phase. LandDesign works with each municipality to accommodate specific invoicing and billing requirements.

The firm also requires its subconsultants work to the same high standard that clients have come to expect. “The standard of service that LandDesign provides sets us apart and, with many of our clients, has become the bar by which other consultants are measured."