Municipal Water Leader
  • Interview

    Learning From Oroville: HDR’s Dam Inspection Program

    In February 2017, the service spillway of California’s Oroville Dam was damaged, resulting in an emergency that required the temporary evacuation of 188,000 people downstream. While the danger was contained and the spillway was reconstructed the following year, the Oroville incident was serious enough to provoke a thorough rethink of dam maintenance and inspection practices across California and nationwide. The personnel of engineering firm HDR, Inc., were onsite at Oroville Dam and played a major role both in responding to the initial damage and in developing new methods and practices for dam and spillway inspection. In this interview, HDR Principal Hydraulic Structures Engineer Sam Planck and Hydraulic Structures Practice Leader…

  • Interview

    The ASDSO: Advocating for Dam Safety Nationwide

    The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) was founded in 1984 after a string of high-profile dam failures to aid each state in improving its dam safety regulatory program. Since then, it has helped state dam safety agencies communicate with one another and adopt best practices, conducted training, and engaged in awareness raising and legislative advocacy. In this interview, ASDSO Executive Director Lori Spragens speaks with Municipal Water Leader about the organization’s history and activities and about the prospects for increased dam safety funding on the federal and state levels.

  • Interview

    Modernizing Oregon’s Dam Safety Statutes

    In 1928, the St. Francis Dam in California failed, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives and the passage of dam safety laws in several states, including Oregon. Over the years, however, the resources dedicated to dam safety have been limited, and challenges in ensuring their safety remain. Engineering standards have evolved over time, as has our understanding of seismic and flood risks, demanding new actions and programs. These challenges are compounded by the fact that dams are aging, with some showing signs of degradation or requiring urgent repairs.

  • Interview

    Creating Consensus on Oregon’s Mid-Coast

    The Mid-Coast region of Oregon is surprisingly complex in its hydrology. It contains eight hydrological basins, each with its own population demographics, water supply, and water needs. In this sense, the mid-coast is a microcosm of Oregon as a whole, which is also a climatically and geographically diverse state. In recognition of this fact, the state established an Integrated Water Resources Strategy in 2012 to coordinate efforts to understand and balance diverse water needs. The Mid-Coast Water Planning Partnership is one of four pilot programs to across the state working to create a local, place-based regional water plan using this voluntary, nonregulatory approach. In this interview, Alan Fujishin, a local…

  • Interview

    How Seal Rock Water District Is Planning for Resilience

    Seal Rock Water District (SRWD) provides water to several thousand yearly and seasonal residents of the Oregon coast. With a newly installed smart water grid, it is a technologically advanced district that has sharply reduced water waste and demand. Moreover, SRWD is thinking about the future. As it builds a new water intake to increase its resilience and independence, it is designing it to be resilient to potential earthquakes and tsunamis. In this interview, SRWD General Manager Adam Denlinger tells Municipal Water Leader about his district’s water sources and infrastructure; the usefulness of its intertie with the Newport, Oregon, system; and its plans for the future.

  • Interview

    Congress’s Role in Funding Water Infrastructure

    Our public infrastructure has been in disrepair for far too long. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our nation’s roads, highways, bridges, railways, airports, and water systems will require $4.6 trillion in investments before 2025. However, current funding levels are falling short of our infrastructure needs, and there will be an estimated $2 trillion funding gap.

  • Interview

    Dean Sawyer: Averting Disaster and Guaranteeing Newport’s Future

    Newport, Oregon, is a thriving city of 10,000 on the Oregon coast that is popular with tourists and home to many businesses and organizations. However, the city faces an existential threat. Its two aging dams would not survive a moderately sized earthquake and suffer from seepage issues. A dam breach would cause loss of life and would erase at a stroke the city’s ability to supply basic water service to its residents and business community. Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer is leading the effort to raise awareness of this issue across Oregon and the entire nation. He and his team are leading a publicity campaign, holding tours of the dam, and…

  • Interview

    AECOM’s Holistic Solutions to Cities’ Water, Waste, and Energy Problems

    AECOM is one of the largest consulting companies in the world, and works with major companies and municipalities to design, finance, build, and operate transportation, water, and energy infrastructure. Its immense spectrum of activities means that it can often find innovative solutions to big problems by integrating solutions from a number of its divisions. For example, by colocating and integrating solid waste, wastewater, and energy recovery services, it can create smaller and more efficient facilities. It is involved in projects of this nature from New York to Hong Kong and Singapore.  In this interview, AECOM Senior Vice Presidents Beverley Stinson and Paul Storella tell Municipal Water Leader about how the…

  • Interview

    Implementing Oceanus’s Pumped Storage- Desal Plant in Chile

    Desalination plants typically deal with two major problems: the desalination process requires a large amount of energy, and it results in a large amount of brine, which is difficult to dispose of safely. Oceanus Power & Water has come up with an innovative solution to this problem: combining a pumped storage facility, which stores power in the form of elevated water that can be used to drive turbines, with a desalination facility. Gravity power alone can dramatically reduce the energy demands of the desalination process, while the resulting brine can be reinjected into the stored seawater as it is released back into the ocean, diluting it on site. Chile, a…

  • Interview

    Columbia Basin Hydropower’s Major Pumped Storage Plans

    Across the Pacific Northwest and California, coal- and gas-fired thermal combustion power plants are being retired and replaced by renewable wind and solar power facilities. This environmentally friendly policy, however, is causing a logistical problem. The intermittent nature of wind and solar generation threatens to result in a 7,500–10,000 megawatt (MW) shortfall in power generation capacity. There is only one technology that can reliably address a problem of this scale: pumped storage. Columbia Basin Hydropower is planning a major pumped storage project at Banks Lake in Central Washington with a capacity of 500 MW. In this interview, Columbia Basin Hydropower’s manager of project development, Tim Culbertson, tells Municipal Water Leader…