What Lurks Down Below?

What Lurks Down Below?

Did you know that more than 1.6 million miles of pipe make up our water and sewer infrastructure in the United States? And that in 2021 the average age of water and sewer pipes is around 45 years old? It is no surprise to most that a lot of this aging pipe infrastructure needs to be replaced. Old cast iron pipes in most metropolitan areas are as old as 150 years. Highly aged pipes mean that the probability of their failure or leaking chemicals into drinking water increases each year. It is estimated that it will cost roughly $300 billion to replace all aging pipes. However, the main question is, should all this pipe be replaced with old school cast iron or new-aged polyvinyl chloride (PVC)?

Often people overlook traditional cast iron pipes for the new aged PVC pipes and think of the horrors cast iron pipes caused in Flint, Michigan. Cast iron has several benefits though over PVC, such as durability. Cast iron can last significantly longer than PVC piping for drainage systems in houses, hospitals, and offices. Since it has a higher stress rating, cast iron can be put under more pressure, has a higher temperature limit, and a lower expansion rate than PVC pipe. If treated properly and installed correctly, cast-iron piping can last several decades with no issues.

One of the main upsides of PVC piping for use in infrastructure, though, is cost. The cost for installing PVC pipes is considerably less compared to cast iron in construction. PVC is also easier to work with due to weight and flexibility. One gripe or issue brought up with PVC pipes being used for water and sewer is that it has not been around long enough to be tested for how well it will hold up over decades of use. German in the 1940s was one of the early adopters of using PVC pipes for water and sewer lines. Some of these lines are still in use today without any significant failures or issues.

The type of pipe to use is not as simple as just option A or B when it comes down to it. Both options should be weighed for the situation they will be used in, and the decision on which to use should come down to what the engineer or developer would deem the best for the circumstance. So whether you need help designing piping for a stormwater bed, inspecting a sanitary/stormwater bed, or need a land survey performed, feel free to reach out!

Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Addition Receives Approval

Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Addition Receives Approval

Over the past nine months, the team at D.L. Howell & Associates had the pleasure of teaming up with KCBA Architects once again to work on another school project. This time the project was located in the West Chester Area School District at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School in Westtown Township. The team worked together with the WCASD and Unruh Turner Burke & Frees, to secure Land Development approval, NPDES approval and a Special Exception from the Westtown Township Zoning Hearing Board. While the school has been located on the property for many years, it is located in a zoning district where a school is permitted as a Special Exception.

With this project, a new 7,610 square foot six-classroom addition will be added to the existing school. This addition will allow the school district to remove a modular classroom building and replace it with a new and more permanent learning space. In addition to the new classroom building, the plan proposes to provide additional parking for 26 vehicles adjacent to the existing school. Due to the presence of floodplain on the property, the stormwater management design was broken into two facilities, a subsurface infiltration bed beneath the new parking and a rain garden at the end of the proposed addition.

The entire team looks forward to the start of construction this summer!

Land Surveying is a Great Profession

Land Surveying is a Great Profession

Land Surveying is a great profession. Why don’t young people know about it?

If you talk to any Land Surveyor, they will share with you what it is like to be part of a great profession. A profession that provides vast variety, the opportunity to work outdoors and the chance to apply math and analytical skills in a real-world setting. When asked about my job, I always start with describing the satisfaction of solving a puzzle while being outdoors and using modern technology to retrace the steps of another surveyor who established a property corner possibly 100 years earlier. There is just nothing quite like it. So why aren’t more young people lining up to become surveyors?

I did a quick online review of what careers are being recommended to high school and middle school students, and surveying didn’t make any of the lists. That is unfortunate. According to the Princeton Review, “. . . surveying job opportunities are expected to increase by more than 20 percent in the next ten years.” Furthermore, surveying offers stable work hours, decent pay and the opportunity to use cutting-edge technology.

Recently the National Society of Land Surveyors (NSPS) teamed up with “get kids into survey.com” to engage kids at the grade school level, or even younger, as well as their parents, on the different activities and types of surveying they can be involved in. They use posters (like this one) with hidden objects, coloring sheets, and some pretty cool cartoon characters to help kids and parents understand surveying and its limitless boundaries (pun intended). Hopefully, providing a better presence will encourage students to consider land surveying as a career.

Today, more than ever, people need a fulfilling and reliable career — a profession they can count on in good times and bad. The pandemic, which has nearly erased whole business sectors, has had minimal impact on land surveying. We have been able to continue working in the field, socially distant, of course, making sure surveys are completed, construction continues, and infrastructure projects move forward.

Do the student in your life a favor and suggest that they look at these resources to learn more about a future as a Land Surveying professional.

Editorialized from https://www.pobonline.com/articles/102239-land-surveying-is-a-great-profession-but-why-dont-young-people-know-that
https://www.getkidsintosurvey.com/
https://www.princetonreview.com/careers/152/surveyor
A Bump in the Road

A Bump in the Road

Everyone hits a bump in the road from time to time, both metaphorically and literally. However, we are not here to wax poetic about life or spirituality. Today it’s all about those things in the middle of the street. That’s right, we’re going to talk about speed bumps and humps.

In case you didn’t already know, speed bumps are designed to slow down automobile traffic. The first speed bump was introduced in the infancy of the automobile age in Chatham, New Jersey. In 1906 workers raised crosswalks five inches to reduce drivers’ speed. Back then, the average automobile’s top speed was a blistering 30 mph. With little to no suspension on those vehicles, this five-inch deviation would cause quite a jolt to the motorists. A few decades later, the modern speed bump was introduced in the 1950s by a Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicist named Arthur Holly Compton. This guy was tired of motorists speeding by his office at Washington University and decided to take matters into his own hands and solve the problem. So he designed the speed bump, which he called a “traffic control bump.”

Speed bumps have since become a go-to traffic calming device across the world. The use of various materials (including asphalt, concrete, metal, plastic, and rubber) allows for their use in a wide variety of climates, road conditions, and traffic intensities. There are even dynamic speed bumps that only activate if a vehicle is traveling above a certain speed. However, speed bumps also have their fair share of detractors, which claim that they can slow the response time of emergency vehicles, cause damage to some vehicles, increase traffic noise, or even cause spinal damage.

Now I know that everyone is wondering the difference between a speed bump and a speed hump. Simply put, speed humps utilize a wider traverse distance (12-14ft) and are commonly located on public streets as they are less aggressive at low speeds. On the other hand, speed bumps are most often seen in parking lots and private streets to keep speeds as low as five mph. Both are designed with the same intent but are utilized for different purposes.

So next time you need to slow down your vehicle while approaching a speed bump or hump, give it a little approving nod. Know that even though it only has one job, it is doing it well. And if you have a fear of speed bumps, be strong and slowly get over it.

Red Clay Manor Construction Update

Red Clay Manor Construction Update

Red Clay Manor is a 62-unit senior living apartment building located at the East end of the Borough of Kennett Square in Chester County. DL Howell has been working closely with the project team since the very beginning. Last week during my site visit, I had the chance to check out the large 183’x73′ stormwater infiltration bed, which is currently under construction. While at the site, DL Howell’s own Patrick Kane performed additional percolation testing. Check out the video and photos below for a birds-eye-view look at the process.

Stormwater Management BMP Inspections for Homeowners

Stormwater Management BMP Inspections for Homeowners

With the weather warming up and homeowners working on spring cleaning and yard maintenance, don’t forget about those stormwater BMPs! Most improvements involving the addition of impervious surfaces require stormwater management. For small residential jobs such as house additions, patios, or swimming pools, this usually means a subsurface stone seepage bed. Larger projects may utilize rain gardens or detention basins.

Municipalities will often require homeowners to sign into an agreement to maintain the required stormwater management features. These agreements include regular inspections of these features. No two agreements are the same, but they typically require the following.

Starting with what you can see from the surface, the grading and drainage patterns will be examined to ensure stormwater runoff drains to the appropriate inlets/yard drains with no erosion or ponding. Roof drains need to be checked for clogging so that they drain adequality, whether it’s to a splash block or directly to a subsurface bed. Inlets and yard drains should be inspected for debris and sediment accumulation. For above-ground basins and rain gardens, the bottom, side slopes, and piping are inspected for erosion and adequate vegetation. If there are any trees near the stormwater BMPs, it is important to make sure there is no intrusion from root growth.

Seepage beds are designed with cleanouts and/or maintenance ports to access the subsurface features of the bed and perform visual inspections. We review water and sediment levels through these maintenance ports. Ideally, the bed will be empty. But if there is standing water and the most recent rainfall was more than 72 hours prior to the inspection, then infiltration problems exist, and further investigation is needed. If the stormwater system has an outlet structure, then it will be reviewed for sediment or water accumulation and to confirm the individual pieces (weir, orifice, or other flow control feature) are intact and undamaged.

The requirements for operation, maintenance, and inspections depend on the type of system and the agreements with the municipality. I always say this, but every township is a little different. If you have a stormwater management system on your property that needs inspection but aren’t exactly sure what is required, don’t hesitate to reach out to DLHowell so we can take care of it!