Can’t touch them!

Can’t touch them!

It seems in this day and age there are so many lines on our plans that they have almost, I say almost, become unreadable. It isn’t just property lines and easements anymore. It is now different pipe sizes, every utility known to man (and woman) (both existing and proposed), seepage beds, steep slopes of varying degrees, different size trees, streams, stream buffers, wetlands and wetland buffers etc.  The list goes on and on. With every project we, as designers, are requested to add more and more information to our plans and our plan legend continues to expand. We are literally starting to run out of ideas to differentiate between lines.

The simple “one dash” or “two dash” line type just doesn’t work anymore. So….in an effort to make our line types different as well as have them “communicate” their purpose we have come up with (and will continue to come up with) new line types over the next year. Our first new line type will be to delineate wetland boundaries, communicating to ALL that you “can’t touch this”(them).

Now, the first 3 people to take a picture of this new line type on one of our plans and email it to me (denny@dlhowell.com) will get a $100 gift certificate to Sullivan’s Steakhouse or Fogo de Chao…your choice. Sorry vegetarians.

Denny L. Howell, II PE

Henkels & McCoy Building Expansion Cliffwood, NJ.

Henkels & McCoy Building Expansion Cliffwood, NJ.

D.L. Howell & Associates assisted Henkels & McCoy in securing approvals for the expansion of their operations facility in Cliffwood (Aberdeen Township), NJ. The project entailed a roughly 2000 SF office expansion to their current office building and 12 new parking spaces to support the new office space. The approvals were complicated by decades-old zoning relief and the need to confirm whether conditions associated with that relief were adequately complied with. DLH submitted plans to the Township and Freehold, NJ Soils Conservation District for approval. In late January, DLH attended a Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting where site plan, variance, and waiver approvals were all granted. Final plan revisions will be made to comply with the conditions of approval and the project should be on track for construction this Spring.

International City Will Likely Run Out of Water in April

International City Will Likely Run Out of Water in April

Based on current projections, Cape Town, South Africa will likely run out of water in April of this year, which would make it the world’s first major city to run out of water. It is being called “Day Zero” and this day will likely be real, suggested by the weekly calculations based on current reservoir capacity and daily consumption. Above is a photo of Theewaterskloof Dam outside Cape Town, which is running at extremely low levels and unfortunately is Cape Town’s main water supply. The city will not literally “run dry”; in most cases, reservoirs can’t be drained to the last drop because of the silt and debris in the water which makes the last 10% of the dam’s water unusable. The cities authorities have decided to turn off the municipal water supply once the Theewaterskloof dam reaches 13.5% capacity, which will then be used for what has been determined to be essential services, like hospitals and schools. There are efforts to secure alternative sources of water, but these efforts have yet to be completed. Of the seven (7) projects listed on the city’s water dashboard, six are running behind schedule, and no one is more than 60% complete.

The three (3) main factors leading up to this water crisis are, the worst drought in more than a century, a rapidly growing metropolitan area with a current population of four (4) million, and a rapidly changing climate. In addition to those factors, the majority of residents have been unwilling to significantly reduce their water usage, therefore the city has had to lower the water pressure in its main to stretch out the water supply. Starting February 1, it has been reported that residents will only be allowed to use a little over 13 gallons of water per person, per day.

Do you think you could survive using only 13 gallons of water per day?

Studies state that the average person in the United States uses from 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. This includes the average American shower using five (5) gallons per minute, brushing teeth using a faucet flowing at a rate of 1-2 gallons per minute, flushing the toilet using from 1.6 to 4 gallons per flush, and washing dishes using a facet flowing at a rate of 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute. To put this into perspective, a three (3) minute shower using five (5) gallons per minute would exceed the daily allowable usage of water in Cape Town starting on February 1st.

Then, you would then have to travel to some 200 municipal water points throughout the city where they will be allowed to collect a maximum of 6.6 gallons per day, which will be regulated by armed guards. The residents will likely have to stand in lines of up to 20,000 people to wait for their daily ration of water until it rains enough to fill the reservoirs, which may not be until June or July. On top of long lines, Cape Town has been warned it will face riots, as civil strife will lead to increased levels of conflict. Panic has already set in and stocks of buckets and bowls have run out in hardware shops across the city. People are buying anything that can hold water. Cape Town has attempted to prevent panic-buying and hoarding by rationing bottled water in shops.

In addition to facing panic and potential riots, residents are reporting an increase in health issues from drinking the water that is left in reservoirs. One of the local water bodies has already been contaminated by high levels of a species of blue-green algae, which has the potential to produce toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested. Health officials have already seen an increase in serious diseases like typhoid and listeriosis. This crisis does have some positive stories, like the water that continues to be donated by residents of surrounding cities like Durban and Johannesburg, where they have been experiencing record rainfalls.

The water crisis in Cape Town makes me wonder if this is the first of many cities around the world that could face similar situations? Could a water crisis happen in a city in the United States? If so, is the water infrastructure designed to function in a similar crisis and will our cities be prepared, or would it be a similar situation to Cape Town?

FatBerg, Right Ahead!

FatBerg, Right Ahead!

Have you ever wondered why they tell you “don’t pour cooking grease down the kitchen sink?” Or maybe “don’t flush paper towels down the toilet?” Well for the citizens of the Whitechapel district in London, they received those answers in titanic fashion. Whitechapel gained notoriety in the late 1880s as the location of the Jack the Ripper murders, but in 2017 a different menace was terrorizing the community, this time beneath the streets.

Lurking in the depths of the 47” by 27” sewer line was what experts had dubbed a “fatberg” that solidified and completely halted sewage flow through the pipe. A fatberg is a mass of fat, oils, greases, sanitary products, and contraceptives so large that it has to be compared to an iceberg. This particular behemoth of a blockage weighed in at a whopping 130 tonnes and measured 250 meters. For those of you not on the metric system, that is equal to 286,600 pounds and 820 feet. To put that in perspective this fatberg weighed the same as 10 fire trucks or 19 adult elephants. It weighed nearly as much as an adult blue whale, the largest mammal on Earth. And that 820-foot length? That’s over 2 (American) football fields long!

This congealed mass of waste products wasn’t exactly easy to remove either. When fats, oils, and greases cool down they solidify around all the other waste products in the sewer until they become nearly as hard as concrete. Removal of the Whitechapel fatberg took nine weeks as crews had to remove the blockage chunk by chunk and suck it through a hose. Instead of just disposing of it in a landfill, the fatberg was sent to a biofuel facility to turn it into usable energy. A representative of this biofuel facility estimated that the fatberg could have yielded up to 10,000 liters of fuel and some has already been used to power London buses. 1 liter of biofuel can replace 1 liter of diesel fuel, and that results in the savings of over 3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

A London museum will be displaying parts of this fatberg as a learning tool and reminder of the calamity that can be caused by these disposal errors.

The Toll on our Roads

The Toll on our Roads

Come winter, most people prep for the cold by donning warmer clothing and bundling up as the temperature continues to drop. In the event of snow, it’s time to bring out the plows and drop enormous amounts of salt in an attempt to prevent ice from forming. The winter season can be as rough on paved surfaces as it is on people, with drivers adapting to dodging large quantities of potholes appearing on roadways and pedestrians minding where the sidewalk is beginning to lift and crack. Unfortunately, this will continue to be a problem, especially in the northern states, due to the constant freeze and thaw cycle of water trapped in and under paved surfaces.

A factor that exasperates this condition is the application of road salt when the temperature is far beneath the freezing point. Rock salt used on roadways is only effective until 20 degrees. Also, even at this lower temperature, the weather is still warmer during the day and colder at night, causing the ice to continually expand and contract within the paving materials leading to further fractures and breaks. Regardless of these facts and the alternative products available, rock salt is the least expensive form of de-icer and most readily available for making paved surfaces safe during the winter months.

Additionally, plows and other vehicles can unknowingly contribute to the continued damage of paved surfaces already compromised by freezing and thawing. A small divet in a road can quickly become a large pothole with enough vehicles traveling across the damaged portion of pavement. Most plow blades are set at a level that avoids scraping directly along the road surface when clearing to prevent extra wear and tear. This precaution can sometimes be futile due to previously level roads becoming uneven and lifting during the winter months. The edges of plow blades then scrape the surface regardless.

Unfortunately, even if we switch to alternative methods of de-icing roads, there will ultimately still be moisture that will freeze and thaw as long as cold weather persists, damaging vehicles and roadways the longer the weather sticks around. To help mitigate this, different asphalt mixtures are used in areas with colder weather to help improve the durability and longevity of roadways and alternative de-icing agents are implemented that will work in weather in which traditional road salt would become ineffective.

Tattersall by NV Homes

Tattersall by NV Homes

NV Homes is finally open for sales at their newest community, “Tattersall”. NV Homes (a division of Ryan Homes) has done it again and has begun construction on their latest community. Following the success of their last community, “Rustin Walk”, located in Westtown Twp., this 27-lot development will be sold out in no time. If you’re planning on a home purchase this year, and want to be in a great location and get the best value, you will want to put this community on your radar.

Tattersall was originally a 166-lot development located on 450+ acres of some of the most beautiful landscapes Chester County has to offer. Rolling hills, valleys, streams, meadows, woods and plenty of open space surround this community. This final phase, located adjacent to the clubhouse, is bordered by 1st, 4th and 5th hole fairways of the Broad Run Golf Course (formerly known as Tattersall Golf Course). This community offers countryside living but is only a ten-minute drive from West Chester and 15 minutes from Exton and/or Kennett Square.

NV Homes will be offering a half dozen or so of their most popular models which will start around the $590K price range. The elegance and amenities found in these luxuriously crafted homes are worth bragging about. The Tattersall communities really are the cream of the crop when it comes to affordable luxury in Chester County. NV’s product line complements the already existing residences and landscapes perfectly. To contact the Tattersall sales team, call (484) 849-0090, or click on this link Tattersall to visit their website.