The Effect of Covid-19 on the Environment

The Effect of Covid-19 on the Environment

Most people can agree that Covid-19 has been nothing but a thorn in many people’s sides. While it may have been nice in the beginning to work from home, many have come to realize that being stuck inside with your family all day every day gets old fast. One positive outcome of staying/working from home, however, is the effect it has had on the environment.

One noticeable impact is the reduction of Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) across the globe. This kind of emission is typically generated through trucks, busses, & power generation facilities. It is known to produce respiratory problems in higher concentrations, form acid rain when in the atmosphere and contribute the haze that can be seen from a distance around cities. While this is great right now, it may only be temporary as once a viable vaccine is distributed, everything will be back in full gear and most of this pollutant is produced by public transportation, shipping goods, and power generation. To prevent this rebound or limit its extent, we would need to employ greener transportation and power generation.

Another impact has been on our waterways, beaches, and parks. With the reduction in trade and travel, there has been a significant reduction in the water’s turbidity and the amount of discarded trash. For instance, in Venice, the typically cloudy waters are now crystal clear, and wildlife is returning to the areas where there was once heavy traffic. Popular beaches such as those in Acapulco or Barcelona now have water that is crystal clear as well.

While the stay at home orders have done wonders for reducing pollution, they have also greatly impacted the global economy. Many are out of work, and some companies have begun to look towards working remotely for the long term. Some of these companies include Amazon, Adobe, and Capital One, to name a few. Hopefully, a viable vaccine can be perfected and distributed soon so we all can return to some semblance of normalcy.

 

Photos by Trent L. Schindler. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. June 24, 2020. https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4810

You Want a Survey, But What About a Plan?

You Want a Survey, But What About a Plan?

When you contact our office to inquire about a survey, you will be asked many questions. This is because we want to ensure that we have all the information we need to take care of your land surveying needs. Every survey is unique, and the more information you can provide, the better we can tailor the survey to meet your needs. We have been at this for years, so we will work with you and guide you through the process.

Some surveys will require a plan, while other surveys will not. Although a plan is not required, it may still be beneficial. Let’s focus on one of the more common requests, which is, “I want to know where my property corners and lines are.” This can be accomplished with a field survey. First, we will collect all the necessary preliminary information to perform the survey and send out our crew to mark the corners and stake the property lines. For this type of survey, we offer a plan option that shows your property with deed bearings and distances, corners found or set, and stakes placed on the property lines. The plan, which will be signed and sealed by a licensed surveyor, will also show features on or near property lines, including encroachments. This plan can be helpful to reference later when the line stakes are no longer there, or you have an issue with your neighbor and need clarification. Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words.

Here at Howell Kline, we strive to make your experience with us as seamless as possible and deliver you comprehensive results. If you need a land survey, give us a call!

Continuing Education

Continuing Education

As summer ends and we approach the start of the fall season, the kids are back at school (at home), football is back (no fans), and the World Series is coming up quickly. Now that summer vacations are over and we fall back into a more normal routine over the next few months, it is a good time to take account of any continuing education requirements that are associated with your professional license.

In Pennsylvania, all licensed professional engineers, surveyors and geologists are required to complete 24 professional development hours (PDHs) every two years. 1 PDH is defined as “50 minutes of instruction or presentation relevant to professional practice or any equivalent.” This definition is pretty wide open as to what is considered “relevant to professional practice,” and the state board does not require any course to be preapproved, but the board does list general ways that PDHs may be earned. The PA licensing board allows for the completion of college courses, continuing education courses, workshops, or seminars, as well as teaching or presenting at such events to count towards your total. Additionally, you can author published papers/articles or obtain a patent for something relevant to your profession. Sadly, you do not get credit for authoring company blog posts or any business development type courses you may be taking.

If you are short on continuing education hours and are looking for ways to catch up, there are a number of ways to do so without publishing a research paper. Many professional organizations (such as Chester County Engineers) have monthly offerings to help keep members from falling behind on their credits. State and county regulators also often hold training seminars to educate the audience on any updated regulations, so check out those in your area. Lastly, you can also always enroll in college courses, but there are also many online vendors that you can subscribe to that allow you to complete courses virtually, just like your school students at home.

The “NEW NORMAL”

The “NEW NORMAL”

The “new normal”… a phrase that has been stated repeatedly since the COVID-19 outbreak. Most people think that the “new normal” refers to us wearing masks and social distancing, maybe even fist and elbow bumping in lieu of shaking hands, but what about the new normal for the commerce world?

Obviously, many companies are beginning to rethink their need for office space, as many white collared jobs were performed successfully from home during the initial lockdowns. On the other hand, demand for e-commerce skyrocketed for retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Costco, just to name a few.

Along with this increase in online ordering comes the increased need for more industrial space to store and distribute all this product. Some industry experts predict this increased demand for industrial space could top 1 billion square feet over the next five years. Much of this space will come from the repurposing of existing buildings; however, a lot of it will also be new construction. That is great news for blue-collared workers and should play perfectly into the economic recovery of our nation.

Another use that has the real potential to see a sudden spike in demand is “cold storage” facilities. Not only is online shopping for groceries on the rise, but there is a real possibility that big pharma moves its production back to the states to prevent any possible interruptions to their supply lines. It was certainly unsettling to learn, during the early days and weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, that 80% – 90% of our most widely used drugs (including antibiotics and even Tylenol) are made abroad and shipped back to the US for distribution.

If and when these predictions come to fruition, you can rest assured that D.L. Howell & Associates will be willing, ready, and able to pounce into action and get these establishments designed, permitted, and ready for construction. Give us a call!

Mariner East Pipeline – Is Marsh Creek Lake Safe?

Mariner East Pipeline – Is Marsh Creek Lake Safe?

On Monday, August 10, 2020, an Energy Transfer subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline LP, spilled 8,100 gallons of drilling fluid into wetlands and a tributary of Marsh Creek Lake in Chester County, according to the DEP. About 33 acres of the 535-acre lake, located in Marsh Creek State Park, was placed off-limits to boating and fishing during cleanup.

The pipeline project, which carries natural gas liquids some 350 miles from southwest Pennsylvania to an export terminal at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia, has been plagued by technical and environmental problems since construction started in February 2017. The DEP has issued more than 100 violations to the company for polluting wetlands, waterways, and destroying about a dozen private water wells. 

Construction on the line caused about 8,100 gallons of drilling mud to seep into a stream that feeds the lake, which is popular for boating, fishing, and birding, as a result of horizontal directional drilling (HDD). HDD uses bentonite clay, often referred to as drilling mud, to lubricate a large drill bit that bores beneath the surface, making way for the 20-inch pipe. The project, which is mostly complete, includes three separate pipes that carry natural gas liquids from the shale fields of western Pennsylvania to an export terminal in Delaware County. Construction of the line has hit several snags in Chester County, where the karst, or limestone geology, creates difficulties for large-scale industrial projects that use underground drilling.

Water from Marsh Creek Lake runs into the Brandywine River, which provides drinking water to Chester County residents. The Brandywine flows into the Christiana River, and then into the Delaware Bay. The Department of Environmental Protection says there have been no known impacts to drinking water supplies downstream, however, citizen groups worry about the safety of the pipeline during and after construction, as the natural gas liquids are highly volatile should leaks occur. While both the company and DEP say the drilling mud is non-toxic, many residents worry about chemical additives. Even without the additives, drilling mud in large amounts can smother aquatic life like macroinvertebrates, which are an important part of the food chain.

In response to the spill, buoys will be used on the lake to delineate the affected area. Approximately 33 acres of the 535-acre lake is now off-limits to boating and fishing. Boating and fishing are still permitted on the rest of the lake, and the park remains open to all other activities.  

DEP, along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), continue to investigate and oversee the cleanup of the inadvertent return into Marsh Creek. At the conclusion of the investigation, DEP anticipates that there will be civil penalties and potentially other regulatory ramifications. Drilling activity at the site has ceased until further notice.  

America Has Two Feet

America Has Two Feet

(Excerpts from an article by Alanna Mitchell in The New York Times)

Did you know that America has two feet? And did you know that we’re about to lose one of them? The first foot is the U.S Survey Foot that was established in 1893. The second foot is the newer, and slightly shorter, International Foot. The difference between these two competing feet equates to about 1/10 of an inch (0.12672 inches) per mile. If you expand that difference over one million feet, it will add up to about 2 feet.

“So what’s the big deal? My property is only 300 feet long. Why should it matter which foot I use?” you ask. True, for most people, it doesn’t matter which unit of measure you use. But for land surveyors, it’s a big deal! The reason is that thanks to Global Positioning Systems (GPS), much of our work is done in the State Plane Coordinate System. An example of a State Plane Coordinate in Delaware County is: 

(North 224,620.1652, East 2,636,763.4972)

If we don’t use the correct foot unit at this distance, we could find ourselves 5 feet from our intended position!

Many states, like Pennsylvania, use the U.S Survey Foot for their measurements. Other states, like Arizona, use the International Foot. Julianna P. Blackwell of the National Geodetic Survey recognizes this conundrum, especially now that geodesists are in the process of recalibrating the National Spatial Reference System. The decision has been made to do away with the old U.S Survey Foot and have all states convert to the International Foot by January 1, 2023.

Fun Facts:

The colonization of America brought a plethora of units of measurement, as settlers brought their measurements from their own countries. These included the English ell for cloth but also the far shorter Dutch ell, the Rhineland rod and the British chain and the Spanish vara for measuring land, the English flitch of bacon and hattock of grain, plus the German quentchen for gold. By the time we declared our independence, America had 100,000 units of measure.  

George Washington (one of my favorite land surveyors) in his very first message to Congress in 1790, suggested establishing a standard of weights and measurements. He proposed using elements of the British Imperial System, including the yard.  

“So how long is a yard?” That’s simple: Four grains of barley make a finger, four fingers a hand, four hands a foot, 16 fingers per foot became 12 inches and were tripled to make the yard.

Rest assured that, regardless of where your project lies, if you come to Howell Kline Surveying & D.L. Howell Engineering, we will get you started on the right foot!