Wildfire and Water: Grant Awarded to Examine Sedimentation Impacts in Poudre River Watershed

Wildfire and Water: Grant Awarded to Examine Sedimentation Impacts in Poudre River Watershed

poudre watershed location

The Poudre River Watershed is a source for drinking water, recreation, and ecosystem functionality in the Fort Collins, CO area. Source: Coalition for the Poudre Watershed

What is the Poudre River Watershed and why is it important?

The Cache la Poudre River (pronounced “pooh-der” in American English) literally means “hide the powder” in French – the name comes from an instance in which stockpiles of gunpowder were preserved by trappers via burial along the riverside. The river is in northern Colorado and is popular for fishing, as well as hiking and other outdoor activities. To learn more, check out a full exploration of the watershed and detailed overview of how snowmelt impacts the river flow.

The Cache la Poudre River Watershed drains approximately 1,056 square miles above the canyon mouth west of Fort Collins, Colorado. The watershed supports the Front Range cities of Fort Collins, Greeley, Timnath, and Windsor. In an average year, the watershed produces approximately 274,000 acre feet of water. More than 80 percent of the production occurs during the peak snowmelt months of April through July. Fires are huge erosion factors, and they create large amount of sediment that can then get into rivers and impact the quality of drinking water. The region has recently experienced significant wildfires and more are expected, and the Poudre River has already experienced flows of sediment. Fires have already deposited boulders and sediment into the river, but this has been worsened by severe, heavy rains.

a look at the poudre river watershed

How do wildfires negatively impact ecosystems and successful land management?

Large, severe wildfires can have far-reaching adverse effects on ecosystem function, human health, and economic well-being. Wildfires remove vegetation from the landscape and alter surface hydrology, which increase the risk of flash floods and erosion. Following wildfires, increased runoff can transport large amounts of soil, ash, and debris downstream, potentially contaminating water supplies and threatening water infrastructure and the communities dependent thereon.

Fires are huge erosion factors, and they create large amount of sediment that can then get into rivers and impact the quality of drinking water. Norther Colorado has recently experienced significant wildfires and more are expected, and the Poudre River has already experienced flows of sediment. Fires have already deposited boulders and sediment into the river, but this has been worsened by severe, heavy rains.

An award from the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed and American Forests Foundation

Reducing wildfire fuels through forest thinning treatments is a common method for reducing the risk and consequences of wildfire. When treated areas do burn, they tend to do so at lower intensities, which results in lower burn severity is lower and fewer undesirable effects. While these ecosystem dynamics are understood, there is still uncertainty about the actual extent of public benefits gained from wildfire mitigation treatments. For instance, if a thinned area experiences a wildfire, how much was burn severity reduced by the treatment, thereby minimizing the sedimentation of waterways that impacts water quality?

The project proposed by SolSpec strives to address the information gap by measuring and modeling the sediment reduction benefits generated by hazardous fuel forest treatments in the Cache la Poudre watershed. The anticipated deliverables will enable stakeholders to better quantify and communicate returns on investment from forest treatment activities and allocate resources for optimized mitigation benefits to the public.

Who are our partners?

The Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed has a mission to improve and maintain the ecological health of the Poudre River Watershed through community collaboration. They work to achieve this mission by focusing on:

  1. watershed resilience;
  2. river restoration;
  3. forests and fires; and
  4. post-fire restoration.

The American Forests Foundation works on-the-ground with family forest owners, partners, and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage.

Specific goals for the project

In this grant SolSpec aims to answer two specific questions:

  1. H​ow much sediment are Elkhorn and Lone Pine Creek watersheds contributing downstream under current conditions without a wildfire, and what would the percent change in sediment production under current conditions be after a catastrophic wildfire?
  2. Which areas of the watershed are the highest priority for forest restoration treatments in order to gain the largest benefit in potential sediment production within the Lone Pine and Elkhorn Creek drainages?

This work meets the SolSpec vision to transform data into solutions for a safer and more sustainable planet.

How Oil and Gas Midstream Is Moving Into the Digital Age

How Oil and Gas Midstream Is Moving Into the Digital Age

The oil and gas pipeline industry is constantly evolving, becoming safer, and more efficient. One of the best methods to do this is by digitizing. In this article, we will discuss the digitization process and what it means for the midstream oil and gas companies that are taking advantage of this process as well as what it means for those that are not.

What Is Digitizing and How Does It Apply to the Oil and Gas Midstream Industry

Digitizing is the act of converting data into a format that computers can read. Essentially, the digitization (also known as digitalization) process creates a digital image that can be used by both people and computers. An example of this could be converting images into a midstream pipeline map.

hillslope threat
Using SolSpec’s software platform you can view your site’s hillslope threats.

Once digitized, computer software could analyze the map and check for slope anomalies and other threats to the ROW. Using UAVs and continuous monitoring services, this data could be continuously updated. The computer could then compare the integrity of past slopes with current ones which could be used to alert midstream operators of any changes.

In the past, this was a process that human inspectors would have done as they could have inspected on-site or through manual image review. As you can imagine, it was both time-consuming and labor-intensive. Digitizing made this process much faster and reduced the work required. Let’s look at some other ways digitization has helped midstream operations.

Data-Driven Mapping and Anomaly Checking Verses Reviewing Images by Human Eye

There are many advantages of using data-driven mapping and anomaly checking compared to manual methods of human eye image review. Some benefits include:

  • An increase in speed
  • An increase in safety
  • Easier compliance with government regulations
  • Better protection of the environment
  • A better public image of pipeline operations
  • Reduced costs

Speed Increases

Yale University Press reports that a personal computer can now operate 1 billion times faster than the human brain. Not only this, but it also works with much higher skill. This is because a computer can represent and distinguish 4.2 billion data differences. Man simply cannot biologically reach this level of accuracy with the human eye alone.

As a result, companies that take advantage of digitization get more accurate reports and get them faster. Speed itself is useful, but it also has many other benefits.

Safety Increases

Increased processing speeds improve safety. The quicker the computer can relay slope changes to midstream pipeline companies, the faster these slopes can be repaired. Repairing a slope early could avoid a landslip while the ramifications of repairing too late could potentially be catastrophic.

The human eye can’t always detect slope changes as early as a computer can. Consequently, companies that use software to search for these slope changes will always find them sooner than if they rely solely on a human inspector.

A Better Relationship with the Government, Environment, and the Public

A midstream pipeline company is always going to have to work with government on a local, state, and national level. Each government agency has its own needs and expectations. Using data-driven mapping and digitized data helps midstream companies meet and even exceed these expectations.

Quick data collection and anomaly checking also help protect the local environment. Computer software can be used to check for ROW encroachment into protected habitats. Any encroachments can be quickly rectified before any damage to the local environment occurs.

Such swift actions lead to better public relations. This facilitates future business for midstream pipeline companies. Conversely, companies relying on human-reviewed anomaly checks tend to be less proactive and often end up having to repair problems only after the damage has been done to surrounding areas. This can make acquiring future contracts difficult.

Reduced Costs

According to a report written by the World Economic Forum, “digitalization has the potential to create around $1 trillion of value for Oil and Gas firms”.

Costs savings include:

  • Reducing time for completion of pipeline goals
  • Reducing slope failures
  • Reducing ROW encroachment and overgrowth
  • Reducing environmental damage

Time Savings

Digitization improves the speed of virtually every midstream pipeline action. For example, sensors can be used to detect abnormal temperatures, so inspectors need not take constant readings. Midstream pipeline operators can access real-time data at any time during pipeline operation, and midstream pipeline services can be requested immediately as situations arise.

Learn more through two case studies:

This reduces the time it takes to rectify any pipeline issues, which in turn reduces the time the pipeline remains inactive. According to PG&E, a gas pipeline could send gas at rates of around 15 mph through the line. Two hours of downtime and customers could find their gas 30 miles away when they need it.

Slope Failure Reductions

Continuous monitoring can lead to a reduction in slope failures, often causing considerable damage to pipeline operations. Slopes can be protected as soon as outside influences begin to affect them.

For example, a company using digitization to perform anomaly checks quickly finds a slope losing its integrity. Upon further examination, this company finds that the area adjacent to this slope funnels water into the slope, causing damage. The company can take steps to eliminate or slow this water flow before the slope is severely damaged. This eliminates the costly repairs that would have had to be done on the slope if the situation were allowed to continue for a longer time.

Encroachment of a ROW and the Environment

Finding and stopping ROW encroachment and plant overgrowth can also save costs. That’s because cutting trees is less expensive when they’re young and small than when they’re bigger. The larger the tree, the more equipment will be needed to cut it down. Larger equipment is expensive to operate and more likely to cause ROW damage.

The reduction in environmental damage, as a direct result of digitization, can also help to save midstream oil and gas companies money. This is because environmental damage can lead to fines and lawsuits. Not only this, but the damage must be repaired, which can be costly on its own.

The Benefits of Digitization and Aerial Analytics in Midstream Pipeline Operations

The combination of aerial analytics and digitization benefit oil and gas pipeline projects. Additional reasons to digitize midstream pipeline operations include:

  • Digitizing makes planning and the allocation of midstream oil and gas assets clearer and more accurate
  • Safety checks can be done before endangering humans
  • Continuous ROW and pipeline monitoring can be done faster and more accurately
  • Non-destructive examinations can be facilitated

Digitizing can help companies to allocate their resources better. Maps created through aerial analytics can be used to discover geohazards so that teams will know what to expect before they head out into the field. This means planners will have a better idea of what their midstream pipeline investment will cost them before boots ever hit the ground.

Digitization and aerial analytics can work together to provide continuous monitoring of the ROW. This gives midstream oil and gas companies the ability to discover issues as they arise and to deal with them before they have a chance to cause any damage to the pipeline, the ROW, the workers, or the surrounding areas.

Also, digitized aerial analytics data can be used to eliminate environmental damage that traditional inspection teams may have in the past. UAVs, for example, can be used non-invasively to access nearby ROW areas. This allows inspection without ever driving or stepping on.

Final Thoughts

Digitization and aerial analytics have revolutionized midstream oil and gas pipelines. It made the entire industry much safer, more cost-effective, and less labor-intensive. Companies using these technologies serve their customers better while earning more money.

Solspec is happy to help in any way we can. Our company has many years of combined experience and is willing to put that knowledge to work. We offer constant monitoring, and 3D models, as well as industry standard reports to help monitor any and all terrain.

Why Risk Indexing Is Vital in Prioritizing ROW Hazard Tasks

Why Risk Indexing Is Vital in Prioritizing ROW Hazard Tasks

Companies understand that any right-of-way (ROW) project requires accurate risk indexing. They devote a massive amount of resources to index the risks before, during, and after each project. But why is risk indexing so vital?

Risk indexing is vital in prioritizing ROW hazard tasks. It helps planners to identify the likelihood of hazards and the potential impact these hazards can have on both the right-of-way and surrounding areas. This enables planners to allocate resources to where they’re needed most.

What is Risk Indexing

Before discussing its importance, we must explain what risk indexing is. Risk indexing is the identification and prioritization of potential hazards and risks to a ROW. This is important because risks with a higher likelihood of occurrence require more time, attention, and resources. This can’t happen if right-of-way managers are unaware of potential risks.

Added risks could include safety hazards, financial hazards, environmental hazards, and even legal hazards. They may also include risks the right-of-way could pose to the local area.

ROW managers, for example, need to be aware of environmentally sensitive areas to reduce the impact of a right-of-way. They are known as EGHCA class areas and are EPA regulated and monitored.

Once these risks are identified and added to the index, they’ll be categorized and scored so that each hazard can be appropriately prioritized. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for indexing risk, so some ROW management teams may categorize risks differently than others. But, they all have the same end goal of identifying potential risks and determining which risks need more resources and which don’t.

What Are ROW Hazards and ROW Hazard Tasks

Right-Of-Way hazards can include:

  • Safety Hazards
  • Financial Hazards
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Legal Hazards

Right-of-way Safety Hazards

Safety hazards can be as simple as new workers slipping and falling on the right-of-way during construction. In fact, Supreme Industries did an investigation and found that 70% of the slip, trip, and fall injuries occurred to employees who had been with the company for less than 6 months. Armed with this information, the company was able to design a training program that dropped these slip, trip, and fall injuries down to zero.

Using analytics, we can assess where there is potential for geohazard activity, like a landslide.

Another example of a safety hazard is that certain roadside rights-of-way might be more dangerous than others. Right-of-way planners could mitigate this risk by installing additional physical barriers that would ensure the safety of the workers as well as the right-of-way itself.

Environmental Hazards

Different ROWs may be subjected to various environmental hazards as well. For example, a right-of-way near the mountains of Colorado might be vulnerable to avalanches while a ROW in Florida might have to worry about hurricanes or flooding.

While the environment may put the right-of-way at risk, the right-of-way could also potentially endanger the environment. Rights-of-way in or around areas with at-risk habitats will need to take steps to ensure that they have no adverse effects on these areas. Risk indexing helps to identify these locations along the ROW.

Legal Hazards

A long pipeline project could have a right-of-way that stretches for many miles. Midstream pipeline builders and operators will have to work with local governments, private property owners and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to establish agreements to operate in certain areas.

Sometimes, even after starting a project, legal issues may arise around these agreements. Different states and localities may have different laws on how these issues are resolved, making legal problems riskier in some areas of the country than others.

Slip/Slope Failure

For most right-of-way projects, the most substantial hazard could be slope failure. This is especially true with pipelines. The reason for this is that pipelines typically run over long distances and will almost always run near mountainous terrain where landslides are likely to develop.

A slope failure will result in a landslide that could endanger the safety of builders, pipeline operators, the surrounding areas, and the actual pipeline itself. Compromised slopes can lead to mud slipping down into sensitive areas of the pipeline. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, landslides have damaged millions of cubic meters of pipelines.

Financial Hazards of ROWs

Improper risk prioritization, or lack thereof, can lead to costly financial repercussions. Many ROW hazards that may have previously been restored quickly with the help of risk indexing might well end up costing exponentially more later on. Catching issues sooner, rather than later, is a priority for any company. It can often save a considerable amount of time and money in the forms of preventable labor, legal, environmental, and other costs.

For example, slope failures can lead to landslides and, as a result, cause massive damage to pipelines, ROWs, and surrounding areas and is almost always costly. If residences or environmentally sensitive areas are affected as well, the total end cost will rise, and legal troubles could ensue. Preventing these incidents with proper risk indexing enables appropriate resource and labor allocation and can be vastly more economical than paying for cleanup, restoration, and restitution after the fact.

Why Is Risk Indexing Vital

Keeping workers safe is vital to any pipeline project. Risk indexing can let project managers know where the most immediate danger lies within the ROW, so they can focus on improving safety in these areas.

Protecting the surrounding environment. Risk indexing can also help right-of-way planners determine which habitats are most affected by pipeline construction and maintenance. These areas can then have more resources allocated to them to help mitigate any potential damage to the local environment.

Profits can also be increased by proper risk indexing. That’s because risk indexing ensures money goes to the areas that need it most. It also minimizes escalation of costs caused by delayed maintenance.

It also helps to keep pipeline construction on schedule. This is because it helps predict potential problems that may otherwise have shut down pipeline activities.

How Is Risk Indexing Accomplished

The book, Risk Assessment in Setting National Priorities, states that “to be cost-effective, a prioritization system must be simple, rapid, and accurate.” For this reason, many companies use UAVs designed to map and monitor a ROWs geography. To demonstrate the risk indexing process, let’s look at how a UAV company could create a risk index for landslips along a pipeline project.

Landslips Along Pipelines

A UAV monitoring company might start the process by creating a baseline map to identify and eliminate any immediate concerns. The UAV could locate several slopes to be rebuilt along a ROW. Slope repair contractors could move in and restore the slope before even starting construction in a right-of-way. The slopes deemed to be the greatest danger are rated higher so work can start on them first.

UAVs will then be used to monitor the ROW continuously, looking out for actual slip movement and to create predictive assessments. Moving slopes and those that could pose a greater hazard to sensitive areas will be moved up the risk index. Upon completion, UAVs can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the remediation efforts.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

UAV monitoring not only protects the pipeline but also protects environmentally sensitive areas. For example, UAV monitoring can be used to create a two-tiered analysis to monitor what happens to the ground and its potential environmental risk. This type of monitoring is especially critical in areas running through or around at-risk habitats.

Monitoring the surface hydrology through UAV imagery and analytics can protect environmentally sensitive areas

Monitoring an area using UAVs will help the pipeline to comply with EPA regulations and any other governing bodies concerned with the potential impacts of the ROW and pipeline. Doing so will also help to keep the company in good standing with the public. This is critical as a poor public image could impede the construction of new projects in the future. Conversely, a positive public image could make it easier and faster for the company to obtain the approvals it needs to create new projects.

In these cases, heat maps are usually created to allow right-of-way managers to see, at a glance, which areas should take top priority and receive the most resources. Commonly the color coding system uses dark red to denote areas that are most at risk.

Final Thoughts

Risk indexing is a complex process that involves many different areas of a ROW. With the help of specialized knowledge and expertise, as well as the latest in UAV technology, this process can be simple, cost-effective, and accurate.

Solspec is serious about risk indexing. We know that keeping pipeline projects on time, keeping workers safe, and reducing the environmental impact are all critical to your project’s success. We are proud to have some of the fastest data turnaround times in the industry. To find out how Solspec can help your teams with hazard identification, indexing, and more, check out our ROW integrity management page.

Why Continuous Monitoring Is Essential to ROW Management

Why Continuous Monitoring Is Essential to ROW Management

An enormous amount of time, energy, and resources are devoted to the maintenance of ROWs. Unfortunately, all of this effort and money can be wasted through improper management. Because of this, it is essential that right-of-way management teams have all the information they need to be successful.

Why is continuous monitoring indispensable to a ROW management plan? Continuous monitoring gives companies the ability to easily track the progress of the project, manage vegetation growth, detect hazards, keep the environment safe, and manage stormwater runoff. Let’s look at why this is important.

Tracking the Project’s Progress

A ROW covers hundreds of miles and the projects they are based around can often take years to complete. These projects must adhere to proposed budgets and timelines. It’s crucial for right-of-way management teams to accurately track the progress of their project, so they know whether they’re on schedule or they need to make changes.

For example, an oil and gas pipeline project uses its ROW to build, operate, inspect and maintain its pipelines. This makes the right-of-way a critical component of laying the pipeline in place as running it is not feasible or even safe if the foundations for the right-of-way are not adequately prepared.

Managing Vegetation Growth

Once the right-of-way is in place, it can be encroached upon by natural vegetation. Managing this vegetation growth is crucial or serious problems can occur.

For example, the EPA found that overgrown trees were the cause of the massive blackouts on August 14, 2003, in both the United States and Canada. These blackouts affected over 50 million people and cost the American economy $7-$10 billion. This entire situation could have been avoided if the trees were simply inspected, cut back or taken down where appropriate.

Keeping the Environment Safe

stormwater management example
Aerial imagery and analysis support detailed reporting required to stay in compliance.

Critical habitat compliance is an integral part of any right-of-way management plan. This helps to keep endangered species from peril and strengthens the local environment around the ROW. It also helps people comply with the FWS, and any other state and local government agencies regulating local wildlife safety.

Continuous monitoring can help the management team immediately identify and rectify any intrusion into nearby endangered species habitats. This keeps wildlife safe from harm and the company safe from litigation.

Managing Stormwater Runoff

Mismanaged stormwater runoff can cause many problems for both the infrastructure found within the rights-of-way as well as the areas surrounding it. Stormwater can pollute local waterways and can cause flooding which can damage the right-of-way, the project found within, as well as the local community.

These floods can become safety concerns and can even open up the right-of-way management team to legal issues. Therefore, many state and federal regulators have strict enforcement procedures managing stormwater runoff.

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, for example, asks sites for their specific plans to deal with stormwater runoff. Once these plans are in place, the right-of-way management company must work within these parameters. This is not possible without continuous monitoring of the area.

Detecting Hazards

Other hazards may pose an even greater risk to the ROW. For example, slope degradation can occur which will eventually lead to landslips. According to Access Science, “every year, landslides claim thousands of lives and cause considerable economic damage to buildings, roads, and other infrastructure around the world.”

Landslides can form as a result of human interference as well as natural causes like rainfall and snowmelt. Unstable slope conditions can occur overnight which often makes them difficult to detect before they become a problem.

Continuous monitoring helps reduce this issue as problems can be detected as they form. Once at-risk slopes are discovered, they can be repaired or modified to prevent a landslip event.

This process of continuous monitoring for landslides doesn’t have to be labor-intensive. Hazard detection software can be used to predict where issues are most likely to occur. This software can detect slope grade changes, inspect soils, and predict landslides long before they occur.

How to Continuously Monitor a ROW

Because of how important it is to monitor a right-of-way, you may be wondering how continuous monitoring is accomplished. There are two ways that you can do this. The first is ground-based monitoring systems and the second is aerial monitoring.

Ground-based monitoring is done with trucks, ATVs, and people. Aerial monitoring can be done with planes, helicopters, UAVs, and even satellites.

Ground-Based Monitoring Vs. Aerial Monitoring

In years past, inspectors would have to inspect everything from the ground or from aircraft such as planes and helicopters. Aerial monitoring was expensive but still better than ground monitoring. This was because some areas of a ROW could be challenging to access, and many rights-of-way are hundreds of miles long making them hard to continuously manage without an extensive inspection team.

Aerial monitoring enabled inspectors to cover hundreds of miles in a single day and gave them easy access to areas otherwise difficult to reach. Unfortunately, this was expensive, and still required people to fly the planes and inspectors to sit inside the aircraft.

Today it relies more on technology and airborne vehicles equipped with LiDAR and photogrammetry equipment to make monitoring activities much less labor-intensive. These technologies, combined with advanced prediction and monitoring software, make it efficient and accurate.
stormwater management example
Planting vegetation is one of the many ways to mitigate the movement of earth on pipelines.

What Is the Best Type of Aerial Monitoring System

As discussed earlier, there are a few different aerial monitoring systems that can be used to monitor a right-of-way. Each system has advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll discuss in the rest of this section.

Current aerial monitoring systems include:

Helicopter and Airplane monitoring. It’s expensive, often requiring large amounts of fuel. Monitoring this way can also be inconvenient for local residents and poses higher risks. For example, flying large aircraft near residential areas increases the likelihood of crashing.

On the other hand, airplanes and helicopters can carry heavy monitoring equipment as well as people. This means the instant an issue is detected, people can be dropped off at the site to physically inspect the area.

Satellite monitoring is excellent for covering large areas as it can watch over all of these areas at one time. It also excels in monitoring areas when high wind conditions make this impossible by aircraft.

The drawback to this technology is that it’s costly and can only provide a bird’s eye view of the ROW. This means that hazards such as weak slopes that are located under dense vegetation may never be seen by the satellite.

UAV monitoring, on the other hand, is extremely flexible and can often inspect areas that even small planes and helicopters cannot. It is also a much more cost-effective solution than satellites, airplanes, and helicopters. A multitude of UAVs can be used to monitor large swaths of a ROW for a fraction of what it would cost to monitor these areas with just one plane or one helicopter.

These advantages make UAVs the most efficient and effective type of continuous monitoring a right-of-way can employ. As UAV and detection software technology continues to improve this will become even more evident.

How Are UAVs Used to Monitor ROWs

To demonstrate how UAVs are used to monitor ROWs, we’ll talk about the most critical component of monitoring a right-of-way; the detection and prevention of landslides. Landslides pose a significant safety risk to the people and infrastructure working inside a right-of-way. For this reason, it is vitally important that they are detected before they are triggered.

A landslide occurs when a slope becomes unstable. Heavy rains, snow melts, and even human intervention can cause this instability. Fortunately, this instability can often be seen before it results in a real landslide.

UAVs can detect this instability as it happens by first creating 3D maps of the right-of-way and surrounding areas. Once these maps are created, the UAV will continue to create new maps with each flight. Early detection software can compare these maps to look for any differences.

Upon identifying a potential problem area, a UAV can be sent to take a closer look. It can use photogrammetry to take pictures that human inspectors can examine. This helps speed up the detection process and aids in keeping human inspectors out of harm’s way. It also helps to inform slope repair crews of the dangers and challenges they’ll face during the repair before entering the affected area.

Final Thoughts

With today’s technology, all parts of a right-of-way can be monitored continuously. There are many efficient and cost-effective solutions to meet almost any management plan’s budget constraints. Continuous monitoring should, therefore, be a part of every right-of-way management plan. It is the responsible thing to do.

Since 2016, SolSpec has helped identify possible landslide areas near pipelines. Our company is helping maintain safe pipeline rights-of-way using the latest in landslide prediction models and software.

SolSpec to Speak at National Summit for Reclamation and Construction

SolSpec to Speak at National Summit for Reclamation and Construction

SolSpec CEO to Talk about the Role of Big Data and Responsible Land Stewardship

Keenesburg, Colorado – April 24, 2019 — SolSpec, announced that its co-founder and CEO Tobias Kraft will keynote at the third annual National Summit for Reclamation and Construction, an event hosted by Huwa Enterprise that focuses on advancing technology, best practices, and innovation for reclaiming and restoring land across the US. The Summit will be held Thursday, May 9, 2019 on 20 acres in Keenesburg, CO, near Denver, and will deliver actionable advice and new methods and approaches for responsible land use, long-term reclamation success, and environmental compliance and stewardship.

“Advancements in data analytics, ultra-high spatial resolution aerial imagery, and machine learning are opening up new opportunities for land reclamation, enabling industries to improve safety, minimize environmental impact, and better meet regulatory requirements,” said Tobias Kraft, CEO of SolSpec, a spatial analytics company, and one of the keynote speakers at the Summit. At the Summit, Kraft will speak about advocacy and uniting industries by employing the best practices for safe, sustainable, and long-term restoration.

The Summit is expected to bring together over 200 public- and private-sector professionals from major land-use industries, including agriculture, oil and gas, renewables, mining, transportation, and construction to share the latest research, techniques, best practices, and new technology. The program features a full-day lineup of over a dozen talks, panel sessions, and roundtable discussions on topics ranging from navigating environmental compliance with the federal and state regulatory agencies; erosion and sediment control BMPs; safety protocols; and other topics that shape the future of environmental stewardship, reclamation practices, and the regulatory landscape for land-use projects. The program also features 18 interactive demo stations for construction and best practices, hands-on UAV/drone and heavy equipment operation, and educational booths operated by organizations specializing in land restoration, construction, technology, and scientific research.

Speakers include agency representatives, operators, construction contractors, reclamation contractors, technology experts, environmental scientists and representatives from equipment companies. For a complete agenda and list of speakers, please visit: https://www.usareclamation.com/construction-reclamation-conference-summit/guest-speakers/

“We’re witnessing a major shift in reclamation in which greater need is being met by greater collaboration and rapid technological innovation,” said Brent Huwa, CEO of Huwa Enterprises. “The Summit is a unique conference where professionals from private and public sectors come together to learn and facilitate collaboration across industries to promote sustainable practices for developing and operating on our lands.”

The National Summit for Reclamation and Construction is hosted by Huwa Enterprises and sponsored by John Deere, 4Rivers Equipment, and Sound Industries, among others. A portion of the proceeds from the event and sponsorships will be donated to RETREET, an organization that provides disaster relief by engaging communities to replant trees, and to Ropin’ Rascals, a one-day event on May 8, 2019, co-located with the Summit and hosted by the Huwa family where special needs kids get to be a cowboy for the day.

For more information and to register for The Summit, please visit: www.usareclamation.com

Media interested in attending can contact info@usareclamation.com.

What is Stormwater Management?

What is Stormwater Management?

What is Stormwater Management?

Stormwater management is a vital element in modern civilization. While humans have conquered much of the world, we must still adapt and manage certain things instead of trying to control them. In any kind of developed area – residential, commercial, or industrial – it is vital to manage stormwater properly.

Many have wondered what stormwater management is, as the term may be used in the news and local civil projects. Stormwater can refer to either rainwater or water that comes from melting snow. There are a few fundamental ways that the earth itself manages stormwater. In general, the water will:

  • Soak into the soil
  • Remain on the surface and evaporate
  • Runoff and find its way in a stream, river, or another body of water

Stormwater management is the control and use of the stormwater runoff that occurs when weather events happen. Some of the different elements involved in stormwater management include:

  • Planning for runoff and grading properly to control it
  • Maintaining stormwater systems
  • Collecting stormwater
  • Regulating and monitoring collection, storage, and movement of stormwater
  • Installing and managing drainage solutions in specific areas

Today, green infrastructure is also becoming common, using things like bioretention gardens, rain gardens, constructed wetlands, and more to add natural beauty and animal habitats back to developed areas.

Regardless of what form it takes, effective stormwater management is vital anywhere that development of any kind occurs, and it is an integral part of residential planning, commercial lots, and even industrial installations.

Why is Stormwater Management Important?

The importance of stormwater management is often seen after problems occur. Failure to properly account for and manage stormwater can lead to a wide range of issues including:

  • Flooding
  • Erosion
  • Turbidity
  • Habitat destruction
  • Sewer system overflow
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Contamination of streams, rivers, and coastal waters
  • Safety issues

By implementing proper stormwater management, it is possible to save money and reduce the risk of damage to property or interruption of operations. Even on a jobsite that is in construction, poor stormwater management can lead to a halt of progress and other issues. In fact, recent studies have found that the improvement of water quality and the reduced infrastructure costs that stormwater management can provide can reach more than $650 million annually.

Additionally, the implementation of green infrastructure solutions can increase property value and add an aesthetic appeal to the location. Some solutions can even recycle the stormwater that is collected, putting it to use on the property in various ways. The bottom line is that stormwater management is a must for maintaining any property of any kind.

Stormwater BMPs

Stormwater BMPs (Best Management Practices) includes six minimum control measures that are laid out by the EPA. Following these stormwater BMPs can help provide the best possible results for any development or property. They are:

  • Public education
  • Public involvement
  • Illicit discharge detection and elimination
  • Construction
  • Post-construction monitoring and maintenance
  • Pollution prevention

Each of these aspects of stormwater management must be followed to get the best outcome. For example, proper design and construction of drainage, collection, and other stormwater management elements will only do so much if those in the area are continually littering, applying lawn chemicals, or taking other steps to worsen the problem.

As such, it is essential to create stormwater management solutions that include each of the stormwater BMPs. And when it comes to planning, design, and monitoring of stormwater management, one thing that deserves consideration is the use of drones to help with the entire process.

Stormwater Management with Drones

The use of drones can play a significant role in stormwater management solutions. Drones can deliver high resolution; detailed images to users and can make it much easier to create detailed plans.

Using the right drone software, it is possible to accurately chart things like potential stormwater sources, drainage, and slope issues, potential collection points, and more. By using the images captured by drones, developers and property managers can create plans that adapt all of the EPA guidelines and federal regulations for stormwater BMPs.

Additionally, drones allow for real-time monitoring. During periods of heavy stormwater, drones enable users to quickly get images of the property and surrounding area, which can be used to spot problems or identify better strategies or needs for management of stormwater.

The benefits of completing stormwater management with drones are numerous and include:

  • Better aerial images with 3D mapping, grading, and other options available
  • More affordable than other types of map development
  • Better accuracy during the planning phase
  • Ability to consistently monitor regions during and after storms
  • Remotely monitor areas without having to travel onsite, saving additional costs

By investing in drones and the right drone imaging software, it’s possible to create a detailed blueprint for successfully dealing with stormwater and ensuring that your property is protected. They can be one of the single most important tools for use when ensuring that all BMPs are being met. Solspec offers stormwater management solutions, utilizing drone imaging, analytics, and visualization tools. We welcome you to check out our solutions on our company website.