I left the office last night in a down pour. After facing drought conditions for much of the fall and winter, Missouri and Kansas were being treated to two weeks of nearly steady rainfall. Perfect flow monitoring weather.
As I navigated the puddles on Manchester Road, my mind was anticipating the excitement of reviewing flow meter data in the morning. I told myself not to connect to the meters, but to wait for the midnight data. Our team has been focused on improving the entire process of selecting meter sites, completing installations, downloading and performing maintenance, and – most importantly – reviewing data and making adjustments.
A number of thoughts raced through my head: How many structures surcharged and for how long? Did we lose data recording because of debris? Did we capture information that will help develop an accurate hydraulic model to ultimately prevent flooding and overflows? I should have had a camera in that location! How can anyone get this excited about a little water in a sewer?
When I pulled into the parking lot, I sent a text to my co-worker, Brandon Freeman, asking if he was as excited as I was – and he was! Because for us at TREKK, collecting good data is more than just a job. We’re passionate about helping our communities solve their flooding challenges and keeping our waterways clean. It’s one of the many ways we’re IMPROVING LIVES.
-Jeff Kaestner, Project Manager
In the Midwest, we sometimes forget how lucky we are to basically have an unlimited supply of fresh water. Just because we don’t have a water shortage doesn’t mean that leaky distribution systems don’t cost money. It is difficult – if not impossible – to quantify the amount of damage water leaks cause to other utilities and infrastructure, such as roadways, sewer lines, and natural gas lines.
A system that keeps good records should know the cost of the chemicals it uses to treat the water and the electricity to pump the water. Pumping and treatment costs can run as low as $.20 per thousand gallons for a system that just uses electricity, to as high as $4 per thousand gallons for a system that purchases water from another system. Most, however, fall between $1 and $2 per thousand gallons. Because costs can vary so much, I use $1 per thousand gallons ($1/1,000) to estimate costs if no cost data is known.
With this in mind, we can begin calculating how much a single leak would cost in a year. A single 2 gallon per minute (GPM) leak is the size of a 1/8” diameter hole in a 60psi pipe. It will lose more than 1 million gallons of water in a year. By comparison, a garden hose typically runs between 5 and 10 gallons per minute. If it costs $1/1,000 gallons to treat the water in the 2 GPM leak, that leak will cost $1,000 per year.
Below is some real data from communities in Missouri, as reported to MDNR:
*Cost is estimated using $1/1000 gallons. Actual cost will vary based on actual costs to treat and pump 1,000 gallons
How much money is your water system losing due to leaks? Let TREKK help you determine how much money you could save using our Leak Detection services.
-Taimen Taylor, Project Manager
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
TREKK Design Group Doubles Kansas City Footprint
KANSAS CITY, Mo — Today the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) announced that civil engineering firm TREKK Design Group is more than doubling the size of its facilities in Kansas City with a move to its newly renovated, 16,300-sqare-foot headquarters. The expansion represents a $500,000 investment by TREKK Design Group, and 16 new jobs are being created at the headquarters location where 63 are already employed.
“TREKK Design Group’s years of success in Kansas City have led to today’s announcement,” said Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “This company really focuses on growing its community and having a positive impact on people, and the department is excited to help be a part of this most recent growth.”
The fourteen-year-old company has nine offices across the U.S., which includes now five in Missouri. In addition to Kansas City, Missouri offices are located in Springfield, St. Louis and Columbia, with the newest in Joplin.
TREKK Design Group is a woman-owned business and has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. This project is part of the company’s overall strategic plan, which is to focus on people, especially employees and the people impacted by its engineering work.
For instance, the company goes beyond building a road and looks at projects as connecting a church to a school.
“TREKK is excited to be headquartered and growing in a city that puts such a strong emphasis on diversity and the development of small business,” said Kimberly Robinett, managing partner at TREKK Design Group. “We are happy to have so much support in our mission of ‘Improving Lives across the state of Missouri and in the Midwest”.
The number of women-owned businesses in Missouri grew by about 24 percent to over 162,000 between 2007 and 2012, the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.
About one-third of all businesses in Missouri are women-owned, and they account for more than $24 billion in sales and receipts for 2012.
“Our congratulations to TREKK Design on their new corporate headquarters in South Kansas City,” said Joe Reardon, President and CEO of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “Kimberly and Trent Robinett are examples of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial spirit, as shown by TREKK’s growth and success since its founding in the year 2002. Fast forward 14 years, and today TREKK employs nearly 100 engineers, construction inspectors, surveyors, and technicians in nine offices across four states. Congratulations again to this Kansas City success story.”
To assist with TREKK Design Group’s expansion, DED offered a strategic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation criteria.
Finding the Forest
In my career, it’s sometimes difficult to “see the forest for the trees.” As an Engineering Technician, I am typically in front of my computer, configuring the details of a plan set that a contractor will be able to read, use and, eventually, build and make a reality. I am continuously focused on the minute details of the coordinates of “proposed” versus “existing” infrastructure, ensuring that the elevations of specific items are correct, and that we have specific notes, detailed diagrams and the area data covered correctly. Through all of these details, it is easy to forget that every project I touch improves communities, lives and the wellbeing of individuals everywhere.
I had the good fortune to be reminded of this recently. I’m part of a small team currently working on a project with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to design and coordinate the rehabilitation of 20 bus stops throughout the greater Kansas City area. The bulk of the design has been balanced between Mike Shirk as the Project Manager and Engineer and me as Engineering Technician, with the assistance of Brooks Taylor, another Engineering Technician, and our highly-skilled GIS Team. Mike has been wonderful in empowering me to take a lead in the design and helped me through the process.
At first, I struggled with this project and its simplicity. I found myself wanting and needing my coordinates and elevations, my multitudes of details, and struggling to design what I thought was just a simple concrete pad.
It was during a field check with Mike that the importance of this project set in. We decided to check 10 of the 20 sites in various locations across the metropolitan area. We took measurements to cross check our design and checked slopes for ADA compliance. We verified that the design we created would work in the areas impacted.
During one of these field checks, we spoke with a very nice gentleman who was curious as to what the plan was for that specific location. We were across the street from a grocery store and the stop was on the west side of the street. There isn’t currently a bus stop in that location, although there had been some point in the past. The gentleman expressed his happiness that a stop was returning to the location. He explained that the nearest bus stops were two blocks away in either direction, and he was concerned for his elderly neighbors who have to walk so far to use the grocery store. We discussed the distance of the current bus stops and the trouble people have walking such a distance, especially during the heat of summer and the cold of winter. It was at this moment, when talking to this gentleman, that I really saw the importance of this project.
I had focused so intensely on the design of the project, the details needed to complete the project, and the deadlines that I completely forgot how important these bus stops are to those who live in the community. As a person who drives my car everywhere, bus stops don’t have the same importance to me and I didn’t appreciate how important this project is to the well-being of these neighborhoods. It didn’t cross my mind what upgrading from a bench to a shelter means to people who use these stops every day. This project has reminded me how the work we do at TREKK has far reaching affects, often in ways we don’t see, especially when we “can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Going forward, I am making it my goal and intention to think more about the way each project I work on is helping others. We are IMPROVING LIVES, one project at a time, be it by designing a sidewalk where there currently isn’t one, replacing water mains in areas where the current mains are very old, designing a new road to repair the wear and tear that occurs over the years, and even designing a bus stop. Even if something doesn’t impact me directly, there are hundreds of people who depend daily on the projects we engineer and design.
Because of the work we do, there is someone out there who doesn’t have to walk two blocks in the middle of summer or winter to get to the bus stop after grocery shopping, and when it’s raining, they’re covered while waiting for the bus to take them to work or visit family. Because what started out as a section of concrete in the beginning is much more than that to someone else.
~ Elaine Baker, Engineering Technician
Stormwater runoff has been a societal problem for thousands of years, dating all the way back to the Bronze Age when ancient Greeks started to develop solutions to help offset the increase in impervious surfaces. Although civilization has made many advances since then, the concepts of stormwater runoff collection and conveyance have remained the mostly same – capture the flow and take it elsewhere. What once was thought of as a basic solution has now become problematic, as the amount of impervious surface has dramatically increased with the growth of our communities. This has caused our water quality to diminish over time while putting a huge strain on our local stormwater systems.
One of the unique opportunities I have had at TREKK has been addressing this issue using non-traditional stormwater systems that are slowly being implemented in cities across the United States. Instead of capturing flow and taking it away as quickly as possible, green infrastructure (GI) takes a different approach – capture and infiltrate the stormwater runoff to improve water quality and pipe capacity and increase aesthetic appeal.
Green infrastructure includes a variety of drainage solutions, such as pavers, rain gardens, infiltration basins, and stormwater street trees. The concept behind GI is to collect pollutants, chemicals, and other contaminants before they enter the stormwater system, thus improving the water quality. This is achieved by capturing the stormwater runoff and storing it until can infiltrate into the ground. The stormwater runoff collected by GI reduces the amount entering the stormwater system, therefore reducing capacity issues to existing stormwater systems.
Perhaps one of the underrated aspects of green infrastructure is the beautification it can provide communities. Instead of large, unattractive concrete catch basins, GI provides plants and trees as an alternative method.
While traditional “gray” stormwater still plays a major role in conveying stormwater runoff, green infrastructure is a great compliment that provides many benefits. While some disconnect still remains between gray and green solutions, TREKK has been proactive in finding innovative stormwater runoff solutions to improve lives in our local communities.
Josh Tinkey, PE, ENV SP