Page 1





WATER WAYS Bringing innovative desalination processes and improved water resource management to Southern California communities We Make a Difference

“… the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack…”



A message from our chairman, Thomas J. Campbell, and our CEO, Brian A. Lutes


Michael Baker’s national water practice lead weighs in on water


Watershed Moment

Michael Baker’s iWATR app makes watershed quality assessments fast


10 Wild West Water Ways

Bringing innovative desalination processes and improved water resource management to Southern California communities

20 Rescuing Dams in Distress

Bringing expertise and innovation to Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources to rehab eight Class 1 High-Hazard dams

28 Wastewater Wonder

How Michael Baker and its partners managed the completion of an iconic treatment plant upgrade in New York City, saving millions and the environment – and creating a tourist attraction


A compendium of places, projects and people demonstrating how Michael Baker International makes a difference in the communities it serves


The Importance of Resilience

Helping communities map and plan the future to withstand major storms, floods, sea-level rise and climate change

48 LEADING CHANGE Action Leadership

Combining engineering and volunteerism to show how We Make a Difference in developing countries

52 ON THE BOARDS Cabrillo Mole

Designing improvements to this port of entry to Santa Catalina Island

Signature Signature is published quarterly by the Corporate Communications department of Michael Baker International to showcase our full continuum of people, places, projects, innovations – and how We Make a Difference in the communities we serve around the world.

Chief Communications Officer: Leanna Anderson Corporate Communications Director: Brian Peiritsch Editor: Daniel Bates Art Director: Matt Michalko Contributing Writers: Daniel Bates, Evan Pattak, Dianne Stetzer, Justin Falce, Christina Glenn, Claire Carrell Contributing Photographers: Terry Clark, Daniel Bates, Bob Naik Summer 2017 © 2017 Michael Baker International. All rights reserved.

Cover photo: The California coast serves as a source for many water desalination efforts engineered by Michael Baker.







2 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7



ccording to the U.S. Geological Survey, 71 percent



Our second feature story showcases Michael Baker’s

of the earth’s surface is covered with water. So it’s no

work with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

surprise that so much of the engineering, planning

to restore or replace a series of deteriorated, at-risk

and consulting work we do at Michael Baker International

dams throughout the state. This dam safety initiative

involves solving significant water-related challenges on behalf

also features leading-edge innovation, including the

of our clients.

state’s first use of uniquely designed weir dams.

Water proves a powerful force in nature and for humankind.

Our third feature story highlights how construction

Lakes, rivers, streams and oceans provide countless

management experts from Michael Baker helped

transportation, recreation and economic development

the City of New York renovate the largest of its 14

opportunities for the resourceful and environmentally minded.

wastewater treatment plants and bring it into federal

Not enough water can leave communities scrambling for

compliance. Our collaborative work resulted in an

innovation, alternative sources and creative planning. Too

award-winning modern infrastructure that alleviated

much water can damage and destroy infrastructure and lives.

excessive stormwater overflow, and did so under budget by nearly $72 million.

Over our nearly 80 years of leadership, we’ve expanded our expertise and experience in the technical business of

Our Innovation section showcases a mobile app

solving water-related challenges across our enterprise. Our

developed by Michael Baker for city planners and

engineers design, restore and manage the construction of

developers that quickly and efficiently identifies specific

major bridges that allow people and cargo to cross safely

watersheds and their water-quality impairments.

over water. We design and manage stormwater flow and

Thanks to computer modeling algorithms, the app

drainage solutions for commercial developments, roadways,

offers optional solutions to those impairment problems,

airports, historical sites and coastal communities and help

along with rough-estimated costs for each solution.

our energy clients navigate wetlands, ice, spring thaws and water transfer.

In the rest of the issue, you’ll read about how we are helping an Alaskan gold mining company navigate

Our experts guide the Army Corps of Engineers, state

federal wetland compliance issues; our work in

agencies and local communities in the successful restoration,

restoring a stream and wetland on a historic farm;

protection and management of waterways and wetlands,

upgrading a historic bridge over the Mississippi River;

and we work with the Federal Emergency Management

providing coastal resilience planning for communities;

Agency to map flood plains and educate communities on

solving drinking-water problems in other countries via

the importance of proper planning. We also manage water

Engineers Without Borders; and how we are helping

supply for communities where unmanaged supply can lead

the California island of Santa Catalina renovate and

to shortages, develop and produce water recycling solutions

improve the Cabrillo Mole port of entry.

and saltwater conversion for drought-sensitive regions, and lead efforts to change water management policies.

For us, solving the world’s water challenges is about careful

In this issue are stories that highlight how Michael Baker

across our entire enterprise. It’s about engineering pollution

takes on our water world daily on behalf of our clients

control, proper flow and effective retention. It’s about

and communities.

planning ahead for too much or too little water. It’s also

Our cover story features Michael Baker experts who have worked with communities in California – even

and deliberate management by our regions and practices

about stepping up and innovating with our clients, strong public-private partnerships and good public policy.

before the state’s severe drought – to solve serious

Managed carefully and deliberately, water ultimately

water management issues, including the navigation

represents an opportunity for our clients, and we’ll be there

of water resources, public policy and the pursuit of

guiding and supporting them every step of the way.

innovative solutions that include investments in water desalination plants.

We Make a Difference

/ 3





Micha el B a ke r ’s na t i o na l wa t e r pract ice le ad we ighs in o n wat e r By Michael J. Conaboy, P.E. Given our combined expertise and experience at all

Baker experts, stepping up to anticipate future risks

points along the water practice spectrum, coupled with

and making sustainable long-term changes to mitigate

the crisis-level water issues facing communities across

future damage.

the country, we find ourselves at a nexus of opportunity not only for our water practice, but also for all of our infrastructure design, engineering, planning and consulting practices.

We’ve seen significant increases in our resilience planning consulting activities as a result of extreme weather along the northeast coast, as well as flash flooding in areas such as Colorado and along the

As Michael Baker International’s national water practice

California coast. We not only provide predictive modeling

lead, I share some serious concerns for our cities, states

and other planning services, but we also have experts who

and the country at large when it comes to current

can speak to the realities of infrastructure engineering

extreme-weather risks to our infrastructure, as well as

issues such as dams, levees, roads and bridges, marine

issues related to limited water supply and impaired

structures and water/wastewater facilities.

water quality.

We also have been working with the Federal Emergency

When I consider the continuum of expertise and

Management Agency (FEMA) for more than 40 years

experience we have as a company to reduce such risks

to provide flood-mapping services and flood-risk

and help communities find innovative and cost-effective

education for communities across the country.

solutions that foster greater safety and economic prosperity, I'm inspired by the contributions Michael


Baker can make to effect real change.

As the most recent drought in California made clear, it's


not impossible for communities to reach dire shortages of irrigation and drinking water – shortages that will

We’ve seen our share of damaging droughts, floods and

hinder growth and progressive urbanization if not

coastal storm surges over the years, but we’ve also seen

managed well. That’s why Michael Baker has remained

more communities, with guidance from Michael

at the forefront in California and elsewhere in the development of innovative water supply solutions.

4 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




Michael Baker continues to help state agencies, regional water districts and local communities develop and implement engineering innovations such as large-scale water desalination plants up and down the coast, as well as inland plants that desalinate brackish groundwater, providing billions of additional gallons of ultra-clean drinking water.

Michael J. Conaboy,

P.E., is senior vice president national lead,





Our experts also help communities develop and manage


multi-sourced water supply resources, giving them source


redundancy protection against drought. This expertise


has become increasingly important particularly for arid

Baker’s Engineers

regions across the southwest that are experiencing high


population growth.



funds employees’ travel and projects in

The national impaired-water data base shows that more than 40,000 watersheds currently are identified as impaired, which means they aren’t meeting beneficial uses such as water recreation, fishing, swimming, habitat and water supply. Michael Baker’s experts bring leadingedge research, chemistry and innovative civil engineering to bear on high-profile projects to clean up many of these watersheds. Our teams are restoring rivers, streams, lakes and even the likes of the Chesapeake Bay to improve fish habitat, mitigate erosion and otherwise improve the water quality.

Baker He

Michael Borders which

developing countries around the world. He holds a master’s degree in civil/environmental engineering from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in civil/environmental engineering from Drexel University. He also is a former adjunct professor of hydrology and hydraulics in graduate programs at Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His international experience includes more than two years with the United States Peace Corps as a volunteer in the Water/Sanitation Program in Senegal and Ivory Coast, West Africa.

Extreme weather, water supply and water quality combine to create widespread opportunity as communities begin to face these issues head-on. We’re right there with many of them, helping them to navigate toward sustainable long-term solutions that protect them and allow them to prosper.

We Make a Difference

/ 5





Amount of water that comes from oceans, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and other surface sources.


Amount of water coming from groundwater aquifers.


6 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




~155,000 6 BILLION Active public drinking water systems


Number of water utilities with formal conservation programs, according to the American Water Works Association

Gallons of treated water lost daily to leaking pipes

240,000 Water main breaks each year


Amount needed to upgrade existing water infrastructure for a growing population

Source: American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 Infrastructure Report Card

We Make a Difference

/ 7




WAT ERS HED M O M E N T M icha e l B a ker’s iWATR app makes wat er s hed qualit y a ss e s s m e nts an d c ost estim at es fas t


ot that long ago, watershed quality assessments for states, municipalities and other land development clients would take a team of five experts from Michael Baker

International’s Santa Ana, Calif.-based water services practice about a week to complete, including data collection, analysis and solution options. Today, that same general assessment takes only one person, a few minutes and the push of a few buttons to complete, thanks to a free mobile app developed by that same Michael Baker team. And clients now can do the initial assessments themselves. Called iWATR, which stands for Integrated Watershed Assessment Tool for Restoration, the app combines GPS features and current data from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to identify watersheds and possible water quality-impairment problems that need to be resolved. It also includes proprietary algorithms that will calculate solution options to specific impairment challenges and provide ball-park cost estimates for city, county and state planners.

AUTOMATING FOR SPEED, EFFICIENCY “We had been doing these assessments over and over again over the years, collecting watershed data, doing some desktop modeling and trying to be efficient,” says Terrence Chen, a project manager in surface water management from Michael Baker’s Santa Ana, Calif., office. “We really were spending a lot of effort, although we had done a bulk of the work already. And sometimes, our clients just wanted some ball-park figures. So we started working to automate the process.” The Michael Baker team’s innovation development timing couldn’t have been better. As it so happened, Orange County, Calif., had hired the water team to conduct

8 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




water-quality assessments of 18 different watershed

Among the mobile app’s proprietary benefits is its ability

areas, which would have taken months to complete

to automatically generate a list of possible solutions

without its iWATR assessment process. Meanwhile, the

and roughly how much those solutions would cost to

state had been mandated to assess the water quality

implement. Lantin says many of iWATR’s users still turn

issues of – and possible remediation solutions for – 84

to Michael Baker to provide those solutions.

different watersheds around the state.

“We do know that people use iWATR,” Lantin says,

The iWATR application was Chen's brainchild, along with

adding that Michael Baker team members promote and

Jenny Mital, a surface water/flood control engineer in the

advertise the app regularly, amassing more than 400

Santa Ana office, who was “the science behind this – the

Twitter followers, for instance. “And we know of more

chemistry behind it,” says Anna Lantin, regional director

than 400 reputable agencies that use iWATR.”

of the Michael Baker's West Region.

Lantin also notes that the innovation has served the

She adds: “There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears”

company well as a marketing tool for the company’s

invested in the development of what began as a Web site

water services across the country and to “promote and

and has evolved into a free application for mobile phones.

improve the Michael Baker brand. This has been very


successful in this region [Orange County, Calif.], and now

The Michael Baker team didn’t stop at California, though. Lantin and her team envisioned a greater purpose and reach for iWATR in the long term than simply using the tool to make the firm’s watershed assessment process faster and easier. That’s also why the company decided

we’re replicating this business across the country.” Lantin, who attributes iWATR’s acceptance and success to what she describes as her team of young engineers, says: “The idea of making things better, faster, more efficient – that was the vision of our younger folks.”

to give away the tool – even at the expense of its initial watershed assessment services. “Every body of water is tagged for a purpose or ‘beneficial use,’” Lantin says. “Do you know if your

The mobile app is available free via the

water body is impaired? Is it swimmable or fishable,

App Store and Google Play.

for instance? There are 75,000 impaired water bodies across the country. This tool was created partly to create awareness.” Lantin says potential clients see iWATR as a “wow factor” when considering Michael Baker. “They often have no idea that watershed impairment is such a big problem.” Nor do they know what they need to do to reduce or eliminate the impairment.

We Make a Difference

/ 9





WAT E R WAYS B r i ng in g in n ova t ive de s a l i na t io n p ro ce s s es and i m pr oved wa t e r re s ource mana g e me n t t o So u t hern C a l i fo r n ia co mmu n it i es


s a young teen growing up in Southern California, Ron Craig designed and built a water irrigation system for the lawn of his parents’ new home. It worked so well, he reminisces, that his

neighbors asked him to build similar systems for them. Even then, he already had found ways to combine his interests in solving problems, designing and building, community outreach and entrepreneurship into a micro-enterprise dealing with the management of one of California’s most coveted resources: water. Great practice, it seems, for what ultimately would become for Craig, now West Region water supply-wastewater leader for Michael Baker International, a long and impassioned engineering career helping communities, counties and the State of California with their water management issues. Craig and his team navigate contentious water politics and policy, as well as issues involving access, sourcing, environmental laws and permitting, desalination and other technological innovation, to generate, conserve and otherwise better manage water resources for the City of Chino Hills and other Michael Baker clients, from Monterey to San Diego and beyond.

10 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




/ 11

We Make a Difference These pipes, which represent the heart of Chino's desalination plant, contain special filtering membranes to capture salts and nitrates as pressured water is pushed through them.




Michael Baker's Ron Craig outside the Chino Desalter, which has been both a successful project and a source of water for another client, Chino Hills.

“We combine technical expertise to package all of the

ended a prolonged drought, while taking out roads and

elements that need to physically be put into place for

bridges and scattering mud and debris up and down

our clients,” says Craig, who acknowledges having to

the coast. Even though the most recent drought now

embrace the three-fold roles of visionary politician,

is considered history, Craig says the West Region still

technical expert and navigational change agent for the

is challenged with a lack of potable water to meet an

company’s clients, particularly through what he calls

ever-growing population. Many of the systems now

“concept” projects.

are vulnerable because of aging infrastructure and the

“Institutionally, technically and environmentally, we bring

potential for seismic activity in the region.

a high level of expertise in all of these areas,” says Craig,

Still, long before the latest drought, Michael Baker teams

who is based in Michael Baker’s Temecula, Calif., office.

from Temecula, Santa Ana, San Diego, Rancho Cordova

“We know there will be changes. We’ll have to help our

and other California offices had been working closely

clients navigate through each wave, but we’ll bring you

with the state, local communities, water basin boards,

through it.”

water districts and other fiercely territorial political

Adds Anna Lantin, director of Michael Baker’s West Region: “We’ve had to wear many hats, from technical, community planning, and outreach. But we also live and play in these watersheds, so we have a personal stake in

entities to identify alternative sources of water, from seawater and brackish groundwater to storm runoff, recycled wastewater and surface water imported from other watersheds.

managing them.”

Then Michael Baker engineers and planners help


clients develop long-term plans – and in some cases

As of this past spring, heavy rains and record snow packs from northern California to the southern part of the state

12 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

new technologies – for securing sustainable sources of drinking water.









These conditions further propel the need for Michael

environmental studies, design, regulatory permitting,

Baker teams to help clients overcome complex political,

construction management, economic analysis and pilot

design, regulatory and other formidable challenges.

testing over the last several decades in efforts that have led to the development of a long list of sometimes politically charged projects to desalinate seawater and brackish groundwater (water with high levels of salt and nitrates due largely to decades of agricultural operations).

“We have faced one wave after another of hurdles with regulatory agencies, stakeholders, construction solutions, even basic design,” Craig once said in describing a typical large-scale water project involving multiple agencies, water sources and communities. “Collaboration

Among them: The Coastal Water Project in Monterey

is the key in overcoming every hurdle. We just roll up our

Bay, the Poseidon Seawater Desalination Project EIR

sleeves and work side by side through every challenge.”

in Huntington Beach, the Beverly Hills Groundwater Project, the Camp Pendleton intake pilot testing project


(see sidebar article), and, perhaps most prominently, two

The City of Chino Hills, located in the hills southeast

Chino desalination plants.

of Los Angeles, probably understands the importance

Reverse Osmosis Plant, the Mojave Water Agency R3

At the same time, Michael Baker teams have helped the likes of San Diego and other cities and towns with efforts to completely recycle their wastewater for either reuse or as a source of revenue, selling the treated water to other communities in times of surplus as part of their

of collaboration, long-term planning, investment and engineering guidance more than most communities in the region, thanks in large part to Craig and his Michael Baker team. And a one-time crisis that left the city with virtually no water.

own water source planning programs. All have required

“There was an environment of minimal competencies”

major investments by state and local governments, as

with regard to sound water supply planning and

well as various public agencies that control watersheds

management," Craig says of Chino Hills during that crisis.

and manage groundwater basins and regional and local

“There was a lack of communication between operations

water districts.

and engineering staff and City Hall and no collaboration with surrounding agencies.”

“Collaboration is the key in overcoming every hurdle. We just roll up our sleeves and work side by side through every challenge.”

Initially, the city drilled more wells into the ground and built more above-ground water storage facilities in an effort to meet its growing demands. As a result, Craig says, the city said it had increased its water supply capacity to 19 million gallons a day. “In reality, it was closer to only 8 million gallons a day of sustained supply,” Craig says. “And when heavy Santa Ana conditions would set in, with 90- to 100-degree weather, certain water tanks would be bone dry for three to four days at a time, and major water customers had

Ron Craig | Michael Baker International

to be shut off.” The City of Chino Hills hired Craig and his team in 1996

“Water is getting expensive to secure and treat,” says

to resolve the water crisis and align the city with a more

Lantin in response to such investments. “It’s rare, and the

sustainable supply management plan. Craig and the

sources of water are very limited here.”

Michael Baker team have served the city ever since.

We Make a Difference

/ 13


14 /



S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




/ 15

We Make a stacks Difference Inside the Chino Desalter plant, where high-powered pumps circulate brackish groundwater through of pipes filled with filtering membranes.




“One of the best investments the City of Chino Hills

As it so happens, SAWPA had been working to secure

makes is in having Michael Baker’s Ron Craig on its

funding partners and “subscribers” that would support

team,” says Nadeem Majaj, director of public works and

efforts to build and later expand a desalination plant

city engineer for the city over the last five years. “Mr.

in Chino, not far from Chino Hills. Michael Baker also

Craig has led the water efforts on behalf of this city for

would have the opportunity to provide engineering

decades and on multiple fronts. Through innovation and

and other services separately for the Chino Desalter

diplomacy, Ron and the city staff rescued the city.”

projects to SAWPA and, more recently, the Chino Disalter

Adds Craig about the moment he and his team stepped

Authority (CDA).

in to help: “We had to lead – where do we find water?”

The desalters’ role: to desalinate a local and plentiful


source of groundwater within the watershed, “cleaning

This was where Craig’s knowledge of the politics and

and dairy farms,” Craig says. “There was a legacy build-

economics of water management in southern California

up of nitrates and salts from fertilizers and manure.”

came in handy. Craig, pursuing a balance of diplomacy, negotiation and advocacy on behalf of Chino Hills, began interactions with the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA), which was made up of “a

up legacy groundwater pollution from citrus agriculture

Following considerable negotiations, Chino Hills agreed to subscribe to the desalination plant, which would desalinate and treat water for potable use and pipe it to

lot of wholesale agencies” within the watershed of the Santa Ana River.

Michael Baker's Ron Craig, right, with Nadeem Majaj, director of public works for client Chino Hills, Calif., outside city hall.

16 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




Outside at the Chino Desalter, which provides potable water for Chino Hills, Calif., and other communities.

Chino Hills for use and storage. Initially, that subscription

“Without that, we would have had to import water, and we

arrangement supplied upwards of one-quarter of the

already were pulling capacity from our wells,” Majaj explains.

city’s overall water supply demands. Today, that number


has climbed to nearly 30 percent, Majaj says. “With his extreme technical knowledge and diplomacy, Ron was able to negotiate the construction and coownership of water lines and wells,” Majaj says. “And Ron now represents us on the Chino Desalter Authority as one of the entities and at the Chino Basin Watermaster supporting regional partnerships and management.” Under the current agreement, Majaj says, Chino Hills is entitled to 17 percent of the treated water that has been processed through the desalination plant, which amounts to an estimated 4,200-acre-feet of water annually.

As Craig and his team had calculated, the ultra-clean desalinated and treated water not only replenished Chino Hills’ storage facilities and supplemented the city’s own well water, it also blended with the well water, substantially improving the overall quality of the blended water for residents over what they had been receiving without the desalter subscription. Given the severe drought of the last several years, the desalter-supplied water also provided an additional source of water that allowed Chino Hills to continue to provide water for residents without the imposition of severe austerity measures experienced by residents elsewhere in the state.

We Make a Difference

/ 17




“The city fared very well because of our multiple sources of water, thanks to people like Ron Craig,” Majaj says. “We have been able to withstand the recent severe drought and are confident that we will continue to do so in the future.” Still, he continues, the city did elevate its drought-alert stage to a Level 3 during the drought, rationing water used outdoors to two days a week. Moreover, the city itself took steps to reduce its own water use, including changing public landscapes to include more-drought-

“One of the best investments the City of Chino Hills makes is in having Michael Baker’s Ron Craig on its team.”

resistant plants and shrubs. Those measures reduced the city’s own water use by 50 percent, according to Majaj.

Nadeem Majaj | City of Chino Hills, Calif.

“We actually were able to save 28 percent in 2014 over the amount of water we used in 2013,” Majaj says of the

wastewater and then sell it back to the city as recycled,

city’s water conservation efforts. “So we never had to

providing yet another source of local water.

worry about running out of water.”

Water agencies throughout the West Region, Craig says,

That goes for the future as well. “The state has

face difficult decisions on how much diversity of supply,

determined that the drought is over, but we’re continuing

redundancy and sustainability to their portfolios they

with certain conservation mandates,” Majaj says of the

can afford.

combination of water source diversity and conservation efforts. “It’s absolutely needed. [The drought] is really never over. It’s cyclical. It could be a very short time before it happens again, and it could be even more severe next time.”

“It’s about water security,” Craig says of his team’s efforts with Chino Hills and other cities in the region, as well as with the company’s work with the Chino Desalter and other desalination plants. “It’s about reliability and redundancy. We help provide for them more diversity in

Adding to the desalter-treated water, Craig also secured

their water portfolios and acquire more water rights. For

for Chino Hills a seven-year agreement with a regional

Chino Hills, we got way ahead of the curve.”

sewage treatment agency to treat all of the city’s

8,000,000,000 gallons of water desalinated by the Chino Desalter Authority in fiscal year 2016 for its eight member water agencies

18 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




INTAKE TESTING CHALLENGES Seawater desalination intake pilot program at MCB Camp Pendleton Engineer Makrom Shatila, P.E., a life-long San Diego resident and project manager with Michael Baker International’s water supply-wastewater practice, says he is a “born environmental guy” with a passion for seawater desalination.

much need for pre-treatment of the seawater. The other key benefit to subsurface intakes is minimal impacts to the ocean's critical habitat balance. Given the beach location, Shatila’s team has had to exercise its share of patience in getting started.

So when he was given the opportunity to serve as project manager of a seawater desalination intake testing program on a beach at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton for the San Diego County Water Authority, he jumped right in. “I’m extremely excited about it,” Shatila, who works out of Michael Baker’s San Diego office, says of the project, which, he adds, will break ground this year. “Over the last 12 years, I have had my hand in pretty much every seawater desalination project in California, whether it be fatal flaw analysis, feasibility, conceptual design, permitting, etc. I’ve been able to be immersed in it.” To complete this project, Shatila and his team will install and study two different intake designs that temporarily will draw seawater from the Pacific Ocean. The facility then will measure the quality of the “feedwater” produced by each of the intakes, as well as the performance of the pre-treatment and desalination process associated with each intake. The first intake is an open-ocean system consisting of a wedge-wire intake screen capable of drawing an estimated 20 gallons per minute (gpm) of seawater. The intake will be placed roughly 3,000 feet from shore at a water depth of about 40 feet. A second subsurface intake, capable of 20 gpm, will consist of a micro-porous pipe located 20 to 30 feet under the seafloor, installed using horizontal directional drilling. This system, Shatila says, should produce high-quality feedwater, without

“There always are several [environmental] issues when dealing with sensitive habitats, and intake/ discharge associated with the ocean,” Shatila explains. “The project had been pushed back a year due to permitting challenges.” Among them, he says, were the nesting seasons for the Least Tern and Snowy Plover birds and the fact that this project, albeit temporary and portable, had to follow some regulatory agencies’ permitting processes similar to the lengthy process required for full-scale desalination plants. Still, that hasn’t dampened Shatila’s enthusiasm for the project. “To work on seawater desal projects and help solve water issues in southern California,” he says, “I’m fortunate to be able to do that.”

We Make a Difference

/ 19




and 2Samantha 0 / Cothern S I G N AT U RGary E - SHarsanye, U M M E RP.E., 2 0 1from 7 the Ohio Department of Natural Resources survey the Mt. Gilead dam construction site.


DAMS IN DI ST RE S S B ri ngi ng expert i s e and i nnovat i o n to Ohi o’s D epartment of Natural R e s o urces t o rehab ei ght C las s 1 Hi gh-Hazard dams


he state of Ohio justifiably takes pride in its many picturesque lakes, a statewide natural resource that offers an abundance of outdoor recreation experiences such as fishing, boating, swimming, camping

and renting cabins to Ohio residents and tourists. They also represent an important economic driver for the state. Behind the scenes of this state’s beautiful – and economically valuable – natural resources, danger lurked among some of the lakes’ earthen dams, which were seeping, showing other signs of deterioration and no longer meeting the safety regulations for Class I dams. So in 2011, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which regulates more than 1,500 dams, launched a $230 million statewide Dam Safety Initiative to rehabilitate dams and bring them into compliance with state safety regulations. One of ODNR’s first actions was to significantly expedite the design schedule of three critical dams for which Michael Baker International previously had developed preliminary designs. Michael Baker has been working with the ODNR and other partners ever since to help save the dams and ensure the future stability of the state’s water-based recreation resources. In total, the ODNR has engaged Michael Baker to work on eight dams across the state, including one at-risk dam where hundreds of homes had been built, helping ODNR to mitigate some of the most serious deterioration hazards and protect homeowners downstream of the dams.

We Make a Difference

/ 21




James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, center, talks with Michael Baker's Chad Davis and Mosser Construction's Sean Kelly, right, superintendent of construction on the Mt. Gilead dam site.

“We’re in the midst of the most active dam replacement

include assessment of the original sites; structural

projects in the state’s history,” says Fred Shimp, ODNR

inspections; hydraulic and hydrologic studies; preliminary

assistant director who, with ODNR Director James

and final designs; remediation plans and construction

Zehringer, recently visited Mt. Gilead State Park and the

administration at Blue Rock, Lake Alma, Lake Loramie,

site of a dam in the midst of complete reconstruction

Mt. Gilead, Pike Lake, Pond Lick and Roosevelt Lake.

by Mosser Construction Inc. and its subcontractors. The Michael Baker team is providing design, engineering and construction management services for the project. “These lakes are tied to local communities, so this is a health and safety issue.”

Michael Baker also has provided design and construction administration services for Buckeye Lake Dam, the highest-profile dam remediation project undertaken by ODNR, given the 4.1-mile length of the dam, as well as the severe issues that jeopardized the safety of the dam.

John Wisse, project community outreach coordinator

For all of these projects, the Michael Baker team also

for ODNR’s Division of Engineering/Office of

took part in community meetings and open houses to

Communications, adds that the scope of the ambitious

encourage public education and input.

remediation program may be unprecedented.

Says Brian Afek, a civil engineer and project manager

“In the past, dam safety efforts were based on available

for Michael Baker: “For Lake Loramie, we participated in

staff and funding resources,” Wisse says. “Our

three public meetings during the design process. Many

administration is very concerned about the condition of

people came to see the design and ask questions about

infrastructure. This initiative is a renewed effort by the

it. They’d been interested in the possibility of the dam

state of Ohio to ensure the integrity of its dams. These

being rehabilitated for nearly 15 years.”

capital appropriations represent a substantial increase


over what we saw in previous administrations.”


The Michael Baker team brought considerable experience

Michael Baker, via several separate contracts, is

to the ODNR projects, given that the company has

providing comprehensive engineering services that

been providing dam safety services since the late 1970s

22 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7


through its work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company’s expertise extends far beyond assessment to include seepage control, overtopping protection, spillway repair and replacement, rehabilitation of control towers and drawdown structures, and stability enhancement for both earthen and concrete dams.




challenges of each dam that need to be incorporated


into the design approach to ensure the most cost-

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Dam

effective solution is developed.

Safety Program has drawn widespread recognition

This wide array of expertise is required, given the unique

“They may look like cookie-cutter solutions,” says Joe Kudritz, Michael Baker’s technical design lead, “but each had its own issues — some with underlying layers of rock, for example, and some with soil. We are also required to not change the discharge capacity of spillways so

from industry professionals. The ODNR, for instance, won the 2016 Midwest Region Award of Merit from the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, a national organization, for its commitment to dam safety.

that they maintain similar flows of up to the 100-year event. We have also had to maintain lake levels during construction for several of the projects.” The Michael Baker team drew on its collective experience to devise creative and cost-effective solutions for the dams’ particular structural deficiencies. At Mt. Gilead and Roosevelt Lake, for example, the Michael Baker team designed a repair solution that would anchor the existing training walls into soil, rather than demolishing the existing walls and replacing them with new structures. At Roosevelt alone, this design approach saved more than $1 million in construction costs while providing the desired dam safety and stability. “The Mt. Gilead Dam project was a unique rebuild of a dam,” says Jacob Bench, a civil associate from Michael Baker’s Columbus office and construction project representative for the Mt. Gilead dam project. “Most of the time, we’re trying to salvage an existing dam;

Best of all, ODNR officials say, the program has

however, this was not a salvageable dam. We did a lot

allowed Ohio to improve some of its premier

of work in a very tight project site to completely replace

recreational and tourist attractions, secure in the

the spillway and embankment of the dam. I’ve probably

knowledge that those who wish to enjoy these

gained more experience in one year here than on any

jewels, or live near them, can do so safely.

other project.” At Lake Loramie, Michael Baker altered the location of the spillway and identified other value-engineering ideas such as the use of a flood wall, as opposed to a large embankment, which reduced the amount of property required from an adjacent farmland to tie the existing

We Make a Difference

/ 23

Building the dam at Mt. Gilead, Ohio.





LABYRINTH SPILLWAYS To meet the challenge of cost-effectively increasing

community meetings. That outreach was the key to

spillway capacity at several Ohio lakes, Michael Baker

stakeholder understanding and buy-in.

International recommended the use of labyrinth spillways, an innovative spillway design that allows for greatly increased spillway capacity in a more compact footprint.

says John Wisse, project community outreach coordinator for ODNR’s Division of Engineering/Office

The Michael Baker

of Communications. “The approach we took was, let’s

team previously had

listen to options, have lots of discussions — that’s what

developed a similar

makes for a great relationship. Michael Baker was able



to share with us the advantages of this design approach.

at Pennsylvania’s

When people learned that labyrinth design would enable


us to discharge water more efficiently, they were very


Dam, which is set for 2018 construction. The


spillway approach

Michael Baker's Jacob Bench and his 3D labyrinth dam models.

“It’s not a common design in this part of the country,”

positive in their response.” Yet another innovation was utilization of 3D design to provide a close-up look at critical dam components.

has allowed for

“It helped us visualize aspects of the project like water



stops, which are included at joints within the spillway to

savings at Ohio’s

prohibit water from migrating through the joints,” says

Blue Rock Lake,

Joe Kudritz, technical design lead for Michael Baker. The

Mt. Gilead Lake

Michael Baker team took its 3D designs one step further,

and Lake Loramie.

printing out 3D renderings of its plans and sharing them

“It’s not a brand

with the community at public presentations.

new technology,

“They’re easier for the client and the public to understand

but Mt. Gilead

what the project will look like when it is completed,”

will be the first labyrinth spillway constructed in Ohio,”

says Brian Afek, a civil engineer and project manager

reports Jared Deible, Michael Baker’s water practice

for Michael Baker. “These were true representations of

lead in the company’s Pittsburgh office. “They enable

the projects and not the typical bunch of black and white

you to add spillway capacity while reducing the overall

lines on a set of plans.”

footprint of the structure, resulting in a more costeffective solution.”

Michael Baker’s Jacob Bench, site representative at the

Michael Baker explained the benefits of labyrinth

produce 12-inch plastic models of the labyrinth spillways

spillways — first to the Ohio Department of Natural

to help ODNR and contractors visualize the designs.

Resources (ODNR), then to the public at a number of

26 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

Mt. Gilead site, also leveraged 3D printing capabilities to




embankment to a new spillway. This flood wall served the

on-site project engineer was key to providing constant

same purpose and significantly reduced the acreage to

communication between all parties involved.

be acquired, resulting in $300,000 in savings to ODNR.

success of the project was attributed to the open lines


of communication among all stakeholders, including the

For the remediation of Buckeye Lake Dam, an

and the emergency permitting process accelerated the

embankment more than 4 miles long that had been

project by at least a year.”


ODNR, engineers, construction manager and the public. It shaved four months off the construction timetable,

built originally in the 1830s — Wisse calls it “probably the most unique dam structure in this part of the world” — Michael Baker partnered with Gannett Fleming to provide services that included civil design aspects of the project, construction administration, interface with the public, and permitting assistance, which was handled in an unusual way. “The Army Corps of Engineers performed a study of the dam for ODNR and determined that Buckeye was in imminent danger of failure,” explains Chad Davis, Michael Baker’s vice president and practice manager of infrastructure in the Pittsburgh office, noting the

A stream is diverted while workers build the new Mt. Gilead dam.

related risk to the 370 homes built on the dam, as well as thousands of homeowners downstream of the dam. “This clearly was an emergency situation, with ODNR declaring public exigency and the USACE authorizing

By mid-2017, construction had been completed for

immediate repairs to begin under an emergency permit.

four of the dams (Lake Alma, Pike Lake, Pond Lick and

That greatly expedited our efforts and allowed us to

Roosevelt Lake) with construction underway at Lake

commence repairs quickly.”

Loramie, Mt. Gilead and Blue Rock Dam.

To further accelerate progress at Buckeye Lake, the

The Buckeye Lake project was divided into two phases,

Michael Baker-Gannett Fleming team recommended to

with Phase I being conducted under an aggressive

ODNR to utilize a Construction Manager-at-Risk (CMAR)

schedule. It consisted of the construction of a stability

delivery method, which allowed for rapid engagement

berm along the entire upstream face of the existing dam

of a contractor.

and the installation of a deep-soil mix seepage cutoff

“With a CMAR approach, the contractor commits to pricing based on drawings that are approximately 80 percent complete, and begins the process to bid portions

wall. Phase II consisted of additional deep-soil mixing to create the remaining structure of the dam, as well as the completion of the top surface of the dam.

of the work while final drawings are being completed,”

“The outcome of the initiative has been nothing short

Davis explains.

“This compressed the construction

of phenomenal,” ODNR’s Wisse says. “We’ve seen

schedule and allowed for a significantly accelerated

unprecedented levels of accomplishment. In communities

completion of the project.”

where projects have a greater impact, such as loss of use,

Adds Brad Roman, P.E., Michael Baker’s on-site project engineer for the Buckeye Lake project: “This was the first project in Ohio underneath a CMAR agreement,

we emphasize that a little inconvenience now is minor compared to the long-lasting return on investment. Our dams will serve a lot of people for a long time.”

and it was quite successful. Michael Baker's role as the

We Make a Difference

/ 27





WO N D E R H o w M i c h a e l B a ke r a n d its partners managed the completion of an iconic treatment plant u p g r a d e i n N e w Yo r k C i t y , saving millions and the environment – and creating a tourist attraction


elping to bring a major urban wastewater processing facility into compliance with federal laws, even while greatly reducing the plant’s pollution of a vital waterway, would represent quite

an achievement. Imagine, then, transforming that same plant into an award-winning model of modern infrastructure that also provides a waterfront nature walk and serves as an educational tourist attraction – all the while completing the project under budget by $71.7 million. That’s exactly what Michael Baker International and its partners accomplished at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, N.Y. The treatment complex, the largest of 14 wastewater treatment plants owned and operated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), processes wastewater from sections of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan from its location along Newtown Creek and Whale Creek.

28 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

/ 29

We Make a treat Difference The Newtown Creek wastewater treatment plant's 140-foot-high, egg-shaped anaerobic digesters, which organic sludge. Northern entrance into Liberty Station




The underlying challenge: The plant had been plagued

140-foot-high, egg-shaped anaerobic digesters, which

by a phenomenon common to wastewater facilities that

treat organic sludge and reduce landfill gas emissions.

combine the management of sanitary wastewater and

The stainless steel-clad domes also would feature an

stormwater — intake of excessive rainwater and stream

artistic touch: exterior illumination by blue LED lighting.

overflow that often exceeded the plant’s handling capacity. During “wet weather” events, some of that


untreated wastewater would make its way into the

To provide construction management services for this

creeks and then flow from Whale Creek to the East River,

complex and multifaceted $1.3 billion expansion phase,

polluting this waterway and damaging the ecosystem.

NYCDEP contracted with a joint venture that included

Following the establishment of a consent order with a major oil company, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 entered into

Michael Baker, Gannett Fleming and Shaw Group. (CB&I acquired Shaw during the project and took its place in the partnership.) The tri-venture, as it became known,

a consent order with NYCDEP to reduce biologic and nonbiologic



Newtown Creek. The upgraded NC-WWTP has exceeded the requirements of the consent order. The secondary treatment requirements of the federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) mandate 85 percent removal of sediment and grit from treated wastewater; the new plant removes 92 percent.

“We’ve performed construction management and design services for New York City for about 30 years...” Iris Giboyeaux | Michael Baker International

To comply with the Clean Water Act, as well as the consent order with NYCDEP, NYCDEP developed a three-phase, $5 billion expansion-



management, constructability reviews, resident engineering inspection,


management, delay analysis, contractor and stakeholder partnering and community outreach. “We’ve performed construction management



services for New York City for about 30 years, including work on the North River, Coney Island and Hunts Point wastewater treatment plants,” says Iris Giboyeaux, project

manager in Michael Baker’s New York office. “This was the biggest project that we’ve done for them.”

and-upgrade plan. The third and final phase, which

As if the task weren’t complicated enough, the plant’s

would prove the most ambitious, included four distinct

location elevated the degree of difficulty. The facility

projects: construction of a Central Residuals Building

sits squarely in the densely populated neighborhood of

to remove all non-biological matter from wastewater;

Greenpoint, Brooklyn — Giboyeaux calls the plant “a city

upgrading of the South Battery and Control Building,

within a city” — and also along heavily traveled routes

which provides grit removal, aerobic processing and

for water traffic, meaning that every step of the project

biological setting; construction of a new sludge loading

required comprehensive and precise coordination with

dock, including maintenance dredging of a Superfund

local elected officials and residents, as well as marine

site; demolition of the old East River Sludge Storage Tank

traffic using the waterways.

and decommissioning of the East River loading dock.

“The location of the plant made it a high-profile project,”

The construction management team also had the

notes Giboyeaux. “Our work was easily visible for close

challenge of performing a never-before-done, highly

to a decade.

dangerous interior lining inspection of the plant’s eight

30 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




An aerial view of the Newtown Creek plant.

“We were running all 12 prime contractors full time for at least three years,” she continues. “On any given day, we would have hundreds of men and women from different trades in the field. At one point, we had at least eight cranes on site.”

MANAGING SCHEDULING COMPLEXITY WITH 4D BIM INNOVATION Because of the project’s complexity, the tri-venture continually faced the risk of falling behind schedule. To mitigate that risk, the tri-venture deployed an innovative

To interface with the public, the team worked closely with

technique called 4D building information modeling (4D

the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee.

BIM), which goes one step beyond the more commonly

Says Nat Federici, deputy portfolio manager for NYCDEP’s Bureau of Engineering Design and Construction: “The community was heavily involved through the committee. We told them up front we would be as honest as we could be. I think they appreciated that. They had to live with 20 years of construction, and we wanted them to feel like they were part of the process, to know that they mattered.”

used 3D-modeling approach. The 3D-modeling approach allows users to view images of the project from all perspectives. 4D BIM, meanwhile, allowed the tri-venture to add the element of time, that is, to preview the planned future actions of any contractor or subcontractor to determine their potential impact on the completion schedule. If that impact were adverse, the tool’s “clash detection” feature would allow the triventure to identify and halt the procedure.

We Make a Difference

/ 31




“It enabled us to deliver the project with a change order rate of only 1.2 percent,” Zagorski notes. “You usually see that in the 10 percent to 12 percent range.”

MULTIPLE AWARDS, MULTIPLE COMMUNITY BENEFITS The tri-venture completed the bulk of the project in late 2014 — on time and, thanks to the efficiency noted by Zagorski, almost $72 million under budget (final paperwork and wrap-up are set for 2018). The engineering/construction management industry has recognized such efforts by the tri-venture in a variety of ways. The New York chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies, at its 50th Annual Excellence in Engineering Awards Gala in April 2017, bestowed on the project and the tri-venture management team its Diamond Award, Wastewater and Stormwater category, and the National Honor award. The Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania named the project “Project of the Year” in the Industrial category. Even before the tri-venture completed the project, the project also won the 2013 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science grand prize for design for the South Battery upgrade, and the development of the Central Residuals Building was featured in the MarchWorkers renovating the Newtown Creek treatment complex.

April 2014 issue of CMAdvisor, the national newsletter of the Construction Management Association of America.

MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL GAINS “It’s become standard now, but at the time we were doing that, not too many people had 4D BIM capability,” says Tom Zagorski, practice lead, construction services, for Michael Baker. “It allowed us to tackle more proactively the problem of having 12 contractors on site at the same time — and be smarter about it. You could see how the project was being built at any point in the schedule, and you could investigate problems before things were built. It was a great tool to look into the future and try to identify problems. It brought the project back on schedule and paid for itself tenfold.” The 4D BIM tool proved its worth many times, Zagorski says, in one case detecting and forestalling a “clash” — an oversized pump that, if installed, could have slowed the project appreciably while costing unbudgeted dollars to repair.

32 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

Perhaps even more significant are the multiple benefits to NYCDEP and the residents it serves. First and foremost, the initiative increased the plant’s daily wetweather-processing capacity from 310 million gallons to 720 million gallons, a 132 percent increase in capacity that means a significant reduction in untreated water escaping the treatment facility during heavy rains. As a result, the agency effectively reduced East River pollution and satisfied the requirements of federal law and the consent decree. The environmental benefits don’t stop there. To creatively use the gas produced by the digesters, New York City and several private-sector partners teamed to begin a bio-gas program that is expected to heat nearly 5,200




homes while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions

acclaimed environmental sculptor George Trakas, as the

by more than 90,000 metric tons annually. To increase the

the first phase of an amenity at the plant that eventually

production of bio-gas for home heating, the city and its

will include a community park and a pedestrian bridge

partners arranged to have pre-processed organic food

across Whale Creek.

waste from school lunches delivered to the plant and added to the digestion process.

Even more improbably, the eight signature digesters, which offer unimpeded, breathtaking views of Manhattan from a glass-enclosed observation deck, have become

“Usually, a wastewater treatment plant is something you want to hide... We’re a centerpiece, an educational center for our department.”

both a tourist attraction and a popular backdrop for film crews. The digesters appeared as nuclear reactors in the movie "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" and as an Indian chemical plant in an episode of "Madam Secretary." Tours of the plant itself can prove surprisingly fun, NYCDEP’s Federici says. Case in point was a series of Valentine’s Day events a few years ago, when the NYCDEP gave every participant a chocolate Hershey's Kiss, which is similar in shape to the digesters, courtesy of The Hershey Company. However, those tours imbue a serious purpose as well. When it hosts school groups, professional organizations and environmental groups,

Nat Federici | NYCDEP

NYCDEP uses the opportunity to educate them about the role of the Newtown plant.

“What made this project unique for me,” Giboyeaux

“We usually start the tour with a 30- to 45-minute

says, “is the huge environmental component, which

presentation on what we do here,” Federici says. “Then

you won’t see on other infrastructure projects outside of

when we take them to the top of the digesters, they have

the NYCDEP. We had to help our client meet a consent

a bird’s-eye view of the entire facility and can see in action

decree or expose it to potentially millions of dollars in

the processes we just described for them.”

fines. It was a very crucial project for the residents of New York City and the surrounding environment. A project

One final benefit: Impressed by the 4D BIM capability

this size probably won’t happen too often in my career.

which Michael Baker and its partners introduced,

“We had to accomplish this massive undertaking while

of subsequent Requests for Proposals. That ensures the

keeping the plant operational," she adds. “It’s like

benefits of the Newtown project will spread to future

performing open-heart surgery, except the patient is the

developments as well.

wastewater treatment plant, and it’s very much awake during surgery. There's zero room for error on a project like this. Without the appropriate resources of a group

NYCDEP has included it as a requirement in a number

Federici, who has worked on the initiative for 11 years, considers the Newtown Creek upgrade a “once-in-a-

of highly trained professionals at the top of their game,

career project.

it wouldn't have been possible.”

“One of the greatest satisfactions is knowing the


community has something that’s a source of pride,” he

Moreover, NYCDEP put the under-budget cost savings to productive use on behalf of local residents. NYCDEP created a quarter-mile nature walk, designed by

says. “Usually, a wastewater treatment plant is something you want to hide or mask. Here, new facilities across the street are mimicking our architecture. We’re a centerpiece, an educational center for our department. That adds a piece you normally don’t find.”

We Make a Difference

/ 33








A compendium of places, projects and people demonstrating how Michael B a ke r I n t e r n a t i o n a l m a ke s a d i f fe r e n c e i n t h e c o m m u n i t i e s i t s e r ve s

34 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7






he historic Lochill Farm in Hillsborough, N.C., has seen

“Michael Baker’s design will raise the stream beds to the

its share of horses, agriculture, grazing cattle and even

proper elevation, install in-stream features like riffles and pools,

logging over the 200 years-plus since its establishment

stabilize all the banks and reconnect the stream to its original

– and all have taken their toll on the historic Finches Branch

floodplain, restoring hydrology and function to the adjacent

Stream flowing through the farm’s property, as well as the

wetlands on the site,” says Scott King, an environmental

adjacent wetlands.

specialist and project manager for Michael Baker.

The North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services has

He says the restoration project will make a significant

hired Michael Baker International to turn back time in and

difference “not only for this critical habitat but for

around the stream, the wetlands and floodplain, undoing

the wildlife and residents of the farm’s surrounding

much of the damage caused by years of erosion, farming,

communities as well.”

farm animals, rain and sediment. Among the damage: the streams have straightened, becoming incised and

The project also calls for the reestablishment of sustainable

disconnected from the historical floodplains in the area.

stream banks and wetlands, including native vegetation,

A team from Michael Baker’s water services practice in

When completed, the work will be protected by a

Cary, Asheville and Charlotte, N.C., was asked to design

perpetual conservation easement, even as the farm

a full-spectrum restoration and mitigation implementation

continues to operate.

solution that would restore the water quality of the stream and its two main tributaries and preserve five additional spring-fed tributaries for a total of 5,500 linear feet of existing streams.

hardwood trees and shrubs to promote native wildlife.

Construction for the project began this summer, and Michael Baker will continue to monitor the restored site for seven years thereafter to confirm site stability.

We Make a Difference

/ 35




NO.5 I N

BRIDGE DESIGN E ng i ne e r i n g New s -R e cord’s l at es t ranki ng re c o g ni ze s M ich a e l B a ker’s l eaders hi p i n brid ge i nn ova t io n a n d des i gn

36 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7





ngineering News-Record, in its latest ranking of

team, which was responsible for developing the

bridge design firms in the United States, has ranked

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bridge

Michael Baker International as fifth in the nation.

Automated Design and Drafting (BRADD) system, the

“Michael Baker International’s strategic goal is to consistently be among the leading bridge design firms

first computer software program in the United States to fully automate the bridge design process.

in the country,” says Thomas J. Campbell, Chairman of

This team also authored and continues to enhance the

Michael Baker. “This top-five ranking not only recognizes

BrDTM and BrRTM software systems for the American

the firm’s long-standing expertise and experience in

Association of State Highway Transportation Officials,

bridge work, it reaffirms Michael Baker’s relentless drive

which are used by agencies and designers across the

to innovate and push the boundaries of bridge design

U.S. to design, analyze and load-rate bridges. Michael

now and in the future.”

Baker has trained more than 30,000 bridge inspectors

For close to 80 years, Michael Baker has addressed bridge design, construction and preservation challenges with innovative and sustainable solutions. Exemplifying

nationwide in rope inspection services since 1981, including 25 years of inspection training for the Federal Highway Administration.

its depth and versatility in the bridge space, the firm has

The firm also is a leader in the use of Accelerated Bridge

partnered with clients on a full spectrum of bridge types

Construction (ABC) techniques, which allow for sections of

– from conventional-grade separations to major, complex

a bridge to be built off-site and inserted into the existing

river crossings, including trusses, arches, box girders and

expanse over the course of a few days – helping clients

cable-stayed bridges.

reduce road closures from multiple months to days, while

“Achieving the No. 5 ranking in ENR is an incredible

improving worker and driver safety by as much as 70 percent.

testament to the talented engineers we have at Michael

Among Michael Baker’s most notable bridge projects:

Baker,” says Brian A. Lutes, Chief Executive Officer of

the New River Gorge Bridge (Fayette County, W.Va.),

Michael Baker.

Kentucky Lake & Lake Barkley Bridges (Trigg/Marshall

Lutes adds that the firm remains at the forefront of bridge innovation, demonstrating leadership by applying the latest advancements in bridge design, construction and inspection to its clients’ projects.

Counties, Ky.), Winona Bridge (Winona, Minn.), Sam White Bridge (American Fork, Utah) and John James Audubon Bridge (Pointe Coupee, La.). The firm’s bridge design efforts have earned distinguished recognition from the Association for Bridge Construction and Design,

“Our bridge teams collaborate nationwide,” he says, “to

the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the

design and build innovative structures that serve as the

American Society of Highway Engineers.

backbone of our nation’s infrastructure for the millions of people who safely travel across them each day. It’s another example of how ‘We Make a Difference’ for the clients and communities we serve.”

Michael Baker applies its bridge expertise to one of its core tenets – giving back to the communities it serves. The firm is in the midst of a three-year partnership with Bridges to Prosperity, a nonprofit organization dedicated

Michael Baker pioneered innovative applications for

to constructing footbridges in remote, underdeveloped

bridge inspection and design, including the use of

areas of the world.

unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The firm was one of the first engineering firms to receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate several types of UAS. The use of UAS in bridge inspection, Lutes says, achieves highly precise imagery and mapping for clients and creates a safer, more intricate solution for inspections. Michael Baker’s reputation for innovation also has been

In 2016, the firm sponsored the construction of a 190-footlong suspension footbridge in El Zarzal, Nicaragua, and sent 12 Michael Baker colleagues to El Zarzal to build the bridge. This past summer, another team of Michael Baker colleagues traveled to Pabellon, Bolivia, to construct a footbridge to connect the community to vital resources.

advanced by its unique bridge software development

We Make a Difference

/ 37




N E W A L A S K A N GOL D RU S H E nd ur i ng we at he r, w ild life a nd w i l d f i r e s t o s u p p or t D on l i n G o ld' s e nvi r onm e nt a l p e rm it t in g p r oce s s


onlin Gold. Sounds almost like a mythical Alaskan

Same goes for wildfires caused by lightning strikes,

treasure hunt, with its vast known gold deposits,

Ross says, noting that his team has had to avoid certain

serious long-term investment – and formidable

mapping areas to avoid smoke and flames.

infrastructure challenges in getting people, equipment and supplies to this massive modern-day gold mining project in the mountainous heart of Alaska’s remote southwestern bush country. Then there’s the permitting process for more than 100 local, state and federal

Ross says Donlin Gold, LLC, hired Michael Baker last year to re-analyze the 100,000-acre study area after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) changed its manual requirements from requiring a “mosaic” approach to

government permits required to develop the mine site.

wetlands study to allowing an “absolute line” approach.

Unquestionably, this would

mathematically measures wetlands, analysis would focus

prove daunting to those

on units of land. USACE determined that, if even 10

working with Donlin Gold,

percent of the land within the unit were deemed wetland,

LLC, to help develop an

the entire area was considered a wetland.

enterprise that one day is expected to extract more than 33 million ounces of gold. But for mine engineering veteran Victor Ross and his rugged

Victor Ross

team of environmental

scientists, biologists and engineers from Michael Baker International, such challenges didn’t stop them from taking on Alaska’s unforgiving weather, wildlife and wetlands to map and study upwards of 100,000 acres for the gold mining company to more accurately delineate wetlands from uplands in preparation for environmental impact permitting. That is, of course, unless team members encountered

Ross explains that, with the mosaic approach, which

Consequently, the original wetland analysis, based on the 1987 USACE manual, identified 9,000 acres of wetlands that would impact the mine, transportation corridor, and a 315-mile pipeline to bring natural gas to the mine site to power the processing mill. As a result, the gold mining company would have been required, as part of the USACE permitting process, to devise costly restoration solutions to mitigate wetland losses; purchase wetland mitigation bank credits from other companies; or pay “Inlieu fee credits” to compensate for the wetland losses tied to the 9,000 acres. Ross’s team, a group of 10 scientists and engineers, flew into remote locations in teams of two via a small helicopter, working with USACE to approve new mapping

wildfires. Or bears.

protocols using existing aerial maps, LiDAR, GPS and

“If a bear shows up, our protocol is to carefully exit stage-

completed gap analyses to determine ground targets and

left,” says Ross, project manager for the mapping and

then completely remapped 100,000 acres for Donlin Gold.

study, which his team completed in 2016 over a 42-day period living out of remote ‘lodges.’ “We do yearly bear safety training with our teams. If we have bears in the area, the crew determines an exit strategy, contacts the helicopter pilot [via satellite phone or radio], and the crew moves on to the next landing zone. They’ve never had to dispatch a bear, but they have had to back away.”

38 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

a boots-on-the-ground delineation study. The team

The result: The more accurate mapping “reduced the actual wetlands impact by more than 4,000 acres,” says Ross, who retired from the USACE a little more than four years ago and joined Michael Baker in Anchorage. “That’s a huge number. It’s a monumental step to go from 9,000 acres to less than 5,000. Now the client, with defined




wetland boundaries, can further adjust access roads, material sites, pipe storage yards, etc., within the pipeline corridor. The mine footprint also has been reviewed to adjust access roads and facilities that now have further flexibility to move around the mapped wetlands.”

“Mapping reduced the actual wetlands impact by more than 4,000 acres.” Victor Ross | Michael Baker International

The reduction in wetland delineation will allow Donlin Gold to reduce its wetland impacts and therefore its compensatory mitigation costs. So what’s next for Michael Baker and Donlin Gold? Michael Baker is continuing to help with the permitting process, which is expected to take several years, as well as infrastructure efforts, including refinement of the route of the buried 14-inch pipeline, which will carry natural gas across the wilderness to the remote site to power the processing mill. Once up and running, Donlin Gold expects to remove an overall average of 1.3 million ounces of gold annually from the open-pit mine over more than 27 years and employ more than 1,400. “Nothing about this project is simple,” Ross says. “I’ve been working on this project for 20 years. It has been one complicated project.”

We Make a Difference

/ 39







D e s i g n i n g i m p r ove m e n t s t o Ve n t u r a C ou n t y l eve e

For the past 12 years, engineer Dan Cessna often worked closely with Michael Baker International as district executive of District 11 of Michael Baker’s biggest client, the Pennsylvania Department of



Pittsburgh, Pa. Today,


ownstream of Highway 101 in California, a twomile reach of the Santa Clara River Levee is getting a much-needed upgrade that ultimately

will remove existing deficiencies and provide flood protection for the City of Oxnard, Calif., thanks in part to Michael Baker International.

he leads Michael Baker’s

The firm was hired by the


Ventura County Watershed

headquarters region as a

Protection District to refine

senior vice president and

the project and develop final plans, specifications

regional director. Cessna


and estimates for the


project, including earthen

him a total of 24 years of industry experience in

levee improvements, a

transportation planning, design, construction

concrete flood wall, and an

management, asset planning and management,

automated flood gate at the

and public involvement. Most recently, he

roadway crossing.

managed a team of 800 employees who oversaw 1,802 bridges, 2,576 miles of highway and

The Michael Baker team also will provide engineering

four tunnels in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny, Beaver

support for the permitting process, fill in gaps in the levee

and Lawrence counties.

system, provide construction support and allow for the

“Dan is well-known in this industry and brings to Michael Baker broad leadership experience and expertise related to planning, design, construction

levee to become certified under Title 44 of the Code of Federal regulations regarding emergency management and assistance.

and maintenance of state transportation systems and projects,” says Dale Spaulding, chief operating officer of Michael Baker. “We look forward to the positive contributions Dan will bring to our organization and to supporting his efforts as we make a difference in Pennsylvania.”

Santa Clara River design of the improved levee.

40 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




A N IN D UST RY F I R ST Drone s o n th e a irfie ld in A t la n t a


ess than 20 minutes – that’s all it took for Michael Baker International’s GIS team this past spring to fly its unmanned aerial systems aircraft all over Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s longest runway, gathering at least 630 photos and other data along the way to survey pavement

conditions there. Still, this flight represented the first of its kind in using drones on the airfield of a United States-based international airport during daily airport operations. The Michael Baker team used its Topcon Falcon 8 aircraft to fly over Runway 9L/27R, which at 12,390 feet is the airport’s longest runway and accommodates the largest aircraft. “Michael Baker and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have had a strong relationship for more than 14 years,” says Quintin Watkins, aviation program manager at the company’s Norcross, Ga., office. “This was a great opportunity for our experts in geographic information systems to assist the airport with a unique challenge.” Watch for more stories on Michael Baker's drone program in future issues of Signature.


20 Y E A R S O F A I R PO RT L E A D E R S H I P


laudia Holliway’s 20 years as a leader in the

Holliway, vice president and national aviation business

aviation industry recently landed her the national

development lead for Michael Baker International in

American Association of Airport Executives

its Columbia, S.C., office, was honored by the national

Leadership Award.

organization at its annual conference for her leadership and commitment to the industry. She has worked with Michael Baker for 11 years, serving currently as a special liaison to multiple airports on behalf of the firm’s existing contracts. Says Holliway: “I am incredibly humbled to receive this award, which I feel should be shared with many of my industry colleagues and mentors and with Michael Baker. These people have supported me throughout my career, and I am proud to work alongside them.”

Michael Baker's Greg Fredrickson and Claudia Holliway.

We Make a Difference

/ 41




DESIGN-BUILD DELIVERY BOOST Engineer Jeff Clevenger, a design-build client manager for Michael Baker International’s West and Mountain Regions, now will head the firm’s entire design-build operations as senior vice president and national practice lead. Says Bonnie Shepherd, who recently was named to the newly created position of executive vice president and chief practice officer at Michael Baker: “With the rapid growth of the design-build sector in the building industry, Jeff’s promotion reaffirms Michael Baker’s commitment to pursue innovative and collaborative alternative delivery projects and to identify solutions that efficiently address client needs.”


Sa vi ng th e W ino na B rid g e ove r t h e M i s s i s s i p p i R i ve r i n M i n n e s ot a


hapter 152 of Minnesota’s Bridge Replacement

To save the bridge, the project partners decided to

Program legislation requires load-path-redundant

build a parallel bridge that would carry inbound traffic

design for any new bridges that would replace

and allow the historic bridge to carry only outbound

those deemed structurally deficient. But what if the

traffic. Then, working around the mandate for bridges’

bridge represents the only surviving example of a

fracture-critical steel tension members, the Michael Baker

pre-1946 cantilever through truss bridge in the state

team added internal redundancy to the cross-sectional

and has been targeted for the National Registry of

dimensions of the through truss tension members,

Historic Places?

among other innovations that wouldn’t adversely affect

You call Michael Baker International. The Minnesota Department of Transportation hired a Michael Baker team from Minneapolis to serve as the final design engineer of record, taking on the challenge of preserving the historical integrity of the 75-year-old Winona Bridge, which carries Trunk Highway 43 over the Mississippi River from Wisconsin to the Port of Winona, Minn., while also meeting the requirements of the state law.

42 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

the bridge’s historic character. When the project partners complete the rehabilitation of the old bridge in 2019, according to Michael Baker bridge engineer Daniel Baxter and colleague Krista Stippelmans in an article for the May issue of Roads & Bridges magazine, Winona residents “once again will be able to cross their historic, iconic bridge without load restrictions – and with a new peace of mind that comes from the addition of internally redundant tension members.”



V irgi ni a u r ban g ra nt p ro g ra m , wh ic h i n c l u de s Mic ha e l B a ke r, wins a G o l d awa rd fro m A m e rica n P la nn i n g A ss o c ia t io n When the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Office of Intermodal




TRAINS AND TRANSIT Michael Baker International is making greater investments in growing its railroad and transit practice.

Planning and Investment launched its Urban Development

The company

Area and Technical Assistance Grant Program to foster smart

has hired Ted

growth planning among select urban communities, it also

Coffey, who has

enlisted help from Michael Baker International and other firms

more than 31

to lead the planning process.

years of railroad transportation experience, as vice president and


national market

Ted Coffey

lead, overseeing Michael Baker’s East Coast railroad and transit operations. He is based in the company’s Chicago office. He is charged with serving as the main relationship manager for potential Class 1 railroads, transit authority clients and From left to right: Vlad Gavrilovic, Renaissance Planning Group; Katherine Graham, VDOT; and Lorna Parkins, Michael Baker.





multimodal divisions.

This innovative program, which promotes economic development and better coordination between transportation and land-use planning in communities across the Commonwealth, was honored recently by the American Planning Association with one of 12 Achievement Awards for its outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership. In particular, the program earned a Gold award in the Best Practice category. As a partner in the program, Michael Baker has served for the past two years as a joint consultant with the Renaissance Planning Group, engaging with community members and developing growth plans for several Urban Development Area towns across Virginia. To date, the grant program has awarded grants to 50 communities in the collective amount of almost $3.6 million.

We Make a Difference

/ 43






Helping communities and the U.S. withstand impacts o f ex t r e m e w e a t h e r, f l o o d s , s e a - l e v e l r i s e a n d a changing climate


othing motivates communities to prepare for

planning efforts. “These risks have always been known,

– and invest in – future water-borne disasters

but they are no longer a theoretical risk.

more than facing the grim realities of actual

devastation, destruction and the expense of a major storm and its damaging winds, tidal surges, flash flooding and infrastructure failures.

“We now spend less time in communities discussing if they are at risk or why they are flooding more frequently,” he continues. “They are more interested now in understanding whether they will be impacted again and

So it should come as little surprise that the federal

how frequently – and what options they have to reduce

government, along with cities and towns up and down

their future risk.”

our nation’s coasts, have been investing considerable time and money in flood mapping, resiliency planning and building new infrastructure following Hurricane

The key going forward, Osler says, is longer-term planning and action to avoid surprises.

Sandy in October 2012. The storm, often referred to as

“It’s very expensive to implement large-scale resiliency

Superstorm Sandy, left more than $20 billion in property

projects at a moment’s notice and alter aspects of the

damage, billions of dollars in lost business and a death

built environment that are already in place,” Osler

toll of 81 along the eastern United States alone.

explains. “There’s more incentive now to look forward

In the forefront of much of the resiliency planning activity is Michael Baker International, hired by a range of clients, including the States of New Jersey and Delaware, the

at what the next three decades will bring and integrate resilient design thinking into capital improvement planning and new construction.”

City of Jersey City, as well as the Port Authority of

Osler says that Michael Baker is providing more and more

New York and New Jersey, the Federal Emergency

resiliency analysis and planning these days from coast to

Management Agency (FEMA), Morro Bay, Calif., and

coast and in towns and cities in between that face threats

others, to study the impacts of storm surges, coastal

from nearby rivers, streams and other bodies of water.

flooding and sea-level rise, and present adaptation

Current efforts reflect the collaborative, multi-disciplinary

planning recommendations. Hazard mitigation can

nature of holistic resiliency planning and design,

take many forms, from enhanced public outreach and

engaging staff from across Michael Baker’s service lines.

improved emergency response or evacuation planning,

Osler notes that Michael Baker’s resiliency planning efforts

to full-scale civil work such as seawalls, earthen berms,

now bring together close collaborations among planners,

and boardwalk levees.

water resources engineers, architects, hazard mitigation

“The impacts of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have seen our national consciousness raised with respect

specialists, landscape architects, the firm’s Urban Design Studio and various civil engineering disciplines.

to the realities of coastal flood risk,” says Mark Osler, a

The transportation practice, he adds, also is getting more

coastal science and engineering practice manager from

involved as departments of transportation across the

Michael Baker’s Alexandria, Va., office and a leader within

country consider long-term sustainability of infrastructure

the company’s coastal and climate-change resiliency

44 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




A rendering representing potential adaptation measures for costal flooding and sea-level rise at Jersey City, N.J.

We Make a Difference

/ 45




Flood mapping of Sonoma County, Calif.

as it relates to the impact of extreme weather and

suggested mitigation and cost/benefit analysis were

natural disasters on roads, including drainage, bridges

vital in securing an $84.7 million federal grant award to

and surface water and suitable evacuation-route

enable the PANYNJ to implement the recommended


mitigation approach.


The City of Jersey City, N.J., faces serious risks due to

Flooding from Superstorm Sandy closed all four New York area airports: LaGuardia, JFK International, Newark International and Teterboro. To help with ongoing master planning efforts at these airports, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) engaged Michael Baker to provide climate-change-impact assessments for all four airports. Services included preparation of guidance on use of climate-change projections; analyses of impacts of future rainfall patterns on stormwater system performance; development of a critical infrastructure inventory; coastal flood risk vulnerability assessments; a statistical evaluation of future airport shutdown potential; and development of conceptual climate adaptation strategies. Among the firm’s more prominent efforts was a flood resiliency study for the World Trade Center in New York City. This effort included sea level-rise analysis, 2D hydraulic flood simulations, and the design of a novel flood barrier system. Michael Baker's vulnerability assessment,

46 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

its location on both the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers. Michael Baker produced 3D visualizations to help the city understand what potential adaptation measures for coastal flooding and sea-level rise impacts might look like in that community. In collaboration with the city and local stakeholders, the team identified 27 different adaptation measures, including earthen berm and boardwalk levees, a storm surge barrier and other ground elevation considerations. The visualizations of these adaptation measures were shared at public meetings, serving as the focal point of the city’s dialogue with its residents about reducing risk and transitioning into a more resilient future.

EDUCATING COMMUNITIES WITH FEMA Michael Baker has been working with FEMA for more than four decades, providing flood mapping, coastal and hydraulic engineering, hazard mitigation, public outreach and other services across the country. Michael Baker currently is working with FEMA headquarters and


across its 10 regions to help educate communities on the importance of understanding flood risk and the value of long-term resiliency planning. The company provides comprehensive community outreach and education focused on increasing mitigation action at the community level. “Changing behavior is very difficult, and our team’s approach to this challenge is nothing short of revolutionary.” says Osler. “We are blending communications expertise, engineering knowledge and behavioral science together to help our communities lead themselves into a more resilient future.” So far, Osler says, the company has participated in 225 community meetings in 525 counties across the United States on behalf of FEMA. The team also has developed an immersive virtual-reality experience that allows participants to experience flooding within a community and then implement different mitigation actions to reduce the impacts of the flood event. “The VR content is just flat-out cool to experience, but it’s not an elaborate gimmick," Osler says. "Emotions are a vital component of human decision-making. The VR experience heightens the participants’ emotional connection to both the painful loss which a flood can cause and also the power of proactive mitigation to reduce that impact.” Often, Osler says, resiliency planning comes down to the



"We are blending communications

expertise, engineering

knowledge and behavioral


together to help our communities lead themselves into a more resilient future.” Mark Osler | Michael Baker International

mindset of communities and their leaders. “Mindset is more important than any particular solution,” Osler says, in supporting this outreach effort to encourage resilience planning and action. “Our most rewarding engagements are when we help break through personal or organizational confusion, and the clients clearly understand their risks, how those risks may impact them, and that they have the agency to make positive change for their community or organization.”

We Make a Difference

/ 47





C om b i ni ng water engin eeri ng and vo lunt eer is m t o s h ow how We Make a Differenc e in develo ping c o unt r ies


ichael Conaboy recently was named senior vice president and national practice lead, water, at Michael Baker International. While

he works to continue growing the company’s water services practice across the enterprise, he also has found a way to combine his professional expertise in water

because she already was committed to another volunteer project. I guess the request got me thinking about my time in the Peace Corps and, since I hadn’t saved the world like I had hoped during my two years in West Africa, I agreed to help them out with the project in Peru.

with his passion for making a difference in developing

Q: What motivated you to do it?

countries. He is spearheading the company’s renewed

A: There were a lot of reasons. The fact that it was a

active involvement as a Silver Sponsor in the nonprofit Engineers Without Borders.

water project definitely got my attention because of my background in water resources. I was reminded of the

Q: Tell us about Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

words of the legendary hydrologist Luna Leopold who

A: EWB is an organization that matches students and

lifetime and our children's lifetime.”

professionals with underdeveloped communities around

said, “Water is the most critical resource issue of our

the world to help them meet their most basic human

I also have a connection with Peru because my aunt lived

needs by solving problems such as poverty, health and

and worked there as a missionary for more than 45 years.

sanitation, and access to clean water. Simply stated, EWB

During a visit there to see her in 1995, I saw first-hand

wants to build a better world, and it has started by going

the poverty and water/sanitation challenges the villagers

to the toughest and poorest places on the globe and

were facing. I also realized that, since I returned from

partnering with and empowering communities through

the Peace Corps in 1993, I had not been doing many

the planning, design, and construction of engineering

volunteer activities.

projects. Its 16,800 members work with communities in 42 different countries to find appropriate solutions for water supply, sanitation, energy, agriculture, civil works and structures.

The demands of working full time, getting my master’s degree, raising a family of three kids, and trying to grow my career had kept me away from volunteerism during those years. I saw my family, friends and colleagues

Q: How did you first get involved?

somehow making the commitment to volunteer their

A: In January 2011, a Michael Baker colleague of mine

to jump back into it.

forwarded an email to me from an EWB student group

time in various ways, and I realized I had no excuse but

at the University of Colorado. They were looking for a

Q: How does Michael Baker’s EWB Board work?

professional mentor to lead them on a trip to a small

A: We have a small group of directors who review and

village in Peru, where they were designing a water supply system. The mentor they had been using did not have the bridge experience that was needed to design and construct the crossing of the water supply pipes over several large ravines. My colleague also could not do it

approve applications from Michael Baker employees who are involved with their local EWB chapters. From 2009, when a few of us volunteered to form the original board, to 2014, Michael Baker committed $125,000 to EWBUSA and funded 21 projects for 14 colleagues across seven countries on four continents.

48 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7


We set up a simple process for funding projects to encourage colleagues to join their local EWB chapters, get involved in the design, and travel to construct



Q: Tell us about some of your personal experiences as a mentor with EWB.

projects and educate the community members.

A: The first trip to Peru in 2011 was very intense and

Earlier this year, Michael Baker renewed its corporate

members mobilized to start building, and we didn’t stop

commitment to EWB-USA as a Silver Sponsor. It has

for the whole two weeks we were there. Together we

been an honor as a board member and volunteer to

built: two suspension bridges to carry water-supply pipes

be part of Michael Baker’s worldwide commitment to

from the spring catchment to the village; a reinforced

building water-supply systems, installing solar panels for

concrete foundation for the water storage tank; and

schools, constructing latrines, harvesting rainwater and

several valve boxes for the water supply system.

a real eye-opener. We had dozens of local community

improving roadways.

Community Night in Huacapongo, Peru, January 9, 2017. From left to right: Lea Connors (student), Diego Zumaran (director of the Huacapongo water committee), Braeden Lukkari (student), Elvira Garcia Alayo (mayor of Huacapongo), Natale Betts (student), and Mike Conaboy (professional mentor).

We Make a Difference

/ 49




Peru in 2014 and 2017 were dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of the previous projects and educating the local families on water and sanitation best practices. We partnered with the village school to organize a health and sanitation education campaign to coincide with the monthly visit from the regional nurse. In 2015, I had a very unique opportunity to travel to Rwanda for another type of water-supply project using rainwater catchment. We performed water-quality testing and topographic surveys, and we administered wateruse questionnaires to the villagers to plan for future projects. The women and children in these villages spent up to eight hours every day walking to the nearest well to gather their daily water. The catchment system, which we designed and constructed with the students and villagers, eliminated the long and difficult walks and, in many cases, allowed the children to return to school. On every trip I have taken as a professional mentor with EWB, we have had different groups of students. June 2013, Llacamate, Peru. Water supply system completed.

The commonality always has been that the students are exceptionally focused, motivated and hard-working. They have become a real source

The community members worked so hard – spending

of inspiration for my continued

most of their days farming in their fields and then helping

involvement. Another commonality on every trip has

us in the afternoons and evenings to do more digging

been the strong partnership with the community. They

and mixing of concrete. It was so gratifying to finish the

all have been exceedingly hospitable, grateful and

water supply system and see the little kids especially take

generous with their time and efforts.

such joy in drinking clean water from the family faucets

Q: How can others get involved in volunteering

we had constructed together. On my next trip to Peru in 2013, after the water supply system was complete, we changed gears to focus on sanitation by partnering with the community to construct six ventilated, improved pit latrines. My other two trips to

50 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

on projects?

A: There are nearly 300 EWB chapters across the United States. Most major cities have a professional chapter, where you can get involved in the planning, design




May 2011, Llacamate, Peru. Bridge construction for water system.

and construction of projects throughout the world. It’s

professional mentor – someone with the right technical

important to note, despite its name, that EWB is not

and development experience to guide them through

just for engineers. Many different disciplines participate

the trip and help them out when something inevitably

in making a successful project – planners, scientists,

goes wrong.

community organizers, translators, fundraisers, carpenters and many others all play vital roles.

Our fundamental canon in the engineering profession requires that we hold paramount the safety, health and

Many major colleges and universities also have

welfare of the public. As a profession, we have the

student chapters. As they work remotely with the host

opportunity to make a difference in developing countries

communities, they can use mentors to help with all

around the world. It’s great to see how many students

the technical disciplines mentioned above. When the

and professionals are rising to the challenge.

students travel, they are required to have with them a

We Make a Difference

/ 51








or nearly a half century, the Cabrillo Mole has served as the primary port of entry for visitors and residents travelling to Santa Catalina Island, located 26 miles off the coast of Southern California. Each year, more than one million

travelers disembark here, connecting to various other modes of transportation available on the island, ranging from bus and taxi to non-motorized vehicles. In many respects, it offers the first glimpse to visitors of the quaint island city of Avalon. The structure and underpinnings of the Cabrillo Mole, located on the eastern side of the island and facing the San Pedro Channel, have endured countless winter storms and errant tropical depressions since its completion in 1968. Those years of weather had, in fact, taken their toll on this port, and in 2016, the structural condition of the Mole’s underpinnings came under scrutiny, sending the City of Avalon into action. In June of 2017, Avalon officials met with the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to discuss the importance of the Cabrillo Mole and its role in the economy of the island. As part of those discussions, Michael Baker International has been tasked with examining, documenting and making recommendations for improvements to the marine structures that comprise the Mole. Detailed analyses of the piers, underpinnings and concrete surfacing atop the Mole will help to identify areas that are most in need of improvement and will serve as a basis of improvement designs. David Jinkens, Avalon’s city manager, says the engagement of the CCC remains very encouraging in securing the future of the port. As he acknowledges, this improvement work will lay the foundation for the next half century of use, including the upcoming expansion and enhancements to the passenger terminal facilities. Built initially as a steamship dock, the Cabrillo Mole serves multiple passenger ferry lines from the mainland and is the launch receiving point for all major cruise ship lines that ply the San Pedro Channel. Avalon stands as one of the top five tourist destinations in southern California. In keeping with the mission of the California Coastal Commission to protect California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations, Michael Baker and the City of Avalon have committed to a process of careful planning, environmentally sustainable development, strong public participation and effective intergovernmental coordination. The completion of the Cabrillo Mole revitalization project, both parties agree, will serve as a catalyst not only to the City of Avalon but to the entire island, all while protecting the existing marine environment.

52 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7




We Make a Difference

/ 53

54 /

John A. Roebling Suspension Inspection SIGN AT U R E - Bridge SUMM E R 2 0 1 7- Covington, Ky.





EXCELLENCE To Our Clients… We believe in building strong, long-term relationships that put your needs and aspirations first. We will move mountains to leverage our full continuum of expertise, experience and innovation – with respect and integrity – to help you solve your most complex problems. We will serve as your change agents and trusted advisers, guiding you and your communities through transformational change. We deliver performance

To Our Employees… We cultivate a culture of excellence that fosters collaboration, career development, diversity, creativity, differentiating innovation and an impassioned entrepreneurial spirit. We will invest in your education and training. We will seek opportunities for you to develop your careers. We will reward innovation, teamwork and leadership. We deliver careers

To the Communities We Serve… We care deeply about the communities we serve. We will give you our best as we deliver improved quality of life, peace of mind and a more prosperous future. We also are dedicated to giving back around the world with our time, talents and financial support to lift up those in need. You represent our families, neighbors and friends. We deliver a helping hand

We Make a Difference

We Make a Difference

/ 55




“… the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack…”

Commitment 56 /

S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7

Commitment to Exc t to Excellence We Make a Difference

/ 57

We Make a Difference


58 /

500 Grant Street | Suite 5400 Pittsburgh, PA 15219 S I G N AT U R E - S U M M E R 2 0 1 7


Signature | Summer 2017  
Signature | Summer 2017  

Michael Baker's summer issue of Signature Magazine.