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Congratulations Brian Dobiyanski! TSPE Brazos Chapter Young Engineer of the Year

Dobiyanski, BrianThe Brazos Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) has named Brian Dobiyanski, PE as their Young Engineer of the Year for 2016. Every year, the Brazos Chapter of TSPE recognizes an engineer for their outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the engineering profession. Brian’s dedication to the profession is evident on a daily basis in his tireless service to his clients. He epitomizes the Jones|Carter mission of enhancing lives through engineering excellence. Congratulations Brian!

 

Welcome Jib Ahmad to Jones|Carter!

Ahmad_JibJibrael (Jib) Ahmad is joining Jones|Carter with more than 22 years of surveying experience, six of which have been as a Senior Project Manager. His diverse range of projects in land, aerial, hydro-graphic, seismic, and pipeline surveying has given him the opportunity to work in seven states. His experience includes large boundary surveys in Texas and in the U.S. Public Land system, GPS control network design and processing, watershed mapping, coastal mapping for surface and underwater sites, riverine mapping, hydrology and hydraulics studies, and archaeological surveys. He is a licensed Land Surveyor in Texas and South Dakota, a Certified Floodplain Manager, and a Professional SCUBA Divemaster for more than 20 years. Jib is a graduate of the University of Houston and an active member of the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors, the National Society of Professional Surveyors, the Texas Floodplain Management Association, and the Archaeological Institute of America. Contact Jib in our Houston Office at jahmad@jonescarter.com or 713.777.5337.

 

Congratulations to TxDOT on A Century of Service!

Liberty TruckCongratulations to TxDOT on a century of service! TxDOT has a long history of collaboration with JC and an even longer history of connecting Texans to what matters most. This refurbished WWI surplus truck used by the department in its early years will be traveling the state to celebrate the anniversary. We caught the truck while it was right down the street from our Houston office! You can find more information on the truck’s journey and on TxDOT’s first 100 years on their centennial website txdot.gov/txdot100/.

 

Drainage Solutions are Not One-Size-Fits-All

Drainage Solutions PhotoIn a recent article published by Michael Bloom and Steve Stagner, “Boomtown, Flood Town Reconsidered: An Engineer’s View”, got me thinking about flood planning and drainage solutions in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. My thanks to Michael and Steve for initiating this discussion and providing factual, objective information on flooding without the emotional aspects of the issue. The following are some general thoughts on the issue of flooding.

As engineers, we need to recognize (as done in the article) that flooding is a terrible thing, and it raises emotional levels that can’t simply be dismissed with logical, engineering explanations. How many times have we as engineers heard, “It’s never flooded before” or “I‘ve lived here 20 years and it’s never flooded before.”

I generally concur that most of the flooding we’ve seen is not directly man-made and the current design standards are working well. In my opinion, the biggest design standard that has minimized flood damage to structures is the minimum slab elevation recommendations, where homes are now built one to two feet above adjacent ground verses inches as commonly seen with older homes.

Drainage solutions are not one-size-fits-all, especially in the Greater Houston area. Flooding is a terrible thing.  In more than 30 years working as a drainage engineer, I’ve seen the devastation and how flooding can impact lives.  I’ve helped friends haul out moldy carpet and sheet rock, waded through flooded streets to help neighbors, stood at the edge of levees and watched the water rise (knowing there was little else that could be done at that time).  I’ve delivered notices to residents door-to-door informing them that they may be without access for days if the Brazos River rises as predicted and attended numerous public meetings where I can empathize with those who talk about a helpless feeling with flood waters rising around them and how much they’ve lost.  I’ve lived that throughout my career.

As pointed out in the article, the area’s understanding of how to evaluate and address drainage issues has grown and developed. Today, we don’t handle drainage and development the way we did in the 70’s and 80’s. In the 80’s we gained technology that gave the engineering community the ability to use computer models to estimate runoff and flood depths in systems more quickly and with precision.  That technology grew stronger in the 90’s, with more desktop application tools to evaluate drainage.  In the 2000’s, satellite imagery, GPS topography and LiDAR technology became available as a tool to use in the flood evaluation arena.  Today’s tools are almost too sophisticated, and the issues can be analyzed ad infinitum.

With all these technological tools in the toolbox, we still design most of our drainage systems (storm sewers, channels and detention basins) as passive systems. That is, they fill up and drain as water reaches certain elevations without regard to what’s happening upstream or downstream.  They are designed to function based on specific statistical storm events and while they have been proven effective; they are certainly not utilized in the most efficient manner.  With current technology, why shouldn’t we start looking at more active systems, where we use radar rainfall to project rainfall runoff through the system of pipes, channels and detention basins and use remotely activated gates and valves to make better use of our existing drainage systems?  Worst case is they fall back to a passive system, but how much more efficient could they be if operated based on real time storm events? Addicks and Barker Reservoirs vary release rates based on rainfall conditions, why not other systems?  Yes, I know this would take a considerable effort, but we should at least look at how the community can benefit from an active flood control system.

This brings me back to my initial statement, “Drainage Solutions are Not One-Size-Fits-All.” We need to understand which problem we’re trying to solve and use the proper tools to address them.   While flooding in the Greater Houston area has typically been from excessive rainfall, flooding happens in many different forms.

House flooding – The way homeowners landscape their yards and place gardens and fencing can create flooding of the home.  Heavy rains that can’t flow easily around the home to the street find the path of least resistance, which may be through or at least into the home. Homeowners need to be educated about the steps they can take to reduce their risks of flooding.

Street flooding – As you pointed out, streets are an important part of the design of our local drainage systems and are expected to hold and convey water in heavy rain events.  Street flooding can directly impact mobility, emergency services and can lead to structural flooding.  The use of streets as part of the drainage system should not impair emergency vehicles and should be limited to a level that avoids any structural flooding of homes or businesses.  It would also seem prudent to identify specific streets for hurricane evacuation and emergency access that should have limited use if any part of the drainage system becomes impacted. The public needs to be informed of streets that are prone to flooding, areas to avoid during certain rainfall events, and where evacuation corridors exist.

Riverine Flooding – Rivers, bayous, creeks and streams are where most people perceive flooding.  While this is not always the primary source of our flooding it is the one area that, if improved, can reduce house flooding and street flooding.  It is the backbone of our drainage system.  Harris County Flood Control has done an outstanding job in identifying and implementing projects to help reduce riverine flooding and continues to progress with many of the identified projects as funding allows. The City of Houston’s recent commitment to speed up funding for flood control projects will aid in this flood reduction, thus improving the overall level of flood protection for the area.  Natural riverine floodplains are areas that development should try to avoid, but they can offer an ideal location for amenities such as parks and trails.  More and more developers are seeing the benefit of enhancing these areas as amenity areas, thus avoiding the placement of homes in flood prone riverine areas.

Overland sheet flow – When rain falls on a tract of land, where does it go?  The simple answer is that it flows to the lowest point traveling the path of least resistance.  Over the eons, Mother Nature has dictated these conditions with the vegetation growing in an area, the types of soil or rock, and the overall topography or fall of the land.  With the relatively flat land around the Greater Houston area, water is not always channelized but will flow with relatively shallow flow over larger areas.  If homes or other structures are placed in this path, they can either block flow from the upstream area potentially causing flooding, flood themselves as water flows across/around the structure or cause water to be funneled to a concentrated location and flood areas downstream.

Back to the initial statement, “Drainage Solutions are Not One-Size-Fits-All.” Before effective drainage solutions can be evaluated, the cause of the flooding needs to be understood.  The public needs better education for a deeper understanding of the issues involved with flooding and to go beyond the mantra that flooding is all caused by new development.

Scott Saenger, PE, Vice President, Jones|Carter

 

Unique Surveying Expertise

A life-long Texan, Ray Weger, RPLS enjoys the good things Texas has to offer: barbecue, lots of sunshine, rich history, independent spirit, and land. Lots of land. He has surveyed many areas of the Lone Star state over the span of his 30 year career. Ray has done it all, from instrument man to specializing in 3D design, and survey mapping from conventional, aerial, and mobile LiDAR acquisition.

Staying true to his roots and his acumen, he has established QA/QC protocols for consistent project deliverables while working on TxDOT, state, and county right-of-way mapping and parcel acquisition projects, as well as surveys and subdivision platting for commercial, industrial, and residential development projects.

JC surveyors share a deep bond with the land and all things Texas. And, that includes some of our states’ most vulnerable populations. Ray serves his community through a family-run charity rescuing canines in need and pairing them with deserving adopters and veterans. “Paws up” to Ray for this effort that identifies rescue dogs with the capacity to become service dogs for veterans in need.

Contact Ray in our San Antonio office at rweger@jonescarter.com or 210.560.3685.

 

Leading a Legacy: Texas-Based Engineering Firm Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Founded in 1976, Houston-based planning/surveying/engineering firm Jones|Carter celebrates its ruby anniversary this July and continues to expand its geographic reach and service offerings. Starting with only 3 employees, revenue in the first year was less than $200,000. Today, with revenues in excess of $73M, Jones|Carter consistently appears on regional and national ranking lists including Engineering News Record Top 500, Engineering News Record TX/LA Top 100, and Zweig Group’s Hot Firms. “Every single person working here has the talent and dedication to tackle the unique challenges our clients have. We are united in our mission, and with that, comes unlimited potential,” says president and CEO, Bob Aylward. “We strive every day to make a measurable difference in the quality of lives for our employees and clients. We are proud of this reputation.” In 2016, Jones|Carter garnered top awards from the American Council of Engineering Companies, winning Gold in the Environmental category and Silver in Water Resources.

Jones|Carter has experienced double-digit growth over the last 5 years, contributing to the strong Texas economy. Projects include ongoing design for TxDOT, surveying for the Verizon cell phone tower network, storm water drainage at Houston Hardy Yards, site development for the Railport Business Park in Midlothian, and multiple wastewater treatment plants, including the first plant in Montgomery, Texas to use a biological nutrient removal process.

With a legacy of smart solutions and innovative engineering, Jones|Carter has built a strong foundation that has driven firm growth to eight offices, ten specialty practices, and over 550 personnel statewide. A particularly inventive and cost-saving solution for Pecan Grove Municipal Utility District saved over $1M. “This project was definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution, and we carefully considered all angles of the problem and potential impacts to provide the best value for our client and area residents,” says Lead Project Engineer, Craig Kalkomey, PE, CFM. Jones|Carter’s innovative, multi-component flood wall design and channel improvements in Pecan Lakes subdivision provided critical flood protection to over 325 homes.

“Our clients appreciate the open-minded attitude that comes with having a wider perspective. We look at every project, applying the right resources, leveraging industry relationships, and engineering expertise to bring a concept to fruition,” says Carlos Cotton, PE, RPLS, Surveying Practice Leader and Chairman of the Board. “Our teams enjoy a good challenge and are always looking for better solutions to common issues many of our clients face.”

The company’s 40th anniversary plans include regional events celebrating the significant contributions of each Texas office, and year-long activities that honor the firm’s mission, core values, and culture. “Forty years is significant. Being mindful of how far the organization has come keeps us grounded while leading a legacy of knowledge, expertise, integrity, and most importantly, service. From Greenwater Redevelopment in Austin to Union Park in Dallas, Jones|Carter completes projects that make a difference in the communities where we live and work. This has been true about us since day one,” reflects Bryan Kennedy, PE, Community Development Practice Leader.

It’s Nice to be Recognized

The best measure of our success is based in client satisfaction. Our approach to achieving consistent and outstanding client service is reflective of our unique corporate culture to enhance lives through engineering excellence. Quality, collaboration, accountability, respect, ethical behavior, and client-focused results are indicative of our outlook and the way we do business. Jones|Carter has received countless awards that highlight our strengths and showcase our ability to connect with our employees, clients, and communities. Recognition over the years such as Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, Top Work Place, Best Places to Work, and Outstanding Team Award for community involvement is not the exception, it is the norm. Congratulations to everyone on our latest accolade:

ENR 2016_Top Design Firms

Survey Camp is a Jones|Carter Tradition

Survey Camp

Texas A&M Survey Camp 2016, led by Jones|Carter’s (JC) Surveying Practice Leader Carlos Cotton, PE, RPLS and Surveying Division Manager, Doug Bramwell, PE, RPLS was recently attended by 24 junior and senior-level students enrolled in the civil engineering program at the university. Survey Camp was created 15 years ago by Carlos, and continues to impart valuable information and teaching tools about the profession of surveying to eager students looking for real-world application. One of the “campers” is taking his training even further by joining Jones|Carter as a summer intern. Thank you for another great class and good luck to all of the graduates!

“Thank you for supporting this program. I hope in future years, more students are able to benefit from the opportunities given by companies like yours.” Benito S.

“We, as students, have gained so much insight from this course, and I credit all of that to you!” Ramses C.

“Thank you for your support and investment in this program. As a future civil engineer, I appreciate you taking two weeks off from your own job to invest in me.” Kensley H.

“Having a registered professional teach me surveying techniques really gave me a better idea of how to effectively approach uninformed areas.” Roberto G.

“I would like to extend my ongoing gratitude for being part of this experience and for your continuing support of Texas A&M student’s career goals.” Hannah P.

“Coordinating a real-world experience into a classroom setting is a difficult task and you have mastered it. Thank you for supporting the Texas A&M Civil Engineering Department.” Juan E.

“Most classes we attend are strictly in a classroom setting. I have always heard wonderful things about this class, and now I have a whole new appreciation for the surveying industry.” Kirby T.

ABOUT SURVEY CAMP:
For the 15th year, Jones|Carter has hosted Survey Camp, a highly successful and collaborative venture between Texas A&M and private industry. Created and led by adjunct professor Carlos Cotton, principal at Jones|Carter, the interactive course has been providing hands-on learning in the field since 2002. At Carlos’ invitation, a number of companies provide trucks, equipment, and crew chiefs for the two-week course. Carlos continues to lead the much sought-after course, joined by JC’s Doug Bramwell, PE, RPLS who assists in presenting the world of survey to attendees.

Trust and Transparency

Texas House Bill 1295 and House Bill 23, passed in 2015, have clearly established rules regarding disclosure of relationships and gift exchanges with local government officials and vendors. These could impact your business if you are directly or indirectly serving governmental markets. HB 1295 creates additional reporting for parties on certain types of contracts with governmental organizations before those contracts can be let. HB23 creates new disclosure requirements around gifts given to governmental entities and certain vendors that those entities employ. Our clients’ interests remain our utmost priority, and we want to make sure you are aware of these laws and how Jones|Carter will be acting upon them.

Jones|Carter has adjusted our internal processes to account for the additional disclosure requirements. We have adopted a conservative approach to giving and receiving gifts that have the potential to fall under the disclosure rules in HB23. We will no longer receive any gifts nor give any gifts without full disclosure. Compliance with the law safeguards everyone involved and permits us to conduct business in an atmosphere of transparency where all are protected. We value your business and appreciate the trust you have put in us over the last 40 years. Jones|Carter will always put our clients first.

Texas House Bill 23.

With a goal to increasing transparency in the award of public projects to private companies, provisions in Texas law have been amended in regard to disclosure reporting requirements. The primary changes include disclosure of personal and familial relationships with local government officers (LGO) and vendors, a lowering of the reporting threshold to $100, and dual disclosure, both from the LGO and the vendor/consultant. Gift amounts are totaled over a rolling 12-month period.

A gift is any consideration of value or a benefit given or accepted including foods, items, lodging, transportation, and entertainment. However, food/drink accepted as a guest does not require disclosure. Cumulative gifts over $100 from one source within a rolling 12-month period are subject to reporting.

Please see the following for more information: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB23

Texas House Bill 1295.

This bill added Section 2252.908 “Disclosure of Interested Parties” to the Texas Local Government Code. This new rule potentially affects all business entities who wish to contract (or amend an existing contract) with a governmental entity. A disclosure of interested parties form (FORM 1295) is required for all contracts approved by a governmental entity’s governing body or that have a value of at least $1 million, including construction contracts, consultant and service contracts, and bond-related contracts. Failure to file a disclosure form will result in the governmental entity’s inability to contract with your business.

The Texas Ethics Commission (Commission) was tasked with the implementation of HB 1295. The Commission created an online platform wherein a business entity may complete a disclosure of interested parties Form 1295. Upon completion, the TEC website will generate a certificate of filing. The certificate and a copy of completed disclosure form must be printed, signed, and provided to the governmental entity with which you are seeking to contract prior to or at the time of the contract’s execution. If the business is unable to file a disclosure and provide the governmental entity with the signed certificate and disclosure form, the governmental entity will be unable to enter into the contract.

Please see the Commission’s website related to the implementation of the bill: https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/whatsnew/elf_info_form1295.htm

We Take Pride in Everything We Do! ‪#‎JCTRUE

president's awards

Jones|Carter’s 2016 Annual Meeting was a key opportunity to update employees about the state of the company and to recognize several outstanding individuals for their achievements over the prior year. Martin Hicks (Surveying Practice) and Brittany Anderson (Municipal & District Services) were the recipients of the 2016 President’s Awards. Marty was recognized for his external client-focused approach to each and every project and his 38 years of service. Brittany received the highest praise for her professionalism, ongoing support of her practice, and her dedication to the firm. Congratulations to these JC employees who embody the true spirit of our firm!

© 2017 Jones|Carter | Phone: 713.777.5337