Current Issues, New Tech Focus Of CIGMAT Conference

By Traci Read, Managing Editor | May 2012, Vol. 67 No. 5
Professor Jean L. Briaud, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, with C. Vipulanandan.

In the first of four panel discussions, the “Sustainability of Water Systems and Current Drought Conditions in Texas” was led by Jorge Arroyo, contract manager, Texas Water Development Board, who discussed the challenges and future plans for water management in Texas due to the state’s current drought conditions. Mark Smith, senior project manager, San Jacinto River Authority, presented the groundwater reduction plans for Montgomery County and the surrounding areas. He also expressed the need for using new technologies to install pipelines in urban areas. Mark Loethen, deputy director for Planning & Development Services, city of Houston, discussed some of the challenges and plans for the city under the changing weather patterns.

Adam Rodriguez, P.E., CFM, project manager, R.G. Miller Engineers commented: “The conference provides excellent networking and development opportunities where you can learn about some of the latest engineering projects and challenges. Of particular interest to me this year are the discussions about the drought issues Houston faced this past year and the flooding issues we always have to deal with, both of which can cause pipes to break. These issues can influence how we approach several of our engineering projects.”

Frequent conference attendee Joe Majdalani, P.E., chief engineer, city of Beaumont, agreed that CIGMAT offers attendees the opportunity to learn about new technologies and meet with key people that can aid in the approach cities take in resolving their infrastructure problems. “At this year’s conference, we met with contractors who work with TxDOT on some of the streets. The drought has put stress on the city’s surface so we are here to find out how we can stretch our resources more effectively, particularly money, to fix our streets and pipes. We are looking at actual applications we can use underground.”

Flooding, geotechnical issues
The second panel discussion “Flooding, ReBuild Houston and Geotechnical Issues” focused on maintaining the critical infrastructures with new plans and projects. Mike Talbott, director, Harris County Flood Control, spoke about the ongoing projects on mitigating flood damage and their plans for future projects. Dale Rudick, deputy director for ReBuild Houston, shared new plans for upgrading and maintaining the storm sewer facilities in Houston. Kenneth Tand, Kenneth Tand and Associates, presented case studies on the impact of the drought conditions on the behavior of expansive clays and the influence of trees in maintaining the moisture balance underground.

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