Misconceptions of the 100-year Flood

  The recent flooding of Indian Creek that led to the damage and closing of Coach’s Bar and Grill has brought much attention from local papers and news stations. Several local media outlets have presented the flood as a “100 year flood event.” But what makes a flood a “100 year flood”? Due to the nomenclature of the 100-year flood, many are often confused as to the likelihood of such an event happening, and, as a consequence, may under prepare or under insure with the illusion that a flood of this magnitude is a once-in-a-lifetime event. A 100-year flood event should statistically happen once every 100 years over a long time period, or have just a 1 percent chance of occurring within any given year. When people hear that a 100-year flood has occurred on a particular river, they may incorrectly assume that a flood of that magnitude should not happen again for roughly another 100 years. This is the same logical fallacy that would lead one to believe that flipping a coin and it coming up heads four times in a row is far more unlikely that flipping alternating heads and tails four times (statistically speaking, each are equally likely). Probabilities of this time scale should only be applied over long time horizons and cannot be accurately applied to short time periods. Therefore, back-to-back rare events may be more common than one would originally believe. In addition to misinterpreting the definition a 100-year flood, there are a few other issues that can lead to error in attempting to predict such an event. First, there is a common misconception...

Keeping the Flood Waters Away

The recent flash flooding of Indian Creek in South Kansas City resulted in major repercussions for homes and businesses near the creek. Storm watch rain gauges located near Holmes Road and 103rd Street in Kansas City  indicated an average of 4.69 inches of rain over a 24 hour period. The highest intensity of rainfall fell between 2AM and 5AM on July 27, 2017, totaling 3.8 inches in just that narrow three-hour window. Several of the restaurants and businesses that run the span of 103rd Street between State Line and Wornall roads were inundated with water. We at TREKK are saddened by the damages and losses to businesses along 103rd Street, including Coach’s Bar & Grill, which has been in business for more than 34 years. As a GIS specialist at TREKK, my focus is primarily on water and wastewater data collection and management. Events like this flood remind me why I, along with my team of amazing field personnel and fellow office staff members, work every day to help manage these problems. Why am I so passionate about this issue? Storm water is the leading cause of pollution to our communities. While this may seem like a significant problem only when the wet weather event is actively creating chaos, the damage will far out-live the receding waters. When flooding occurs, pollutants like the oil from vehicles, chemicals and solid deposits gather and get distributed into the waterways. These events are devastating to the aquatic life and animals that rely on these waterways. A wet weather event like this and even those with far less intensity can cause problems, such as sanitary sewer...
Delving Into Data Delivery

Delving Into Data Delivery

For our Springfield Office, 2017 is easily our biggest year for flow monitoring to date. Across seven projects, we have upwards of 70 meters in the ground and more than 20 rain gauges across southwest Missouri. TREKK’s field crews work diligently to interrogate and maintain our monitoring equipment and bring in large volumes of data. Our technicians, project managers, and clients are excited to see the data and the story that it tells. We are often so focused on the final product, however, that we forget the journey the data goes through to be presentable to our clients. During our first week of flow monitoring, I asked a coworker if I could help with some of the flow monitoring data. I was tasked with formatting data that would be imported into our analyzing software. We could easily spend two or three minutes formatting each file, and I realized we could save time and frustration by automating this process. This led me to start exploring Microsoft Excel macros and I was quickly able to reduce the formatting step to the click of a button. This first step grew into developing three new tools that automate, process and detect errors in the data that we collect. Upon reflection, I realized that our motto of IMPROVING LIVES has many different applications. By working together with my coworkers, we were able to refine our process and make the job easier by eliminating some of the tedious time spent formatting and processing data. This allows for our technicians to streamline data processing and deliver quality information quickly and accurately to our project managers and...
I’m here to help

I’m here to help

I began my career 37 years ago with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in the Poplar Bluff Regional Office. I stayed in Poplar Bluff seven months before transferring to the Springfield Regional Office, which is closer to my hometown of Osceola, Missouri. I started out primarily working in Solid Waste and a small amount of Industrial Wastewater. In Springfield, I primarily worked solid waste and a small fraction of Public Drinking Water, but soon moved into Water Pollution Control where I spent the bulk of my career. As the often feared and, most of the time, misunderstood Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) inspector, I visited local facilities to document compliance through the inspection process with the Missouri Clean Water Law, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Regulations, and the facilities Missouri State Operating Permit (MSOP). I’d tell them, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help!” This line got me out of some heated issues and sometimes just brought a smile upon the face of the regulated community. While the inspection never felt like help to the facility, it was my intention to keep the facility out of trouble. If this was not done, it just created more work for everyone through potential enforcement actions. Since coming to work for TREKK, I have been able to better live out the “I’m here to help” portion of that old statement. I have assisted communities in obtaining grant funds to evaluate their collection systems, reviewed draft MSOPs for comments, and helped a client implement an Industrial Pretreatment Program. The family atmosphere at TREKK has extended not only to the...
Improving Lives Through Sanitary Sewer Evalucations

Improving Lives Through Sanitary Sewer Evalucations

You may see typo above, but rest assured, it is intentional. Let me explain. Along with Improving Lives, another main goal of TREKK is educating the communities we serve. Our orange TREKK shirts stick out, regularly serving as conversation starters between us and local residents. Some could see this as a nuisance, but I see it as a way to further solidify the fact that the work we are doing affects everyone, either directly or indirectly. I grew up in a small town and my work in Southwest Missouri is often centered on towns with populations less than 5,000. No matter who I communicate with, I am both educating them and gaining knowledge myself. Be it the little kids who try to sneak a peek down a manhole hoping to see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pop out, or the town elder who wants nothing more than for you to listen for two minutes about his experiences in his community, I am amazed at how we are able to touch lives. When I started with TREKK, I was one of those people who didn’t understand where wastewater went post flush. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” While the jokes may come and go – “Stuff flows downhill,” “you got something on your boots” – I have come to embrace the work I do on a daily basis. TREKK has built a true All-Star team, of like-minded, purpose driven leaders. And I see every day how what we do matters. A new project was recently posted in our internal Project Management system – “Sanitary Sewer Evalucation”...
Teamwork

Teamwork

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines teamwork as “the work done by people who work together as a team to do something.”  At TREKK, teamwork is exhibited on a daily basis through collaboration and commitment to the clients we serve.  And it was never more evident than the accomplishments achieved by TREKK field crews and office staff over the past summer. TREKK was tasked with smoke testing more than 2 million linear feet of sewer pipe in the Kansas City area – including local landmarks like the Country Club Plaza and University of Kansas Lawrence campus – in less than five months.  To complicate matters, a wet spring and early summer delayed the start of smoke testing by more than a month, making the schedule that much more difficult to achieve. Many people doubted that this could be accomplished by one firm and delivered on schedule and within budget. But the TREKK team did not complain, ask for more time or make excuses.  Our team stepped up and everyone pitched in to complete the work on time and on budget. It is truly awesome to be a part of this team, comprised of talented individuals working together for one common goal. ~ David...