While the meaning of Water Resources can be defined in many different ways, at Spicer the focus is on the Earth’s surface waters including lakes, creeks, streams, rivers and storm water runoff—and how they affect the world we live in. Our Water Resources Group is a collection of highly-educated engineers and designers who specialize in finding a balance between the Earth’s surface, water, natural environment, and society. This is accomplished by way of innovative storm water drainage and flood control designs, development of storm water management plans, unique in-stream and stream bank restoration efforts, and quality-engineered lake level control structure designs and plans. They have years of experience using the natural environment and green-engineering practices in managing storm and surface water issues and pride themselves on being able to accomplish this while implementing design parameters that produce equal benefits to the public, natural environment and their client’s budgets.
The drain has a drainage district of 37,162 acres and was experiencing severe channel incision, siltation, and slower hydraulic flows. The region annually experienced flooded fields, submerged tile drains and culverts, and impassable roads after all levels of rain events. Working with Spicer Group, the Arenac County Drain Commissioner created a plan to provide capacity to convey flood waters, drain water off farm fields within 48 hours, and transport sediment effectively. This involved removing 170,000 cubic yards of sediment, creating flood benches along low flow areas, slope shaping on eroded banks, natural material in-stream grade control structures such as rock vanes and rock dams designed to stabilize the channel while maintaining hydraulic capacity for flood protection of agricultural land.
This extensive $25-million-project near Lansing, MI focused heavily on enhancing the natural environment of Carrier Creek, reducing erosion and providing 800 acre-feet of regional storm water detention for a 7,400-acre watershed. Major solutions that were implemented included extensive stream restoration, utility improvements and storm water detention. Over three miles of the creek’s bank was stabilized to reduce erosion, and a riparian buffer zone with native plantings was created. 5.5 miles of trunk-line sanitary sewer was replaced with the reconstruction of 110 sanitary sewer manholes. A new wetland detention basin was constructed with automatic pump station to control the water level and limit the time of saturation to minimize the loss of seedlings due to excess water. Spicer was responsible for all design and survey tasks as well as construction administration.
The City of Mt. Pleasant was having problems with chronic erosion due to river velocity and ice damage on the Chippewa River Bank immediately adjacent to Broadway Street near the City’s downtown area. The river bank was eroding to a point where the City was in danger of losing the existing fence and sidewalk along Broadway Street if the problem was not addressed.
Spicer Group engineered a design to restore the riverbank to its pre-eroded geometry which included armoring the bank with riprap to provide long-term stability and ice damage protection. The project included repairing and restoring 280 linear feet of river bank which had an average vertical height of approximately 17 feet. The bank restoration included the placement of 850 cubic yards of riprap, as well as the restoration of the existing fence, sidewalk, and lawn areas.
Spicer worked with the Conservation Resource Alliance to design a plan that restored native steelhead and salmon spawning migrations within the Green River. Originally, a 40-year-old trout farm along the river utilized a dam to provide a water source for its trout. The sheetpile dam was accumulating sediment and blocked the movement of native trout and spawning steelhead and salmon between upper and lower portions of the river. Spicer’s design included replacing the dam with a rock barrier that still diverts water into the trout farm. Excess water flows around the barrier and naturally downstream over a newly constructed channel made of rocks and boulders. Additional migration habitat was achieved by placing two-to four-foot diameter boulders over the span to reduce stream velocities and flow uniformity.
Spicer Group worked with the Berrien County Drain Commissioner to provide innovative solutions to flooding problems occurring along the Hollywood Road Consolidated Drain. The project team incorporated unique design techniques such as the retrofitting of an existing storm water basin into a wetland facility and a two-stage channel that was constructed on the downstream reach of the drain with riffles and pools. A Federal Section 319 Grant was awarded to the project and aided in funding the total $2.7 million cost of the project.
Imerman Park is located in the flood zone of the Tittabawassee River. Owned by the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Department, the park provides visitors with a variety of recreation opportunities. Years of flooding and constant erosion have taken their toll on the bank—making it a common contributor to the sedimentation to the riverbed and creating unstable and unsightly conditions. A focus area for this project was the location along the riverbank that supports the fishing dock and a large pavilion that overlooks the river. The ground supporting the pavilion had been severely eroded—jeopardizing the structural safety of the pavilion. At one time, the riverbank beneath the pavilion extended 15 feet out to the center of the river.
Spicer Group engineered plans that stopped erosion along the bank and provided a long-lasting foundation for the pavilion. The plan included the installation of over 40 linear feet of sheet piling and the placing of more than 2,600 tons of Michigan Department of Transportation Heavy Riprap. Th is project prevented several potential washouts of the pavilion and surrounding area during recent continuous spring floods. In addition, a fishing platform was built and an existing dock was replaced with a new 96-foot-long dock that floats—allowing it to rise and lower with the fluctuating river levels.
In order to streamline the process of fulfilling MDEQ’s Part 91 Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Compliance requirements, the Ingham County Drain Commissioner asked Spicer Group to develop an electronic application to cut down on the amount of time being spent on completing the reports. Conventional methods included field crews from Ingham County going out to the drain construction projects and visiting sites falling under the Part 91 regulation.
The typical routine was to physically fill out a form for each site and then take pictures of the area. Bottlenecks in work process were causing a significant backup in workload efforts, especially the amount of time it was taking to go back to the office, download all the pictures and associate a description with each photo. Spicer Group met with the Drain Commissioner’s staff to get a better understanding of their issues, and based on these discussions a plan was put in place to develop an electronic app to make their drain inspection process much more efficient.
Spicer developed the electronic app, which allows field staff to quickly fill out the Part 91 report by simply clicking on the provided drop down menus on a mobile device and placing a few check marks in appropriate boxes. Pictures can be taken and immediately linked to the report complete with descriptions, dates and times. Most information is already made available to select from preprogrammed menus, but additional info can be added by physically typing it in or through voice. In addition to the significantly reduced amount of time it takes to complete the report, the report can be immediately emailed to anybody with an internet account or saved and filed for further use.
The Little Salt Creek Intercounty Drain is a 16.7-mile-long watercourse that encompasses 21,000 watershed acres in Gratiot, Isabella, and Midland Counties. Spicer was hired by the Drain Commissioners from each county to provide solutions and incorporate green engineering methods to flooding problems in both agricultural and residential areas along the drain. Streambank stabilization and grade-control structures were designed for the upper portion of the drain. Cross vanes, vane arms, and rock ford crossings were constructed as an economical, more environmentally beneficial alternative to rock riprap. Rock ford crossings paired with Geoweb® slope protection systems were constructed at agricultural crossings. Vegetative BMPs were used for bank stabilization and erosion control in the lower mile of the drain.
Landowners within the Lake Shore Drainage District in the Village of Union Pier filed a petition with the Berrien County Drain Commissioner to complete drainage improvements under Chapter 8 of the Michigan Drain Code of 1956 as amended. The 90-year-old infrastructure and increasing density of homes required a major improvement to the existing drainage system. Spicer Group performed a study of the existing drain and designed improvement projects that incorporated major drainage improvements for the district.
In all, nearly 2.5 miles of new infrastructure was constructed, 800 square yards of rain gardens installed, and the 110 properties traversed by the drain were restored with new landscaping. The project used a Low-Impact Development/Design approach which utilized rain gardens and landscaping for storm water runoff management. These rain gardens were planted with moisture-tolerant plants and designed to treat and store storm water while providing adequate drainage during major storm events.
Due to the significant incorporation of rain gardens and low-impact design methods, the project was awarded with an Honorable Mention for Innovation and Excellence Award from the American Council of Enigneering Companies and the top award of excellence from the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners.
Sediment build up called for 3,500 cubic yards of soil to be dredged from an area 510’ long by 150’ wide by 3.5’ deep. All dredged material was collected in a containment tube and disposed of at a landfill. Spicer was responsible for the entire design, survey and construction inspection of this project. Other site improvements included: 140’ of 12” storm sewer, 16’ of 10” storm sewer, 2 storm sewer catch basins, 2,300 square yards of bituminous pavement, 4,000 sq. ft. of concrete surfacing and stairs, 280’ of hand railing, 1,300 sq.ft. of block retaining wall, 800’ of sheetpile seawall, 162 wooden bumper posts and landscaping.
Spicer Group provided engineering assistance with improvements for a completely reinvigorated Ostrander Drain system. The Ostrander Drain provides drainage to approximately 580 acres in the surrounding Tittabawassee Township. The Drain passes through a large 18-foot-deep ravine in the middle of Freeland before outletting into the Tittabawassee River. The Drain had over 30 years of documented erosion issues, which were very hard to address with small routine maintenance projects due to the drain being located in the large ravine and close proximity of houses and businesses to the drain right of way.
The Ostrander Drain’s steep, overgrown and fallen-tree-tangled banks made it tough to access the project area with construction equipment as well as design sustainable solutions that would not have long-term effects by erosion and sloughing. The construction of a two-stage channel along the drain mixed with natural stream design approaches, and traditional drain stabilization measures such as riprap armoring and use of turf reinforcement mats provided solutions for these complexities. The project was recognized with MACDC’s 2016 Innovation and Excellence Award.
Paint Creek is the only coldwater natural-trout-reproducing stream in southeast Michigan and is home to a resident population of brook trout and brown trout. This project focused on the section of the creek that flows through Downtown Rochester and improving habitat for the Creek’s trout and the aquatic life they depend on for living. This was accomplished through channel restructuring, in-stream structure placement, streambank improvements, and planting of native vegetation.
The project also focused heavily on improving access for all visitors. Fishermen, swimmers, children and nature lovers now have a safer way of accessing the Creek without causing erosion or damaging in-stream habitat. It’s an all-around success for the trout, the animals who call the Creek home, the public, and the City of Rochester.
The City of Saginaw hired Spicer Group to develop an emergency solution to a major erosion problem that was occurring along the Saginaw River in the vicinity of the newly-developed Michigan Cardio Vascular Institute in downtown Saginaw. The banks along both sides of the river in this area have always been subject to severe erosion during high-velocity-flow periods. The river is very wide at this section and flows directly towards the bank before angling to the west. Th e bank at this location is very steep and contours down into a deep hole beneath the water’s surface allowing a large amount of the rivers shear force to impact the riverbank.
The bank erosion was eroding at a very high rate, and jeopardizing a paved walking and bike path the city owned that runs along the river. Prior to the project the erosion was so severe that there was a near-vertical drop off located only two feet from the path. Spicer Group was hired to design a solution to rebuild this stretch of river bank to provide a grassed buffer between the river bank and the path, and re-stabilize the slope to prevent future erosion from recreating this unsafe situation. A combination of re-grading, geotextile fabrics, placement of various sizes of stone was used to re-stabilize the slope successfully. Spicer Group surveyed the site, designed the proposed solution and prepared all necessary permit applications with the MDEQ and USACE.
In a small residential Grand Rapids neighborhood, severe flooding was a habitual problem. Spicer Group diagnosed the flooding problem and determined a large-scale construction project was not economically feasible. Spicer then worked with the Kent County Drain Commissioner to design and implement an innovative and cost-effective solution through a FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Grant to remove the affected homes from the area.
This program allowed federal dollars to purchase the properties at their fair-market appraisal value as if no flooding issues had occurred. Removing the homes from the area saved millions, not only in construction costs, but also in future damage costs. Once the homes were purchased, they were demolished and the area was graded and reestablished as a neighborhood green space. Spicer’s team designed and constructed a rain garden within the green space to facilitate infiltration and storm water treatment.
Residents living within the 323-acre watershed of the Swiss Gardens Drain were plagued by repetitive flooded basements, flooded roads and sanitary sewer overflows. Spicer Group completed a preliminary study, permitting, easement acquisition, engineering design, plan preparation, assessment roll preparation and construction administration for improvements to the 1.3-mile tiled drain which was found to be undersized and obstructed. To solve the flooding in a cost-efficient way, the upper half of the Swiss Gardens Drain was diverted south into Halfway Creek in Toledo. Since this would divert flows to an upstream location on the Creek, a 6.1-acre-foot storm water detention pond was also incorporated into the design.
Traver Creek, a tributary of the Huron River, flows through the City of Ann Arbor’s Leslie Park Golf Course. Working for the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, Spicer Group designed a full corridor restoration to reduce flooding and improve water quality while augmenting play, aesthetics and native habitat. Among the changes implemented, a new two-stage channel reconnected the floodplain to the base-flow channel allowing flow to spread out during large storms. This flow control, along with energy dissipation measures, greatly reduced bank erosion. In the floodplain shelf along the creek bed, wetlands were created with native plantings.
New retaining walls made from precast concrete were installed along the creek, ponds and golf cart paths. Two foot bridges were relocated and expanded with new piers and lifted out of the influence of high water flows. Existing ponds on the course were retrofitted to increase rainwater detention.
Water levels were lowered while working on these ponds consistent with state permits. Numerous turtles were relocated to another pond on the golf course. Some of the turtles were estimated to be more than 75 years old and weighed at least 30 pounds. Construction was completed within seven months and created over six acres of native buffers and wetlands that will help remove pollutants, reduce runoff volumes and mitigate peak flows during storm events.
A neighborhood in the City of Ann Arbor has been experiencing severe flooding during heavy rain events for many years, and the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner hired Spicer to develop an online app that allowed residents to report and document flooding incidents immediately as they occurred. Prior to Spicer coming on board, the flooding would happen and leave a trail of destruction so fast, that by the time that City and County officials arrived at the scene, the floodwaters would have already receded. This made it difficult for County and City officials to get an accurate comprehension of the true details of the flooding without seeing it themselves.
Spicer developed an app that allows residents to take a picture of flooding as it occurs and add details including the time and address. When data is entered into the app, the information is automatically recorded on an interactive map that shows the details of every flooding incident reported. In return, engineers are able to take that info and compare it with the details of the storm or runoff event and incorporate it into an overall storm water model. Engineers are currently in the model development stage which will ultimately help identify solutions to the flooding in this particular neighborhood. One major benefit of this online app is the fact that residents feel like they are being listened too and that they are helping in the solution effort. The other key benefit is that team members now have a much better perception of the type of flooding occurring and when it occurs.
After years of development it became necessary to update the drainage district maps and drainage district assessment rolls throughout Wayne County’s 614 square miles. Wayne County hired Spicer Group to undertake this multi-year project that included researching and recording current drainage district maps, creating a base map, traveling throughout the County to verify infrastructure and drainage patterns, and updating the drainage district maps and assessment rolls.
Historic maps and liber documents were scanned and used to help build a digital base map of layers that included historical districts, parcels, LiDAR data, roads right-of-way, MDOT data and municipal storm sewer lines. Engineers used these maps to field verify drain patterns throughout the county and update the drainage districts.
Spicer Group assisted the Drain Commissioner in updating the assessment rolls and holding days of review. With more than 600 drains throughout the county, over 100 drainage district boundaries were completed in 2014, resulting in more than 100,000 notices sent to landowners informing them of changes. Three public hearings were held for landowners to give input on boundaries and three public hearings were held for landowners to review special assessments. Spicer will be continuing this project by completing another 100 drainage districts in 2015. When finalized, Wayne County will have a fully digitized GIS map of each corrected drainage district.
Wildwood Lake Dam is a 305’ long structure that was in danger of failing and causing significant damage to properties downstream. Spicer assisted the Property Owners Association in inspecting the dam and developing a solution. It was decided to replace the dam’s control features as well as the outlet and inlet structure. 30’ of 42” corrugated metal pipe was replaced at the junction-tee beneath the dam, a bypass pipe was temporarily installed around the inlet structure to allow the lake level to be maintained, and a coffer dam around the inlet structure to provide a safe and relatively dry environment for the work to be completed in. Repairs to the inlet and outlet structure were made as well as construction of a new concrete drop structure and slide gates. A new 42” pipe from inlet to outlet pipe was installed via the pipe bursting process which involved leaving the existing pipe in place and pulling the new pipe through. Heavy riprap was placed alongside of the banks and exposed areas were seeded.
The Wry Drain was originally constructed more than 80 years ago and crosses the borders of the City of Monroe and Monroe Township in Monroe County, MI. For the past several years, homeowners living within the historic drainage district would experience severe flooding even during the smallest of rain events, prompting city crews to continuously haul large pumps to the area to keep the drain from overflowing and flooding local streets and homes.
After completing a drainage study, Spicer found that a large section of the original vitrified clay pipe had deteriorated, and developed a solution to build a new drainage system under the existing roadways of the area which included rerouting the original storm water drain. This plan required installing more than 9,000 feet of storm sewer pipe, 172 new manholes and the reconstruction of seven streets within the city and the township. The design work for this project - a process that would normally take up to a year to complete - was done on a three-month timeline so construction could begin to avoid any more flooding.
Even with several different stakeholders involved – including more than 190 landowners – the project was completed ahead of schedule. The entire length of the new pipe was laid first then the new roadways were completed during the following construction.
The Kent County Drain Office hired Spicer Group to analyze a decades-long erosion issue occurring with a small and aging waterway that was built in the 1960’s to drain storm water from a neighborhood in eastern Grand Rapids. Although within the Waring Drain watershed, this natural watercourse was not a part of the designated county drain.
Spicer Group was tasked with identifying the issues occurring in this area of the Waring Drain, obtaining easements needed from property owners to make this watercourse an extension of the Waring Drain so the drain office could perform maintenance or construction to fix the issues, and designing a solution to the erosion issues to improve safety and stability along the drain’s course.
Once it was established as an extension of the Waring Drain, Spicer designed rock crossing structures for grade control along its length to negate the fast-moving water that was creating the erosion issues. Those structures acted like a set of stairs so the energy in the water was no longer increasing steadily down the slope, but dissipating over the rock cross vanes. The banks of waterway were also reshaped and replanted with natural vegetation to ensure slope stabilization.
Spicer Group assisted the Bay County Drain Commissioner with developing a watershed management plan for the Kawkawlin River which is more than 17 miles long and covers portions of Bay, Midland, Gladwin and Saginaw Counties. Part of the developed plan included dredging the mouth and some of the upper portions of the river. In the five years that followed the plan’s development, ice flows built up during the winter months, jamming the mouth of the river, and during the spring and summer boating seasons, navigating out of the river and onto the bay was a challenge because of large sandbars and historical low lake levels.
In 2014, $1.1 million of state funding was allocated for the project. That same year, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality awarded a grant to Bangor Township worth more than $500,000 to help with the work. Spicer Group assisted Bangor Township with obtaining the necessary permits from the federal and state regulatory agencies to not only do the work, but to dispose of the spoils at the Saginaw Bay Confined Disposal Facility. This work also included performing a hydrographic survey of the area to be dredged to determine the amount of material that would need to be removed and where it would need to be removed from.
More than half of the 4,000 foot channel was dredged where the sand bar build-ups were located, and all to a standard chart datum elevation of 571.5 International Great Lakes Datum (IGLD) 1985, which is set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Dean Marine and Excavating of Mount Clemens, Michigan, spent a few months using a dredging barge to pull up sand, silt and rocks from below the water’s surface that was then taken and disposed of at the Saginaw Bay Confined Disposal Facility.
The Belden Tile Drain was established in the 1870’s and services a 66-acre watershed comprised of rural lands and residential neighborhoods in Huron Township, Wayne County. Residents and government officials were unaware of the poor condition of the 12-inch clay-tile drain until a major rain storm hit the area in June of 2015. Several residential properties were inundated with floodwater after the storm event including one resident who had water flowing up from the Drain and out of his crawlspace. The region north of Willow Road was not draining at all after the event, and residents south of Willow Road experienced long periods of standing water and damaging sinkholes in their yards. Flooding was so severe that the Wayne County Drain Commissioner (WCDC) had pumps installed at various points along the Drain to alleviate standing water that was not reaching an outlet.
Upon review with Spicer Group, the WCDC identified that a majority of the Belden Tile Drain was beyond repair due to root intrusion, severe cracking, separation, infiltration, and severe blockage. Also, during their field investigation, the team realized that several sections of the Drain ran directly beneath houses, yards, sheds, pools, and driveways. The project team decided the best solution was to abandon the original clay-tile drain, relocate the section of the Drain south of Willow Road, and replace the stretch north of Willow Road.
Taking the helpful advice of the WCDC, Huron Township submitted a petition under Chapter 20 of the Drain Code, rather than under the typical Chapter 8 process. Chapter 20 provided Huron Township a way to finance the project and allowed for an expedited petition process of only 8 months from the date of petition to the bid opening. The project was completed in 2017.