GEI assists with levee evaluation, accreditation process in Conn.

GEI Consultants Inc. has been selected by both the City of Hartford, Connecticut, and the Town of East Hartford, Connecticut to perform Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Levee Accreditation engineering studies. While separate projects for the municipalities, each focuses on the adequacy and condition of existing flood protection systems along the Connecticut River...

GLASTONBURY, CT, Nov. 14, 2008 -- GEI Consultants Inc., a national water resources, geotechnical and environmental engineering firm, announced today that it has been selected by both the City of Hartford, Connecticut, and the Town of East Hartford, Connecticut to perform Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Levee Accreditation engineering studies. While separate projects for the municipalities, each focuses on the adequacy and condition of existing flood protection systems along the Connecticut River.

Both the Hartford and East Hartford Levees have been granted Provisionally Accredited Levee (PAL) status by FEMA. The PAL status has been granted to these levee systems because FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) believe the systems provide flood protection against a design flood event with 1% annual chance of being exceeded. Under the PAL agreement, the municipalities must provide the required documentation to demonstrate that level of flood protection. GEI Consultants has been selected to collect the necessary data, perform the evaluations and provide a comprehensive plan for achieving compliance with FEMA regulations.

Based on GEI's previous experience and knowledge of FEMA and Corps requirements, the City of Hartford chose GEI to do the geotechnical assessment of the levee embankments, including seepage, settlement and stability, and the structural assessment of the floodwalls and closure structures. The outcome of GEI's work will be an evaluation of the current level of protection provided by the levees and recommendations for any needed improvements to the levee system. GEI will provide documentation to support the City's FEMA Accreditation submittal by July, 2009. Fuss and O'Neil of Manchester, Connecticut is also working with the City to evaluate the interior drainage and pump stations to support the FEMA Accreditation.

"GEI's leadership, expertise and ability to break down this project into actionable items have been essential throughout the accreditation process," said John McGrane, P.E., director of the Greater Hartford Flood Commission. "We needed a firm that has done this before. GEI was able to demonstrate deep prior experience, detailed project understanding, innovative ideas and accurate cost projections."

Separately, the Town of East Hartford also selected GEI for its broad experience with levees, and knowledge of the FEMA process. GEI and its sub-consultants Purcell Associates of Glastonbury, Connecticut and GeoDesign of Middlebury, Connecticut will provide a comprehensive evaluation of the entire flood control system including the levee embankments, floodwalls, closure structures, interior drainage and pump stations. The evaluation and accreditation will be conducted in a comprehensive but fast-tracked manner over a two-year period. Services will include reviewing existing data, exploratory drilling and testing, survey, and engineering analyses. If deficiencies are found, GEI will design and implement repairs. Accreditation is scheduled to be completed by 2010. GEI is also providing design services to address several maintenance deficiencies identified by the town in an earlier study.

"The National Flood Insurance Program is critically important to the safety and welfare of our constituents. It was essential that we obtain a consultant whose credibility, experience and professionalism would not be questioned," said Denise Horan, town engineer with the East Hartford Department of Public Works Engineering Division. "GEI and their partners have a solid track record for providing engineering excellence, database management and accreditation planning for FEMA and the Corps."

For levees to be accredited and approved by FEMA, documentation must be provided establishing that, in the event of the "base flood" -- a flood event with a1% annual chance of being exceeded -- adequate design, operation and maintenance systems must be in place, and must provide reasonable assurance of protection. For the purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA will only recognize those levee systems that meet minimum design, operation, and maintenance standards consistent with the established design level of protection.

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and prior floods in California and the mid-west, it is clear that flood protection levees are critical elements of our nation's infrastructure," said Ray Hart, P.E., G.E., chief operating officer at GEI Consultants. "As a society, we are recognizing the need for better protection of our homes, communities and businesses from flood events. GEI has worked alongside FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers for several years, and we're very excited to be working with the City of Hartford and the Town of East Hartford on their structures bordering the Connecticut River. We are confident both municipalities will achieve accreditation and we're proud to be part of their teams for these initiatives."

GEI's multi-disciplined team of engineers and scientists deliver geotechnical, environmental, integrated water resources and ecological solutions to diverse clientele nationwide.

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