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L.A. County watershed project receives ISI Envision Platinum award

Washington, D.C. —The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) announced that the Sun Valley Watershed Multi-Benefit Project in Los Angeles County, Calif., has earned the Envision infrastructure rating system’s Platinum award — the highest level attainable in the Envision system. The project, a first-of-its-kind venture geared to managing stormwater for the Sun Valley Watershed, provides flood protection, improved watershed health, increased open space and recreational opportunities, and increased wildlife habitat.

Tweets during 2013 Colorado floods gave engineers valuable data on infrastructure damage

Boulder, Colo. — Tweets sent during last year’s massive flooding on Colorado’s Front Range were able to detail the scope of damage to the area’s infrastructure, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder. The findings can help geotechnical and structural engineers more effectively direct their reconnaissance efforts after future natural disasters — including earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes — as well as provide them data that might otherwise be lost due to rapid cleanup efforts.

Heat recovery system eliminates heating bills at wastewater treatment plant

Commerce Township, Mich. — A new sewage geothermal heat recovery system developed by Giffels Webster is expected to save Commerce Township $50,000 in heating costs this winter. Giffels Webster, the township’s consulting engineering firm, worked with the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s office to design and engineer the system at the township’s wastewater treatment plant earlier this year.

New data show U.S. driving at highest level in six years

Washington, D.C. — New estimates released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that American driving between July 2013 and June 2014 is at levels not seen since 2008, fueling calls for greater investment in highways that must bear growing volumes of traffic.

Four energy companies form joint venture to build 550-mile, $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Richmond, Va. — Four major U.S. energy companies — Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources — announced the formation of a joint venture to build and own the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The $4.5 billion to $5 billion, 550-mile natural gas pipeline would run from Harrison County, W.Va., southeast through Virginia with an extension to Chesapeake, Va., and then south through central North Carolina to Robeson County. The partnership, called Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, will own the pipeline initially proposed by Dominion as the Southeast Reliability Project.

BioPreferred program opens to wood products

Washington, D.C. — American Wood Council (AWC) President and CEO Robert Glowinski issued the following statement regarding the recognition of wood products under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred Program going into effect today. The 2014 Farm Bill states that forest products, previously considered to be ineligible because they were “mature market,” are now eligible products to be recognized in USDA biobased programs.

Trans Energy Inc. to restore streams and wetland damaged by natural gas extraction activities in West Virginia

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Trans Energy Inc., requiring the oil and gas company to restore portions of streams and wetlands at 15 sites in West Virginia polluted by the company’s unauthorized discharge of dredge or fill material. It is estimated that Trans Energy will spend more than $13 million to complete the restoration and mitigation work required by the consent decree.

California quake points to research advancements in retrofitting older buildings

West Lafayette, Ind. — The 6.0 earthquake that rocked Napa, Calif., on Aug. 24 is placing the spotlight on efforts by property owners and municipalities to retrofit older buildings and improve their ability to withstand earthquakes. Researchers affiliated with the Purdue University-led George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) have studied ways to strengthen older masonry- and wood-framed buildings to minimize earthquake damage and save lives.

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