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  • 1.  Environmental Impact Studies

    Posted 09-03-2019 02:21 PM

    I am a structural engineer and member of ASCE. I am an appointed advisor to our ministry of environment in Mali in West
    Africa and want to know more about the environment. Does anyone have recommendations for resources? 

    Oumar MAIGA, A.M.ASCE
    Bamako, Mali West Africa

  • 2.  RE: Environmental Impact Studies

    Posted 09-04-2019 12:55 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-04-2019 12:55 PM
    Start with UN Reporting.
    Lots to explore there.

    Like a structural system must be complete for the building to have integrity, natural systems also work this way. When you pull one thing out, there are weaknesses in the system and unintended consequences.  
    Next place I would look are the annual reports of the largest non-profits concentrated where you are - and narrow your focus. 

    What are the top three environmental challenges for your nation and what strengths can you bring to bear? If it was:  Clean Water, Waste Management, and Habitat Loss (from industry/sprawl) then I would suggest your engineers background will be powerful.  You might support infrastructure to support clean water delivery, headwaters protection at major rivers, improved requirements / better practices for landfills / leachate / disposal, requiring Industry mitigate its impacts to the commons or support land use initiatives that help people live more sustainably together . .villages, then farms, then wild . . . . 

    Engineers now look to biomimicry for many solutions . . .think of Velcro - it mimics cockleburs. . . You have a great background to help policies protect what is natural for the future generation. 

    Best of Luck

    Lynne Baker A.M.ASCE
    HK>A Global
    San Diego CA

  • 3.  RE: Environmental Impact Studies

    Posted 09-04-2019 04:12 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-04-2019 04:11 PM
    Thanks Lynne Baker. The information was very useful.

  • 4.  RE: Environmental Impact Studies

    Posted 09-05-2019 10:49 AM
    I've seen many exchanges of information here and this has to be the best example of addressing a need I have ever witnessed. Great job Lynne in answering Oumar's question!  I also would like to thank you for the references.   ​​

    Larry Tortuya P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE
    Senior Project Manager
    Irvine CA

  • 5.  RE: Environmental Impact Studies

    Posted 09-05-2019 03:22 PM

    Thank you for your kind words.
    For Oumar and others in developing nations:

    I have managed the restoration of river systems damaged by sand and gravel mining, dumping, homeless / drug encampments, brownfields, and paradoxically, nearby infrastructure and entering flood control channels made of concrete. Floodways are poor areas for permanent buildings, but excellent sources for certain needs of man and modern systems of commerce. Modern water quality and sanitation systems may be necessary for population health.

    For instance, reservoirs remain useful in a modern water system, but may require dams and alteration of the natural state of flow that may be necessary to a local fishery.  Managing downstream impacts to protect fishery spawning areas is often possible if built into the plan, but flooding also must be anticipated.  Discharges from businesses and urban lands to rivers ideally do not lower water quality - but may utilize a combination of engineered and/or natural system to filter the issues prior to entering the main streamcourse.  

    The ideal state for water is "Fishable, Swimmable" without major impacts to children. You may not have this condition today, but wish to work towards it.

    The US does not have this in every instance, so I want to make clear that the ideal state is a challenge for all developed and developing nations.  Just to say that our nation does not yet have the perfect handle on this matter, but has made great strides from the 50's when commercial discharges polluted our waters significantly and groundwater impacts caused death, birth defects and other major population illnesses.  

    Engaging local people who make a living and benefit from clean water, particularly those who fish (See the non-profit Riverkeeper in the US) to monitor the health of water at a very local level has been effective. 

    Feel free to inquire further here about stream restoration. There are many qualified hydrologists and biologists in the US and across the world who can help re-engineer the natural system where useful.

    If possible, when adjacent lands can be acquired to be left in their natural state (and rarely are at this stage of population and development - but if they have not been paved over, there are good natural solutions to restoration), the watershed can assist in protecting surface water quality from manmade impacts very well.  There are many natural systems that can assist in water quality, so I advise to protect what remains in that state, particularly at the headwaters. It is often the most cost effective contribution to water quality.

    This also supports habitat protection where wildlife require a corridor to mate outside their gene pool and travel to food and shelter. Connection of wildlands sufficient to support the wildlife population throughout the region may be essential to prevent loss of species. Scientists can recommend what is necessary to provide sufficient species habitat so future generations retain the rich heritage we received. 

    Humans often need access to water for other needs of commerce and recreation. 
    Due to waters importance, you need to address flood control, habitat and water quality in the same areas to be efficient with land and water.  Maintaining attention to all three is a challenge for all - but when you address the system holistically and mimic nature, you may obtain the greatest benefit from the smallest investment. 

    Hope this discussion about addressing several needs in a holistic manner is helpful to you.
    I wish you the best.

    Lynne Baker A.M.ASCE
    Senior Consultant
    HKA Global
    San Diego, CA