Waterways Management Specialty Group

ELM has developed an advanced group of environmental professionals that specialize in working together to manage projects along waterways.  Successful management of projects along waterways for a range of clients for over 30 years has refined our staff's capabilities to formulate unique approaches to complex problems.  These strategies bring stakeholders together to optimize the benefits of actions over the short term and long term planning horizon.

In particular, ELM's Waterways Management Specialty Group (WMSG) recognizes that large projects along waterways pose a unique set of management challenges such as:

  • Multiple Stakeholder Interests
  • Multiple Stressors (past and present; local, regional, and global)
  • Multiple Uses of Open Water Areas
  • Multiple landscapes, comprised of a spectrum of natural and modified habitats
  • Multiple regulatory requirements and jurisdictions, Federal (e.g., CERCLA, NEP), State, and Local
  • Mosaics of Land Uses, rural, suburban, and urban
  • Long term causes of conditions
  • Long timeframe of solutions
  • Changing conditions over course of projects (e.g., climate change, redevelopment)

To manage these complex projects, ELM's WMSG engages a team of inter-disciplinary professionals and a combination of scientific methods, technologies, engineering knowledge, socio-economic analysis, and planning tools including:

  • An Adaptive Management Approach
  • Watershed context
  • Water Budget-Based Analysis
  • Natural Capital Perspective
  • Scientific approach to understanding uncertainty
  • Empirical approach to identify controlling factors (State) or system drivers
  • Emphasis of Graphical Displays, Exposure Pathway Assessment, and Conceptual Analytical Models, before engaging Detailed Statistics, Quantitative Risk Assessment, or Numerical Models
  • Spatial/Temporal Data Management to support evaluation of Management Alternatives (non-engineering and engineering)
  • Trends and Gradients Analysis in relation to stressors (direct, indirect, cumulative) to evaluate the trajectories of valued resources under baseline conditions and Management Alternatives
  • Integration of traditional and ecological engineering solutions
  • Predict outcomes of management options with strategies to reduce uncertainties
  • Risk Analysis in a Benefit-Cost Analysis context
  • Integrating community health and environmental planning
  • Communication with stakeholders

ELM's Approach

Beyond the perspective and tools described above, ELM's integrated approach emphasizes development of conceptual site models that are compatible with the regulatory and state/local planning policies and form a basis for a path forward towards project-specific solutions.  Visual presentation of ideas supported by sound science, engineering and the application of technologies is used to engage stakeholders (e.g., local communities to Federal natural resource trustees) in a collaborative process that balances competing interests and leads to a shared vision.

Maintaining project momentum is essential if the process is to be results and outcomes oriented.  This requires the proper sequencing of data collection and analysis, as well as proactive presentation and discussion of alternatives to improve impacted conditions in a manner that optimizes the benefits realized costs.  Recognizing that improvements to waterways is a long term process that carries with it much uncertainty, ELM integrates an adaptive management approach with the regulatory, planning and finance objectives of its clients and the other stakeholders.

ELM's WMSG services are coordinated by Dr. Peter Brussock.  You can contact him at PPBrussock@elminc.com with any questions about these services.