Finding the Right Balance: Protecting Maui's Critical Wastewater Infrastructure with Living Shorelines
The art of coastal engineering with Russ Broudreau.
This episode, Peter Ravella and Tyler Buckingham welcome Russ Boudreau (Principal, Coastal Fronteers) to the show to discuss the intricacies of coastal engineering through the lens of a project in Maui, Hawaii concerning the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility, the island's primary wastewater treatment plant. Located on the island's coast (think gravity), the facility was identified to be vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, winter waves, flooding, and inevitable sea level rise due to its low-lying beachfront location on the world-renowned high-wind and big-surf North Shore. Russ talks us through how this problem was tackled from an engineering perspective, resulting in an armored living shoreline solution that has shown to be effective.
Peter Ravella 0:00
Hello everybody and welcome to the American shoreline podcast. This is Peter Ravella, co host of the show.
Tyler Buckingham 0:06
And this is Tyler Buckingham, the other co host,
Peter Ravella 0:08
Tyler, we're going out to your neck of the woods on the west coast, Southern California.
Tyler Buckingham 0:13
It's been too long.
Peter Ravella 0:14
It has been a while since we've talked to some folks from Dan in that part of the American shoreline. And we're gonna be talking about coastal engineering today with one of the preeminent practitioners of the trade. Russ Boudreau with the coastal frontiers Corporation from Long Beach, California. So I'm really looking forward to knocking around a story or two about coastal engineering practice in the West Coast and maybe even get over to Hawaii.
Tyler Buckingham 0:42
I am looking forward to looking forward to it as well. Peter, getting out to the old homeland the West Coast, as my grandfather used to say just the coast When are you coming out to the coast? When I was in college I I'm looking forward to that and really looking forward to talking to Russ rushes. Russ has spent his entire career in coastal engineering spanning decades, and it'll be interesting to talk about him talk with him about the profession what's changed, and really kind of deep dive this interesting Hawaii project so I am looking forward to it but let's first start out with a quick word from our sponsors.
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Peter Ravella 3:04
Ladies and gentlemen, we're gonna be talking today to rescue drone. Russ. Welcome to the American shoreline podcast.
Russ Boudreau 3:11
Well, I really appreciate that Peter and Tyler, I really look forward to it. It's a it's an honor and I'm excited to do it and happy Earth Day.
Peter Ravella 3:21
Thank you very much. That's right. That's This Week for the audience's benefit out there rush. Russel Boudreau is a member of the board of directors of an organization. We are fond of the American shore and beach preservation Association. Russ served as the vice president of that organization for some years prior to becoming a member of the board. He is also a principal with coastal frontiers Corporation, a bowtique specialized and very high quality coastal engineering firm headquartered in Long Beach area of California. Prior to joining coastal frontiers, Russ spent a considerable time as a vice president with Moffat and Nicole, one of the great firms well known around the country and coastal engineering.
Tyler Buckingham 4:09
And it's got a pause here. If you're a person starting out your career, yes, and you're building your resume, you know, one of the things that you strive for is to have some longevity. Yeah, on your resume show that you can commit to something and really, Ross's resume has from 1986 which was the year I was born, ladies and gentlemen, to the year 2020, Moffat and nickel. That is
Peter Ravella 4:37
That is tenure. And he is also the author of a great paper in the fall 2018 edition of shore and beach magazine. The scientific journal of the ASBPA organization in titled Maui's living shoreline project provides adaptation strategy for critical infrastructure. We're looking forward to learning about what's going on in Maui and the project that Russ led in, in Hawaii. So yeah, really cool. This was a little discussion.
Tyler Buckingham 5:09
This article was from the fall of 2018. shore and beach edition. So it's a little bit of an older one. But we didn't have a chance back in fall of 2018. Peter to profile this particular issue, and this particular coastal project that was highlighted. So this is a great opportunity to serve, swing back around. Yeah. And take a trip out to Hawaii with our listeners, which I know everyone's going to enjoy. Well, before we do, let's get to know Russ a little bit.
Peter Ravella 5:37
Yeah, let's do, Russ, You know, one of the things we like to do, and especially for the young professionals who listened to the American Shoreline podcast, is talking about how you got into this profession. I wondered if you could introduce yourself to the audience a little bit and talk about your interest your early interest in what got you into coastal engineering?
Russ Boudreau 5:59
Absolutely. It's it's a topic I really liked to talk about coastal frontier, coastal engineering has been a been a great career choice for me and, and you mentioned Hawaii, I'm going to pivot to where I was born, which is actually in the Midwest. I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Wow. But my family moved to Long Beach, California when I was pretty young and, and my uncle had this beautiful, varnished mahogany sailboat. And we spent a lot of time with the family sailing in the nearby coastal waters competing all up and down to Southern California coast and offshore to Catalina. And so I really developed not just a love for the ocean, but also kind of a humility of how powerful the ocean can be. In addition to sailing, I really developed the love for surfing and windsurfing and found that the ocean and the coast has always provided a real elixir for me, in my life. And so academically, when I was younger, I really liked math and science, I guess stem we call that now. And so for an undergrad I chose obviously a coastal school. So I chose UC or University of California, San Diego. And after four years in a fairly theoretical program, my advisor told me that I was ready for graduate school. So Well, yeah, yeah, it's like, I've got some tools, but what do I do with them. And so I was just in the library leafing through various graduate program catalogs and University of California, Berkeley was when I was opened up. And there was this program called coastal and ocean engineering. And I had no idea that anything like that even existed. So long story short, I applied got accepted. And I was just so fortunate, because the head of the department, my advisor, Professor, Robert wiegel, was one of my my first and primary mentors. And I've just was so fortunate to work under Professor wiegel. For those of you who aren't officially familiar with Professor wiegel, he was one of the the modern pioneers of modern coastal engineering. Back in Berkeley, when I was doing my master's program, one of my fond memories is, and again, as you mentioned, I do have quite a bit of tenure. And so this was before numerical computer models of waves and things like that. So we did a lot of calculations by hand. And I remember doing a wave refraction diagram, which is a diagram that demonstrates how waves move from deepwater into shoreline and how they're affected by the shoreline and wrapped around headlands and Spanner spread out into men in payments and things like that. And so I was doing these refraction diagrams along the coast I was familiar with. And to me, it was just awesome to be able to apply these tools and actually see how ways progress onto a shoreline. So I really remember that that really stuck with me the power of those tools. And so, I really developed a love not just for Berkeley, but the San Francisco Bay Area. And so I decided I was going to stay up there for a while. I went to work for a more of an ocean engineering firm up there and did a lot of work in more than deep water and Arctic for more oil and graph oil and gas exploration. But I also continued to recreate and sail competitively up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I bring that up because San Francisco Bay is quite a large estuary. And I really learned a lot about the dynamics of these large estimating processes. You know, you think about the size of San Francisco Bay and all the water that's in this will be terms a title prism, the amount of water that comes in go over a tide cycle. All that Bay water comes in and out of the Golden Gate Bridge twice a day. And so the currents are very dynamic and complex. And if you're racing against other boats competitively, you want to get the competitive advantage of knowing where the current is going fast and the direction you want to go, and where it's going Not so fast in the direction you don't want to go. And so I learned a lot from the local salty guys up there in terms of getting some of the local knowledge. And then the only other thing I want to add about that is in the wintertime in the El Nino winter of the early 1980s, with a great deal of rain and runoff that we had, at least on the surface waters, there was we never saw any flood tides because with all the rain runoff, even during astronomical flood tidal water, which is epic, all all the water was doing with just leaving the bay all the time. And when there was a real lab tied these, I remember seeing these navigation buoys these large Bell buoys for navigation just laid over with a rooster tail. As all this current both the title current and the runoff was just flying through the bay. So Wow, that was a little bit of my experience up in the Bay Area. But I decided that I wanted to have a change and do a little bit more coastal work. And so I came back down to Long Beach in Southern California. And that's where I took my employment with Moffitt nickel. And, you know, I, the other speakers that I've heard on the American shoreline Podcast Network, there's this theme I really enjoyed is, you know, people in the profession, they talk about mentors and other folks that they've worked with, because you just don't do this alone, you collaborate and you you benefit from others knowledge. And so my second mentor was a gentleman, Kimo Walker, who was my supervisor at Moffett nickel. And interestingly, he got his PhD from the University of Hawaii in surfing of all things.
Tyler Buckingham 12:13
Unknown Speaker 12:14
Yeah, yeah, his PhD thesis was,
Peter Ravella 12:18
you know, I didn't have that option. That's a good one,
Tyler Buckingham 12:21
I didn't even know that was available.
Peter Ravella 12:23
We could have looked into that.
Russ Boudreau 12:25
It's really in it's in it's not just for me, it's really fairly technical thesis on physically what makes a surf break how to quantify it in terms of, you know, wave height, period, peel angles, steepness, it was really something and it really that work, formulated kind of the foundation for a lot of the really good work that's going on now, internationally in terms of designing artificial surfing reefs and things like that. So anyways, me fortunately, working under chemo, I got to go on out to Hawaii with him and learn about coastal engineering in Hawaii, the overall coastal processes, beaches, fringing, reefs, and things like that. So a couple of things I learned about that, and I'm setting up for my my discussion about the Maui project is a couple things they had to do right, you have to be able to pronounce the names properly. For example, one of my favorite beach parks in Maui was way out of Napa. And we're also going to need that skill. When you're at a public hearing or public presentation, you better make sure you know your Malka direction from your MCI direction, which is to the land or to the sea. And anyways, through that, that gave me kind of a good background for this county of Maui project I'd like to talk about a little bit today.
Tyler Buckingham 13:49
Well, we we do too, and we're going to get there. But I do want to the two things, I want to pause the chronology here at this stage in your life, you've gone to undergrad, you emerge with a degree in Applied Mechanics, I believe, which is definitely a stem heavy subject and go up to the bay after that to UC Berkeley, and get a master's degree. And the first thing I just wanted to ask you about is this is a really interesting time in California, the population is booming. So much of the LA basin and you know, as a as a child, myself of California, I've we had to take the history of the state and I know that so much of the development that I grew up with kind of happened, you know, maybe a little bit before during that period of time, but certainly after world war two up until the 80s. I mean, just a huge population growth, lots of growth up and down the state. Can you talk a little bit about what you were observing in California on the coast during that period of time, were you Was there anything about the way the state was changing from a land use perspective that caught captured your imagination even from that those early days?
Russ Boudreau 15:10
Well, I think, I guess one thing that stands out to me in terms of land use and water was, again, this may be a little bit for going to Berkeley, but the state of California passed the Coastal Act, which really limited impacts to the environment to the water and things like that. And so one of the things I just did that was profound to me, that I noticed was how much Mother Nature have the ability to lick her wounds and improve the situation, the water quality back in the late 60s and 70s, in the ports and harbors was really bad. And once the Coastal Act was put into place, and industry was really regulated in terms of point source pollution, and things like that, and it was dramatic, but I noticed how much the water quality really improved. So that was a pleasing thing. To me, that was a positive. You know, back then it just seemed like, you know, beaches, for the most part were pretty wide, that there was a lot of still growth potential and things like that. But it hasn't been into more recent years when we realize that that population grows, but the beaches don't in fact, the beaches kind of shrink. And we were just kind of going through in the 70s in the 80s. This this kind of paradigm shift of no all these resources aren't unlimited. These wetlands for example, Bolsa Chica for an example, when I first started at Moffat and Nichol in the in the mid 80s, one of the first things I was tasked with was, you know, well, there's this this wetland, we're going to kind of dredge it out and put another Marina there, and, you know, how big should the bridge be, and all this stuff and, and soon thereafter, I certainly had concerns about that was people so whoa, wait a minute, you know, these things are of great value, we've damaged and destroyed many of our wetlands, we need to completely rethink how we manage our coasts, and really value the ecosystems. And so that's probably one of the keys things that I noticed was this big shift away from development and expand to really taking care of what we got and protecting.
Tyler Buckingham 17:30
Well said, and definitely, you know, when, as a child of Ventura County, which is, I believe, the most armored county in the state of California. I know that a lot of that armoring was constructed during roughly during this period of time, and makes it very interesting time before we move on again, I'm in this pause state in the story. Could you take us on to the Berkeley campus in like, 1979? What was it like up there? I would just love Dave to get your least at least one store. Yeah. What was it like on the Berkeley campus during that period of time?
Russ Boudreau 18:11
Well, it was a little bit after, you know, kind of the Wild 60s and things like that, in fact, honestly, you know, for being down in Southern California, and trying to figure out what I wanted to do for graduate school. I wasn't that keen on Berkeley because I thought there was a lot of crazy people up there and and I just enjoyed the beach and just wanted to keep doing what I was doing. But the the program of coastal engineering was so compelling. I had to go up there and never having been there. It really opened my eyes. It was a it was there was like think with any university, a little bit nutty and you had the you know, the naked guy who was around you know, preaching it the campanelli and things like that. But you know, it was it was I think it was a little bit after the the least the radical part of Berkeley and so to me was just kind of a really environment of strong international flair. And of just a strong academic site. I honestly I studied pretty hard while I was up there, you know, so but I did squeeze a lot of sailing as I indicated Well,
Tyler Buckingham 19:21
I love that you know, I Ladies and gentlemen, East Bay is a beautiful area host Leslie Ewing lives in Berkeley, California, actually put us up when we were covering Peter, the International ocean Film Festival a couple years ago. It was great. And it is a beautiful coastal community area of the American shoreline. And Russ, I lived in the Emeryville Marina on sale. Did you really I really did. It was an interesting period of time in my life. But the great location for you from the Berkeley hills, you just go right down the hill to the Bay. I mean, come on.
Russ Boudreau 20:01
Yeah. And you can plus from the Berkeley hills, you will get this incredible panoramic view of the entire San Francisco Bay from the North Bay, to the South Bay and do west to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. And if you lined it up just right, you can look through the Golden Gate Bridge and see the the Faroe Islands offshore. So it is and it's still just an absolutely idyllic place. Well,
Peter Ravella 20:27
Russ, I think what's interesting about that introductory story, and thank you for taking us through that. That process of your early career, there's two major transitions that you talked about that I want to expand on a little expand on a little bit. One was the nature of, of coastal engineering investigation at the time under Professor regal, who is renowned, of course, in the coastal engineering profession, there at Berkeley, but it's this observational understanding of coastal processes. This is pre computer modeling. This is back in the slide rule days in the calculation days. And it reminds me Tyler of our discussion with john Pope, dr. john Pope, formerly with the Corps of Engineers, who was also coming into her professional life and in this time period, and talked about the value of observational coastal engineering, and analysis, because this was when you had to go out and look and you had to watch and you had to be at the waves you had to and you understand it, that there's less of that now. And I wondered if you could talk about how that was approached back in the day? And what do you think, if anything, has been lost in our strong toward turn toward high tech computer modeling of coastal systems?
Russ Boudreau 21:46
Right, right. That's a really good observation, a really good question. So yeah, yeah. When I was at Cal working on our professor wiegel, very, very strong emphasis on analytical tools of observation and doing work in in the lab, because we had these certain, you know, physical laws of similitude. And so we could comfortably try to replicate, you know, physical processes, as long as we understood the limitations of these these physical models, and learn a lot. And if we could replicate what we saw in them in nature, that we can measure a nature, then then maybe we can predict outcomes for other projects that we do like, like putting in a short protection or or putting in a breakwater, or maybe putting in a cooling water jet, you know, into an embayment, or something like that. So it was very empirical. And you learn from that, and some of the, and we are getting away more from the physical model testing, or even the observations, because I think we're, I mean, these models that we have now, these computer simulation models are very powerful. But yeah, they're only as good as the information you, you put in them. And so we have to be very, very careful. And some of the best computer modelers that are the modern day modelers, the good ones are the ones that are that are pretty skeptical about, about, you know how the model works, and you better make the model prove that it can replicate something that they really saw. They really measured, you know, some of my experience has been, you just can't imagine something unless you, you see it physically in a storm, or you're in a laboratory, I learned so much, you know, working out the waterways, Experiment Station, which is now ergodic for the Corps of Engineers for some breakwater design projects. And you build these scale models, but you really watch and see how the, the armor stones actually lift up and move a little bit and settle. And we learn, for example, that forever a break water, you need the biggest stone on the back, not the front because of gravity of the waves going over the top, you know, and you wouldn't learn that by looking at a computer model. So all I can really say is don't rely completely on these very fancy computer models. And certainly, nowadays with the these graphic interfaces and video simulation, it looks so real, you figure Well, it's got to be right. But it's just math,
Unknown Speaker 24:24
they are beautiful,
Unknown Speaker 24:25
You gotta get your input conditions. Right.
Tyler Buckingham 24:27
That's, I find that so first of all, great question, Peter. And I really appreciate that. And kind of a theme that we talked about from time to time, is how computing and are kind of leaning on. That tool can maybe atrophy other elements of the game and when we're talking about these old guys, I've done not not you Russ, but I'm talking about the fathers, the fathers of the profession, you're at least like an uncle or something like that. But um When we're talking about these, these people without computers, really, I mean, they had physics, they had Newtonian physics, and like, observation, the laboratory, and the imagination. I mean, I think that to, to work your brain into a place where you can observe the most minute details of a boulder moving just just just minute, Lee, I think is just such a an important skill of being perceptive just being perceptive to the physical world in just the most, you know, subtle and in seemingly small ways. I don't know, Peter, I feel like that is like maybe the at the nexus of what made coastal engineering I mean, for the for the pioneers? Yeah. So interesting.
Peter Ravella 25:52
Well it's, you know, to me, Russ, it's a little bit it's a good reminder of the capacity to understand complex problems in the days before sophisticated, sophisticated computer modeling. And we remember we got to the moon with slide rules, there was a little bit of a computer on celestial navigation ti 30. But these guys through calculate men and women through calculation, and other techniques, which were could get it done, and I think some great coastal engineering, of course, the principles of coastal engineering, were laid down by the folks back in the day, I think, is that fair to say, Russ, I think is that as the profession advanced, a great deal changed in its fundamental understanding of the dynamics of the coastal environment over your career, or do you think the old guys kind of had it down?
Unknown Speaker 26:41
The old guys really had it down but but they were really the pioneers, you know, the, you know, the wiggles and, and the bob Dean's and the others that are of that era, they really advanced from what was really a flood fledgling understanding of coastal processes, because things that happened in the early 1900s, for example, just clearly flew in the face of reasonable coastal engineering, why would you put a harbor there, once you put it there, it shows them immediately. So we learn these things, you know, it, you know, and I think a lot of that maybe was generated, you know, due to necessity, either through preparation for war time for, you know, for World War Two and things like that, that got a lot of the great minds together of, of, you know, building, you know, naval shipyards and protecting ships and beach landings and things like that. So I think that could have been a Nexus there, but that really got it going. And I think these these, these people were the right people at the right time. And they were really visionary, and just their their capacity to do so much research. You know, their breadth of the work that they did is just astounds me, and I think it's just refined. Since then, I'm not aware of any huge breakthroughs other than just refining our tools better and better with these computer simulation models and things like that.
Tyler Buckingham 28:03
All right. We're gonna move along back to the back to the timeline. Okay, so you're just starting at Moffitt and Nicole, we're going back to the beginning back to the beginning of your professional career at six. I would like to learn how can you tell us about what Moffat and nickel was like starting back then? It's still around Moffitt and nickel still my understanding of major firm major company here on the American shoreline. I see Moffat and nickel at every ASB pa I think as a as a sponsor and Russ, what was it like walking into the office there on your first day at Moffitt and nickel? And did you have any idea that you'd be there till 20 2036 years,
Unknown Speaker 28:48
you know, my my time there didn't really surprise me because I knew I really like it. And I just had a really good feeling about it. And I had a connection, I knew jack nickel, who was kind of like the second generation nickel, I knew him personally. And so I knew about the firm coming in and how much of a just a real fine person he was not to mention a really good engineer. So I had a pretty good idea that I was gonna fit in there well, but I had no idea just how stimulating the career of coastal engineering would be. Because the opportunity to work on so many different types of projects from a simple shore protection project to an ecosystem restoration project or a big, you know, trying to figure out you know, how to deal with a ship surge problem at a harbor that people didn't understand. So just these different types of problems that that you just have to get your tools and your teams and and collaborate and try to figure out the best way to you know, to solve them. So As I worked my way up into the company and I would begin to be supervising and interview the next generation of coastal front coastal engineers. My one line I would always say that prospective employees was I'm going to only promise you one thing is that is that you're never going to be bored.
Peter Ravella 30:20
Yeah, because a great dramas,
Unknown Speaker 30:22
so many different exciting things. And, and in coastal engineering, it's different than other disciplines within civil engineering. Because there's, there is no, there's no code. There's no design manual, per se. It's a lot of head scratching, and collaboration and using your judgment and maybe build a pilot project and see how that works. There's a lot of there's a lot of unknowns because we're land and sea meat. It's very, very complex.
Tyler Buckingham 30:53
Do you remember Do you remember your first project that you worked on with Moffat and nichol?
Russ Boudreau 30:59
Actually, um, yeah, it was actually, it was an interesting shore protection project down in South Laguna Beach called Blue Lagoon of all things. And it was just a an area that the homes were built on these slabs, without really good foundations, and they were suffering from some erosion and things like that. So one of my first project was to kind of helps us out that problem and understand a lot more about the coastal processes of how sand moved around. And some of these areas in Southern California, where we've got bi directional waves, we got, you know, Southern hammock you got waves from the south in the summer, from the west and the winter, in these embayments. And so the sound sometime just goes from one end to the other, like a teeter totter so that I learned a lot about these things. Early on, so but it was just that was one of so many things. It was just like, drinking from a firehose are just so many things to do and learn it was really very exciting.
Peter Ravella 32:04
It's it's the most artistic of engineering professionals, in my opinion, because as you've mentioned, the dynamic nature of the environment you're operating in, I like to say when when we're explaining beach nourishment projects to folks with bed when Tyler and I used to work on funding these things, and trying to get tax increases from the public and explaining what the engineers was doing. Were doing was a sort of final design by God was a phrase I like to use to explain what the adjusted beach profile really was. I mean, the engineers do a certain thing. And the final look and feel of this beach is going to be a subject of the natural system that it operates in. It's It's unlike any other I think, profession structural engineering, where it precision and exactitude is the highest calling and in coastal engineering, it's about anticipation, and change and dynamic systems. And it's a little different profession. I just think it's, it's great. It's got to be a great career.
Tyler Buckingham 33:05
Well, should we head out to Maui?
Peter Ravella 33:06
Well, I do what I do want to Yes, we should address we want to talk about this Maui project. And I wanted to pick up the other transition that you talked about in your introductory remarks about the appreciation of, of the natural systems along the coast, you're talking about Marina installation in certain wetlands. And as that was a booming business, back in the day, maybe with not a lot of cautious thought about that it was just simply about improvements in infrastructure. We've moved to a point where over your career, it seems the coastal engineering profession has advanced well beyond armoring shore protection and structures into this more difficult, complex world of living shorelines and engineering with nature is the phrase we often hear. And of course, that was kind of what you were dealing with over there in Maui. And so I wondered if you could kind of set up the conversation about your work in Maui. In light of this transition in the coastal engineering profession.
Russ Boudreau 34:13
Well, yeah, that that this Maui project really exemplifies. And I'll talk a little bit about the issues and the evolution of solving the problem that really turned out both in terms of what made sense in Maui. So spatially but also temporally, what also made sense, you know, for the right solution at the right time, as we're trying to be smarter with these limited natural resources. You know, with the with the pending sea level rise, it was I think, we feel was an elegant solution, but it took a while to to get there. And so with that I if you'd like I can start give a little bit of background.
Peter Ravella 34:55
Yeah, please do give us an overview of the of the problem you were asked. To tackle in Maui, with the wastewater treatment plant.
Russ Boudreau 35:04
Sure. So the as far as the the setting, this is located on the North Shore of Maui. So for those of you not familiar, the North Shore of Maui, it's similar characteristics of the North Shore of the water in the wintertime, there's really big surf, there's the world famous piai surf break, otherwise known as Jaws, is on the North Shore of Maui. There's world class, you know, wind surfing and kite surfing. But there's also just really great both active and passive coastal recreation for for locals and visitors alive. It's just a really interesting and just beautiful environment. But while it's ideally suited for very active ocean recreation, including the big winds and waves, I talk about no surprise that these also contribute to pervasive erosion problems. So if you think of Maui, if you envision on a map, it's oriented roughly east to west, and there's kind of a big mountain on the east and a big mountain on the west with a very low isthmus that connects the two. And in this very low lying isthmus is where the the county of Maui operates. The the wailuku kahului wastewater reclamation facility near Hawaii, where if you've ever gone in the airport is right there. And also called Louis Harbor, and this is on the north shoreline of the systems. And obviously, I think you don't have to think too hard about the geography to realize why they put a wastewater reclamation facility at the bottom of the hill,
Peter Ravella 36:44
right. But everything's got to flow downhill. And we've got a discharge point,
Tyler Buckingham 36:50
that seems like a good engineering decision and on Well, you know,
Peter Ravella 36:53
I think, Russ, it's interesting, because we see this all around the world is is, is significant infrastructure projects like this, including airports, this is true of San Francisco International Airport, essentially built at the water's edge. And that creates a unique kind of risk LA x in the dunes, LA x advise you as you get down to climate change and sea level rise these you need to build
Tyler Buckingham 37:18
open flat space. Yeah. JFK in New York,
Peter Ravella 37:22
yes. Built in the wetlands. Yeah.
Tyler Buckingham 37:24
Yeah, it's a good place for an airport for
Peter Ravella 37:26
you to go can flies for wastewater. But that that the problem, of course, is, as you're saying, in this particular environment, that key facility is then at risk. And I understand in this particular case, the facility, the wastewater treatment plant was what did it ever get damaged? Or was it in at risk of being damaged?
Russ Boudreau 37:51
There was a little bit of flooding actually due to a tsunami that, I think is right around the I forget the year, maybe 2014 2015, something like that. But other than that, no, but but very close. But it was never to the point threatened there was some times when erosion actually undermine some of the pipelines that were the infrastructures that connected infrastructure that connected the injection wells. So that was a trigger of concern. So that's about as close as you'd want it to get. Because not only do we have these injection wells, but you know, you've got right behind those chlorine storage building and from what the mechanical engineers or chemical engineers tell them to get. Don't want to mix Korean with no see. So, so. So yeah, so it was back in 2005, when they realized they had a real challenge, because the available treatment capacity due to population growth in the area was projected to run out in 10 years. So they had to decide, okay, well, are we going to expand the capacity, we already know that it's in an eroding area. And so we were part of a team that did a study of what should be done. And the key result that came out of the study was that, yeah, if you want to relocate the plan, to higher ground, safer ground, that could be done to the tune of $400 million. Whereas protecting it in place, and upgrading the capacity for for population growth was $30 million. So this is a you know, this is a public utility and, and I can't have a small area, so it wasn't too hard for them to figure out that they just couldn't afford the $400 million price tag. And so the the challenge to the county and the team was to upgrade the facility, protect against shoreline erosion and tsunami as well as the future seal arrives and and do it in a way that avoided minimized or mitigated any any negative environmental impact. So that was the The challenge faced by the county and,
Peter Ravella 40:02
Russ, this is, as you said, 2005, you get brought in to help the county tackle this problem? Was sea level rise a clearly understood factor in the calculations and analysis that you did? Or was the profession not quite there yet. I can't remember 2005, where we were we've serious about sea level, I was in high school friends at that time.
Russ Boudreau 40:29
We were we were talking about it and when we would, because when we talk about design conditions and design basis, we would look at still water levels. And so we were aware that historically, sea levels were rising, but it was under a foot for every 100 years. And, and I think in Hawaii, it may have been a little bit more, because it's not just global sea level rise, but it's relative sea level rise, and some of the islands are the older islands are sinking a little bit. So there's a little bit more relative sea level rise, but it wasn't, it wasn't a significant issue compared to some of the other things, you know. So we talked about it. And we may have put in like an allowance of a foot of sea level rise over the life just to account for other uncertainties and things like that. But it wasn't really considered or included as a kind of an important design parameter until maybe, you know, 5678 years ago, I think, has really taken a hard look at it. Well,
Tyler Buckingham 41:32
I'm curious as to let's let's go back to this moment where you've you've the utility has a decision to make you can Well, maybe not exactly, you know, that relocating the facility is just prohibitively expensive. Without I don't know, like a major federal grant, this wastewater facility is not going to be able to move, but a keeping it in place and fortifying the area and making it work. There is still, as you say, a $30 million project. How was was funding being talked about at this time? How was the funding for this project being approached?
Russ Boudreau 42:16
Um, I don't have the best answer for that I wasn't really working with the county as far as how they were going to fund it. I know, there was some discussions of passing on certain of the cost to, you know, rate increases and things like that. And I'm not sure what the magnitude of those were. Nor do I did I understand, maybe did they have to have something in the budget in anticipation, because they had been tracking this increasing demand. And so they had a pretty good feel for, you know, in year 2015, we're going to be out of capacity. So we need to figure this out in 2005, so that they did do some good planning. So maybe the good planning was also included in their their budgeting, but I definitely know that that the $400 million price tag was something that there's just no way they felt comfortable with.
Peter Ravella 43:12
Well, what did Russ after, after the analysis in the work? What did you decide to do? What did your team recommend in terms of strategy to protect this facility?
Russ Boudreau 43:24
We first what we want to do is to make sure we understood the problem instead of just dealing with the symptoms. And so we spend some time understanding why the beach was eroding, such that we can anticipate Well, is it is that something that's going to continue to accelerate or to level off and so we looked at a variety of cultural processes because, again, I think it's it's obvious, but what I'm talking about here is the incredibly valuable resource of the amount of beach sand fronting the facility. That's the it's natural shore protection. With a wide beach there's nothing to worry about, due to erosion or civil rights. It's when we lose that sandy beach, that the ocean comes closer to the structure and clauses causes erosion and flooding threat. So so so that's the important parameter. So we look at, you know, how the sediment has moved by waves how it's moved by by wind, wind driven sediment transport is really important, as well as what's been happening with the coastal Dune and the reef system because all those contribute to the the sediment budget. And since this area was had been eroding over time, we coastal engineers describe that as being a situation of being in a sediment budget deficit. So how do we deal with that?
Peter Ravella 44:50
So this is a case where in the good old days they might put up something like the Galveston seawall and get the cement trucks out and put a form together and just start building the biggest concrete wall. You can between the facility and the ocean. That wasn't the solution you came up with. Talk to us about what you recommended and what actually was successfully installed installed in this location.
Russ Boudreau 45:11
Right? The actually early in the seven in the mid 70s. Not too long after it was built, they already had an erosion problem. They had some storms and they brought the Corps of Engineers in, and they were going to armor the whole shoreline. But they didn't have the funding. So they only ordered armored a small part of this province here promontory, which protects this holding or this detention pond and the rest of the shoreline became threatened later, which was the problem we were dealing with so so as coastal engineers to solve this problem, as well, the most direct antidote to erosion or seal arise is to put sand back on the beach. So beach nourishment was a lead alternative. But considering the the critical nature of this, this infrastructure and the the sensitivity of it to flooding, and that the consequences of that was a concern that we felt that it should also be include a short protective device, some type of short protection should be included, regardless, but it would be good to do that with beach nourishment. So the alternatives were true protection, beach nourishment, or the combination thereof, but really strongly can driving on not just being beach nourishment, just due to the risk. So that was the kind of the number of alternatives that were put forward to the townie those went out to the resource agencies and the public. And basically, after a good amount of time, the the state of lead or the county at least the wastewater division said that they just weren't in the beach nourishment business because the state had a chronic lack of sand resources. So that was going to be very expensive. And also interestingly, in Hawaii, there's one of the resorts agencies, the Department of Health puts a real strong restrictions on beach nourishment or any type of sediment that goes in the Marine waters, they a lot of the the, they look at that as being a pollutant due to turbidity concerns. And so with that, back to the drawing board, and so we worked with a county in the team and we came up with a hybrid solution that has a variety of different elements. It has managed retreat. We knew it was a challenge. We didn't want to armor the shoreline, right where it was because of the impact of that on access and coastal processes. So we've talked to the county and said you've got some land before you lose enough property that you're right up against EasyJet injection wells, how about you give that up? Not immediately, but as it erodes away, if it does, you have that be sacrificial. And we'll bury a short protection resentment right up as close as we can go to the the injection wells as close as we can get to the primary infrastructure. And then with the material that's liberated from that excavation, we're going to bury the river that bedding completely covered up the rocks. And we're going to plan that with Dune plants to make it basically a living Dune shoreline. And that's the project that was done, we also did some elements to raise the adjacent shore protection that was put in, in the 1970s to raise it up to accommodate the sea level rise of three feet that we were projecting to match the design that we were going with. So it was kind of that hybrid solution of managed retreat, dealing with it by putting some armor in there, but also trying to move the threat away by putting some sand and doing living Dune on the beach to do that. And so that was it was the county approved that and and it was approved and the county and the project went forward.
Tyler Buckingham 49:08
Tell us a little bit about the in the in the white paper ladies and gentlemen and Shawn beach, which will link to in the show notes here. And I encourage you all to look at. There are some great images but there happens to be a profile image kind of a slice of this resentment. Could you just talk us through kind of the engineering considerations in this harden structure I see that you've got it appears to have some sort of footing of smaller stone and then large boulders to make up the principal armor. Can you talk a little bit about the how this thing works?
Russ Boudreau 49:47
Yeah, sure. It's
just so what we're looking at a situation of let's say a big storm event, the dune is washed away and so you've got this this rabbet mature protection to protect the structure A lot of times you get some erosion right at the toe of the structure. And sometimes you can't due to due to limitations of equipment or whatnot, you can't build the the foundation deep enough to limit undermining. And so at the front of the structure, there's this horizontal section called a sacrificial apron. And so if we get some erosion out in front of the structure, that flat part will settle down into that scour area, but not kind of undermine the slope above it. So that's one of the things that's put in there. And then we also it's, it's designed as a filter, you want to have nice big porous stones, that are not going to move significantly when you've got a 10 foot wave breaking right on it. So that's what determines the size of the outermost layer. And the coastal engineers have various calculations of hydraulic stability. But then you also don't want to lose Sandy, very fine material from the other side of that. So we placed the really big stone on smaller stone is kind of a filter. But then that's still not small enough to filter the sand material that's behind it. So then as the foundation for this double layered rock revetment, we put in what we call geo geotextile filter fabric, which will dissipate, you know, water, water can flow in and out, but the sediment will not be pumped or jetted through for the land side to the ocean during storm events. So it really limits any further loss of land from behind the resentment. And we designed them to be high enough such that you don't get a great deal of flooding, but they are designed to have some overtopping but just as as a an amount that's manageable for the proximity, the type of land and the type of infrastructure that's immediately behind?
Tyler Buckingham 51:51
Well, it looks again, in the photographs in the paper, it looks really cool. And you know, you can see the excavator there, it gives you a sense of scale, to the size of these rocks, boulders, I guess I'm going to call them that are going in there. And they are kind of placed, you know, they're not just thrown in willy nilly, these are carefully these are very carefully placed in there. And it looks like it almost looks like a like driveway pavers or something the way that they kind of lock in. But anyway, so that this goes in, and then it got covered up with the sand that was displaced to kind of dig this hole to put it in. And then vegetated and moving along here to kind of the final phase. But now what now when you look at this thing you would never ever know that this was there, Russ, it seems like it's just a superb outcome. Let's talk about how this how upon completion how this thing has performed. Yeah,
Russ Boudreau 52:54
I'm just I'm, I'm so proud of of this project and and how it worked out because I love the fact that it's there. But you wouldn't even know it. It's just there, it's buried. It's like an insurance policy. That's all paid up and ready to go. And so yeah, it's it's actually been tested. And I've you know, stayed in pretty close contact with the County of Maui. And there have been a number of fairly active hurricane seasons. And so what happens is, you have these big storm waves, they pull sound offshore off into the reef area and so it kind of chews away at the toe the dune and so what happens is we lose sand at the dune at the toe of the dune we lose some of the dune plants and that exposes I've never seen pictures of the most of the revetment being exposed but maybe the lower third of it being exposed basically to resist the the wave attack. But then months after the seasons change the beach builds back up. And this dude and plant in this case, it's I think it's a beach Morning Glory is fairly robust, and it just grows right back. So I mean, it really really, really suits the definition of a living shoreline.
Peter Ravella 54:06
It does it's it's, it's it's a creative and innovative and beautiful solution to a tricky problem as you say with the facility being located where it is it is not going to be removed or relocated. The risk of storm surge inundation is real with the with the chlorine plants associated with this wastewater treatment facility and the wastewater itself and a narrow shoreline and, and regulatory considerations that are applicable here from the Department of Health and that the problems with turbidity in in traditional beach nourishment and what I love about this example Ras and why I think it's such an important example is as for folks out there to understand the complexity of considerations that really come into play in coastal engineering. And while I do think it is an art, you have to be super creative to define the right formula. And it looks like just a tremendous outcome does the track in terms of the level of protection required, but the shoreline looks beautiful and it's when was it completed? What year? Was it finished?
Russ Boudreau 55:22
It was finished in 2015. So it's had about six years to you know, basically perform.
Peter Ravella 55:30
Yeah. Well, that's pretty good. And I know that we had a few hurricanes in the last couple of years and the prognosis is we're going to have more. So, an outstanding result. Ladies and gentlemen, it is Russ Russell Boudreau, with with the coastal frontiers Corporation, one of the great specialized coastal engineering firms in America. And the paper which is in the fall 2018 edition of short and beach magazine. We will include it in the show description is called Maui's resilient living shoreline project provides adaptation strategy for critical infrastructure. It's a great paper very innovative and a really good example of the art of coastal engineering up final thoughts, Russ?
Russ Boudreau 56:19
Absolutely. I obviously I love talking about this profession. And I've just gotten so much from it. So I like to give back what I've gotten out of the profession doing things like this to talk about it to generate interest and excitement with with younger engineers or younger students who are contemplating you know, what career path they might take, because it sure was wonderful for me and and I think we all know that that now more than ever, there's many challenges ahead for coastal scientists and engineers and and we need folks who are sharp and who are passionate about our coasts and oceans. We absolutely do.
Tyler Buckingham 56:59
Totally and let me just add Ross, I hope we can convene in person at ASB pa is fall conference in New Orleans, that would be I that would be cool to
Peter Ravella 57:12
I hope we get to do that.
Tyler Buckingham 57:13
have a beer together or something at some point and really great, really great talking to you, Russ.
Russ Boudreau 57:19
I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me.