Flow Monitoring Through the Years With Burgess and Niple

Data Delivery Services offers Plano, Texas, a viable solution

For more than two decades, Burgess and Niple have utilized Marsh-McBirney and Sigma flowmeters for their open channel monitoring projects. Today, the tradition continues.

Established in 1912, Burgess and Niple (B and N) is a full-service engineering and architectural firm headquartered in Columbus, Ohio with offices nationwide. B and N has served thousands of clients in the U.S. and abroad, including government agencies, military organizations, colleges and universities and a wide variety of private companies. It has designed roads, buildings, dams, tunnels, bridges, sewers and hydroelectric power plants. The company also inspects, surveys, studes, develops and plans. B and N is responsible for pioneering many techniques, including breakthroughs in water treatment and new approaches to bridge inspection and wastewater flow monitoring. As technology develops, B and N continues to work on the leading edge, always seeking innovative and cost effective solutions to benefit our clients and the environment.

Since its founding almost 100 years ago, B and N has provided environmental services to a variety of public and private clients. The company offers a wide array of geotechnical, hydrogeological, biological and industrial services. For B and N, the quality and accuracy of their projects are paramount, resulting in cost-effective, long-term solutions for their customers.

According to Leigh Cerda, professional engineer and senior project manager in B and N’s Austin, Texas office, "In our flow monitoring projects we pride ourselves in the fact that we apply the right equipment for the application. We look at the equipment from the perspective of the technology, not who it's manufactured by, but we also look at the customer service provided." Having previously worked for the city of Austin Water Utility prior to joining GSWW (now B and N), her experience is vast in wastewater flow monitoring. GSWW Inc. was founded in 1975 to provide specialized engineering and technical services to the water and wastewater collection industry and acquired by Burgess and Niple Inc. in 2009.

For more than 18 years, Cerda has worked with various brands of flow monitoring equipment and has seen firsthand the evolution of the equipment used to monitor wastewater flow. Cerda added, "We believe that each technology has an application; it is the educated user that can apply technologies correctly to get the most accurate results. It's not one size fits all." Cerda has received hands-on training from several flow meter manufacturers including Marsh, Sigma and now Hach and has seen the industry evolve through the years. She continued, "When we are selected for a project we are not just hired to complete the work. We want to show the customer how to use the equipment, what it can and cannot do and how to select a good site. We have a good foundation for approaching flow monitoring applications with a goal to get accurate data with the meter applied without fixing raw data. If you have to scrub a collected raw data set that typically means that something is not correctly applied. The meter doesn't lie. If you have applied the meter correctly, it's going to tell you the site flow conditions."

Cerda has worked with Hach Flow Meters (Sigma and Marsh-McBirney) brands since the early 90s. "We were using Marsh when it was manufactured by Marsh and have used American Sigma since the early days of wastewater flow monitoring as well." In fact, while Cerda was with the city of Austin she worked with the Sigma Models 920 and 930 when they were manufactured as "specials” or non-standard units. The meters were used in tunnel applications that utilized multiple sensors with one meter. Cerda also saw her first demonstration of the Marsh-McBirney Flo-Dar Radar Velocity Meter soon after it was launched. The demo was done by Macaulay Controls, the regional Hach flow meter rep.

Today, the Texas Regional Offices of B and N collaborate with other B and N offices by sharing their collection system flow monitoring knowledge. She noted, "Corporate wide we try to foster a mentality of working across office lines by sharing expertise. We like to pride ourselves on the fact that we have tried everything commercially available in the wastewater flow monitoring industry and we will apply what works for the site conditions."

Plano, Texas, and Data Delivery Services

When B and N had a requirement for 15 flowmeters for a collection system project in Plano, Texas, last year, they selected Hach's Data Delivery Services (DDS). The service is budget friendly for both short and long-term flow monitoring applications. With DDS, Hach takes the drudgery out of meter installation, maintenance and data collection. B and N personnel installed and maintained the web enabled flow meters for the project. Current DDS customers are seeing significant savings in their flow monitoring programs as well as freeing their personnel for other tasks. There is no need to purchase meters and users pay only for sewer flow data that also includes a guaranteed uptime. Unedited data from Hach web-enabled flow meters can be conveniently accessed 24/7 from any Web browser via a secure password protected site. Professional flow data reporting is easily accomplished via the graphical Web-based user interface. Hydrographs, scatter-plots and more are provided. Event notification alarms can be sent to customer specified recipients for any sensor parameter via e-mail or text.

Cerda commented, "We had a combination of Marsh-McBirney Flo-Dar and Sigma 930T's on this DDS project. The benefit we have found in the telemetry evolution is that it assists us in prioritizing our meter maintenance activities and provides for timely data processing and analysis throughout the monitoring period; saving project time and money.

The ability to look at the data from the telemetered sites via an intranet site allows us to evaluate meter performance at the installed locations and diagnose any changes that need to be made such as moving a site to another location. By utilizing DDS, we were able to predict monitoring issues early in the project rather than later in the process. We had a really good experience."

According to Cerda, all of their crews are trained and kept up-to-date on the equipment as well as the software. She added, "We do a lot of in the field training and make sure our staff, from the field crews to the engineers and project managers, are well versed on what they are doing. Field crews are our eyes and ears in the collection system; skilled professionals with a very important job. Our mantra is that wastewater flow monitoring is an art as much as it is a science. You have to work with it, you have to see it and you have to understand it. You have to see the flow in three dimensions and understand it is not two-dimensional and static; it's dynamic, moving and changing open channel flow in a closed conduit. It's a simple hydraulic principle that needs to be understood to accurately apply flow monitoring technology in field applications.”

With decades of flow monitoring project experience, Cerda has always recommended flow monitoring equipment and services that best fit each individual field application. "If I'm recommending it and if it's something that I put my professional reputation on, then it must work, otherwise why would recommend the equipment for the application?" She admitted that they are a "rare breed" at B and N as they really enjoy what they do and actually embrace it, working to learn all they can about open channel flow and flow monitoring. This knowledge has allowed them to strive to select the most reliable and accurate flow monitoring equipment on the market and provide quality service that in turn will provide accurate data analysis for all B and N clients.

Company Information

Burgess & Niple's New Iberia, LA 29-meter flow monitoring project mix of Sigma 910/920 flowmeters
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    Burgess & Niple's New Iberia, LA 29-meter flow monitoring project mix of Sigma 910/920 flowmeters
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    Plano, Texas -Data Delivery Services Web-Enabled Marsh-McBirney Flo-Dar and Sigma 930T flowmeters
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    DDS Lubbock, Texas Install (Hach's new FL900 Series Wireless flow logger pictured)