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Ile des Cannes Watershed Model cited in national engineering competition

Lafayette firm's cutting-edge model provides more accurate assessment of flood hazards
Road closures still in effect due to flooding in Stephensville
Posted at 10:30 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 11:30:09-04

C.H. Fenstermaker & Associates, of Lafayette, has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies' 54th annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for developing a new modeling tool to map flood hazard areas within the 52-square-mile Ile des Cannes Watershed for the City of Scott and Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government.

After integrating bathymetric and topographic survey data that captured the effects of several decades' worth of channel modification projects, the project team validated the model using data collected from two separate storm events through the use of drone technology and high-water marks on vertical surfaces. The calibrated model was then used to produce base hazard maps for a wide range of major flood events, according to a release by the American Council of Engineering Companies.

This modeling removed 3,400 acres and 1,175 structures from federally designated Flood Hazard Areas. The City of Scott and Lafayette Parrish now have an accurate tool to regulate floodplain policy and more accurately prioritize improvement projects. To date, the model has been utilized to show the benefits of channel improvements, regional detention projects, and no-rise analyses that have been awarded more than $9 million in grant funding from various government agencies

The project is eligible for additional honors as part of 173 entries this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world, according to the release. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the "Academy Awards of the engineering industry"– took place in February and was conducted by a national 20-member panel of built-environment leaders, along with experts from government, media, and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners—20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards, and the prestigious "Grand Conceptor Award" for the year's most outstanding overall engineering achievement—will take place during the 2021 Virtual EEA Gala, to be held Thursday, June 17, 2021.

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