Geotechnical Firm, USACE Pair Up to Bolster Levee Systems
Geotechnology Inc. is entering the second year of an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) five-year contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the Corp’s Memphis District. In addition to the base year contract value of $1.44 million, the first option year increased the total contract value to $2.9 million.
Under the contract, Geotechnology, a provider of geotechnical and environmental engineering, exploration, geophysics, water resource management and materials testing services, is performing geotechnical drilling, testing services, and data collection and analysis.
With the vital information supplied by Geotechnology, the USACE is preparing the design work for a variety of geotechnical improvements that are necessary to safely maintain and improve the Mississippi River Valley levee system.
These geotechnical investigations are determining the geologic and soil conditions that affect the safety, cost effectiveness, design and execution of engineering projects affecting the Mississippi River Valley’s levees.
Geotechnology’s staff is working closely with the Corps of Engineers to quantify present subsurface conditions that will assist the Corps with the design of future improvements to the levee systems within the district that will protect people, communities and economies throughout the region.
One of 45 districts in the USACE, the Memphis District covers six states and a 25,000-square-mile area of the mighty Mississippi. It is responsible for maintaining and improving over 640 miles of mainline levees along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, eight inland harbors and 254 miles of the navigational channel on the White River in Arkansas. The Corps also oversees activities involving levees, floodwalls and associated seepage mitigation measures (berms, relief wells and slurry trenches).
The Geotechnology IDIQ contract requires the firm to respond to the Corps’ evolving needs, and includes projects such as seepage remediation, levee setbacks, flood wall evaluations and borrow pit evaluations.
Geotechnology has assigned staff from four different drilling offices throughout the country to ensure that the projects have the resources needed to meet their needs. Laboratory work and boring log preparation are being performed in Geotechnology’s Memphis USACE-validated Soils Laboratory. Geotechnology has increased staffing and equipment inventory in the lab so that needs are met on a timely basis.
Geotechnology is in regular communication with the Corps to ensure the best possible collaboration. The company’s drill crews work under a set of Corps specifications as they travel to different locations and obtain various types of samples. Corps staff members regularly visit the Memphis lab to physically examine samples and review boring logs. They regularly visit Geotechnology field crews to coordinate on-going and future work, while observing compliance with Corps drilling and sampling specifications.
During 2018, the vast majority of Geotechnology’s work has been south of the city of Memphis — in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. These larger assignments have generally been seepage studies for multiple miles of levees along both banks of the Mississippi River. The seepage studies require a large number of continuously sampled shallow borings (typically 30 feet) along both the land side and river side toe of the existing levee. Deeper, tertiary borings are installed through the levee crest on wider spacing. These borings are drilled and sampled to depths of up to 200 feet using mud rotary techniques.
Some smaller projects have included explorations for the design of new or replacement culverts, gates and floodwall improvements. Evaluation of acreage for use as borrow pits for new construction is also required on projects. Some of these smaller assignments were remote and logistically challenging, such as having to drive drilling equipment for 60 minutes on gravel roads before operating them in unusual surroundings.
Many of the levees are adjacent to farm fields and pastures. On one project, staff may have to shut down and leave site to let the crop dusters spray the adjacent farm fields, and on another site, the cattle might be eating boring stakes. Depending on the project, Geotechnology could be drilling on hard level ground or could be maneuvering drill rigs across muddy fields or up steep slopes.
It is gratifying to know that Geotechnology’s services are tangibly contributing to the design and construction of projects that will strengthen the nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters.
Established more than 30 years ago, Geotechnology Inc. offers a range of consulting services in applied earth and environmental sciences, including geophysics, water resource management, geotechnical and environmental engineering, materials testing and drilling. Geotechnology has provided expertise on thousands of major construction projects in the Midwest and mid-South regions. The company is ranked No. 406 in ENR’s Top 500 Design Firms in 2018. Geotechnology is based in St. Louis and has 10 offices in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.