Monthly Archives: October 2019

In one of the weirder things I have accomplished, I got a paper published that was a probabilistic solution to the Drake equation. Fans of astronomy or the Big Bang Theory will recall the discussion.  The equation was proposed by the first director of the SETI program – Frank Drake, in 1960.  The concept was to determine the probability of concurrent, intelligent, communicative life in the galaxy.  It is an age-old question that continues to encourage interest and controversy among the public as well as academics.  Development of explanations for life elsewhere ranges widely, but few mathematical likelihood models have been developed, and those that exist are widely speculative due to the lack of information about space.  However, with the addition of information from Kepler explorations for new solar systems within our galaxy, and calculation of the potential number of stars in the expanse of the universe, data for a useful probabilistic model to determine the likelihood of life beyond Earth is possible.  Predictive Bayesian statistical methods are designed to use limited, uncertain data, to develop results.  The result provides a probability curve of the likelihood of life in the universe that includes both uncertainty and potential variability within the result to provide a means to define the probability of life in the galaxy as well as life within proximity to earth.  That said, the results indicate that the probability we are alone (<1) in the galaxy is significant, while the maximum number of contemporary civilizations might be as few as a thousand.  The problem plaguing SETI however is that the distance to our nearest neighbor likely exceeds the 50 light years of the project’s existence and as a result there is unlikely to be life close by.

This is the link:

Nothing to do with utilities, but ultimately my goal is to use there principles to assess buried infrastructure.  That will take a couple years, and needs some good data.  But a start.



The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission finance and facilities committees recommended the utility commission go ahead with a planned smoke test of the sewer system in the city of Brunswick and part of the county.  The full commission voted in June to set aside $325,000 for the project.

Some bids for the project came in well below that. The finance committee voted unanimously to award a $232,000 contract for the test to the Hollywood, Fla., based Public Utility Management Planning Services.  Burroughs said he was confident PUMPS could perform the test. We are already underway.  Should be a good project and should be done in Early 2020.

That is the word out of Great Britain.  Some folks will recall they had a 15 ton fatberg in the sewer system beneath London Last year.  Someone actually analyzed it and found it was full to the typical constituents that sanitary sewer folks deal with all the time – grease, handi-wipes, baby wipes and feminine hygiene products.  It you look in enough sewers you realize they are full of these items.  one recent system is surveyed had excessive amount of grease – so much so that is has been difficult to clean the lines to televise them.  Grease does not go down the sink. People have to understand this and utilities must educate folks about it.  A second system I surveyed was full of paper – paper towels, baby wipes, handi-wipes and  hygiene products.  Add a little grease and much of the system was sluggish, – but one could see all of the paper/fabric in the sewers.  I goth the opportunity to speak to the City Commission, with the press present and I noted that they needed an immediate public education program.  The utility director confirmed that he was having trouble keeping pumps running with so much paper.  His budget is high to address this issue.  Education matters.  Here is what one local community used.  I thought it was pretty good.  Mailed it to everyone.

what to flush

Here is the link to the article:


I have not done a huge amount to blogging in recent months in part because I have been trying to finish my latest book on Infrastructure management.  The cover:

Infrastructure Final Cover

I got a nice write-up- in the Journal of American Water Works Association (thanks Ken Mercer).  Here is the link if you are an AWWA member:

The book has taken about 18 months to do, and thanks to the students in 3 classes where I taught the subject.  It does take at least three times teaching a class to figure it out.  The book was written for both professionals in the field and for educators.  The book is standalone, but there is separate material for powerpoints, tests and homework if someone wants to teach the class.  FAU proposed a graduate education grant to NSF that would cover the topics.  So maybe we get some traction?

Thanks to all who contributed.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM)’s Bureau of Mitigation-prioritizes flood risk management as a means to protect people and property during flood events.  To accomplish this goal, DEM is laying the foundation for its Watershed Planning Initiative by working on a pilot project with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) College of Engineering and Computer Science.  The multi-disciplinary FAU team is led by Dr. Frederick Bloetscher, Professor and Associate Dean, of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering.

DEM has received funding from FEMA to encourage communities to become a part of their community rating system program.  To help encourage participation, DEM has contracted with the Florida Atlantic University College of Engineering and Computer Science through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) DR-4337-004-P, to create a template for completion of Watershed Master Plans (WMP) throughout the state of Florida over the next year

To start the process, FAU will conduct research to determine where the gaps in watershed data across the state. FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies will collect plans that currently exist and creating a catalog of these plans. They are also creating a best-practices document when it comes to developing watershed management plans.

FAU is also creating a screening tool to identify the areas across the state that are the most susceptible to flooding. This part of the project includes researchers in the Departments of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Urban and Regional Panning and Geosciences.

The next step will be to use the data generated from the screening tool and the gathering of current plans and policies and create a guidance document for others to implement the tool and will create data for others to use in developing their plans. The ultimate goal for the initiative is to develop watershed master plans for the entire state. In doing so, the state hopes these plans will be integrated into floodplain management and Local Mitigation Strategies throughout Florida along with helping those communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The initiative is funded partially by the federal government through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and partially from the State of Florida.  The pilot project is scheduled to conclude in September 2020 and will ultimately produce two prototype watershed master plans for the state of Florida. The entire initiative is projected to take three years and the next step will be to take the pilot program’s results and apply them statewide.

Many of those who have read my blog know that the WWII B17 bomber are special to me.  My Dad flew 25 mission in WWII on one.  He really trusted the plane.  I was contacted a couple years ago by the son of his pilot for most of those mission.  Same story.  The Collings Foundation has been flying one since 1986.  I got to take a ride about 10 of years ago, and have tried to go see the planes every years when they hit Boca Raton’s airport or the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.  Two years ago I was there as they were getting ready to depart.  I got to help them oil up the engines (spinning propellers) before they started the engines.  Very cool.  And I have lots off photos of their plane the 909.

The sad news – it crashed in Connecticut on Oct 2.  I posted a number of stories about it as they were coming in.  Very sad – seven people died, including the pilot and co-pilot and five passengers. onboard.  One crewman and the other 5 passengers were burned when the plane exploded.  Very sad for all involved.  Very sad for all those who have enjoyed the 909 over the years.  Only 9 still fly.  I am fortunate to have been on board the plane over 15 times and took that ride.  I will miss seeing this great piece of history.

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