Washington, DC District Department of Energy and Environment

Underground & Piped Stream Mapping

Straughan is working on a unique grant funded project for DOEE to map historic streams and identify potential buried streams as candidates for restoration.


Our Approach

Straughan was selected for a competitive grant by the District Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) to map historic streams and identify potential buried streams as suitable candidates. GIS was essential to every aspect of this project. A historic stream network was delineated through the georeferencing and digitization of historic mapping selected for surface streams. GIS input layers were used in conjunction with Python scripting to calculate local regression equations to determine base and storm flows at each of the more than 500 MS4 outfalls throughout the district. These flow rates were just one of several weighted inputs that went into a GIS-based suitability model built from Python to determine the top-rated sites for daylighting. These sites were field validated using a robust methodology combining both the Collector and Survey123 for ArcGIS applications. Finally, the story of this project and the history of stream burial in the District was highlighted through an ArcGIS StoryMap.

Straughan’s use of GIS technologies throughout this project provided a variety of efficiencies and benefits for DOEE. Using Python scripting for complicated equations and analyses means that input variables can easily be changed per client specifications and the entire process can be rerun automatically, saving hours of time. The use of Survey123 in field validation allows for the creation of custom report templates to store fieldwork results. Results can be exported directly into the template without the need for manual entry. Finally, the use of StoryMaps allowed us to seamlessly weave together a detailed and interactive story of the project, complete with pictures, map tours, and external links for users. Should DOEE move forward with any of the proposed daylighting sites, the StoryMap will be valuable in garnering public support and answering questions about how daylighting may work.

Check out the final StoryMap:
›› Uncovering the History of the District’s Buried Streams

We made the news! See our feature from August 16, 2021 in WAMU 88.5’s DCist:
›› 70% Of D.C.’s Streams Have Disappeared. Where Did They Go

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Straughan was the recipient of one of two 2021-2022 ACEC Metropolitan Washington Engineering Excellence Grand Awards in the non-design category for the “Uncovering the History of DC’s Buried Streams” project!

In the world of engineering, it is rare to have a project that allows for us to better understand our past while designing for the future. With this project, we were able to put that opportunity into practice. From 2020-2021, Straughan completed a grant-funded effort to provide the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) with a way to better understand streams that have been lost and develop future plans for returning buried streams to the surface. This project includes three key elements: historic research, engineering analysis to identify suitable restoration sites, and development of an interactive multi-faceted outreach tool.

Learn more about the award winners here.

By The Numbers

The Results

Sites field-validated
Potential sites evaluated using GIS suitability model
Sites selected for engineering design

Now, about your next project…

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