Dipali is an infrastructure and drainage engineer and a water resource development specialist.
Dipali, you are a water resource development specialist. Tell us a little bit about what that means and why it is so important to our world today.
Working as a water resource development specialist means being responsible for the appropriate planning, management, and distribution of available water resources with minimum possible impact on the natural ecosystem and, at the same time, being responsible for the protection of urban/rural developments against possible risk of flooding.
Water resource development is one of the most significant and vital areas, and it needs to be handled and tackled with great attention, care, and responsibility, noting the fact that, globally, available sources of water are being exploited at very fast rates to cater to the needs of exponentially increasing populations and industrialisation. With that said, there are a number of areas that need special attention.
- Extreme storm events have become more frequent, an increase that is linked to climate change. Also, the surface area of existing water basins/river beds is being reduced day by day, due to encroachments in many parts of the world. Such a phenomenon significantly increases the risk of flooding in developed areas.
- The quality and quantity of available water resources needs to be preserved and improved to create a healthy and prosperous future for everyone. Yet, natural water bodies are being contaminated due to the disposal of domestic and industrial waste water without treatment.
- The problems of global sea water rise and groundwater depletion also need to be addressed while planning developments.
These issues show that the proper planning and management of the available water resources remains essential for the sake of our planet and for mankind.
What types of projects have you undertaken at Dar? What does a normal day look like for you? And what part of your job do you feel has the greatest impact?
I am mainly involved with the projects that require planning and designing flood protection/flood diversion measures for large-scale urban developments, rural highways, urban roads, and bridges. These measures are designed to use sustainable practices to protect from runoff generated by storms.
The normal at-work pace is always busy, mainly with project-related group meetings, meetings with clients and third-party consultants involved on the project, brainstorming sessions with seniors as well as juniors to work out the effective and optimum design solutions, and then working on these agreed solutions to deliver the project/task within the stipulated time limit.
To face and overcome technical as well as resource management related challenges on a day-to-day basis and then working out the positive way out of it without compromising the quality of deliverables by sticking to the stringent deadlines with the support of great colleagues means a lot to me. It fills me with the joy and also the sense of achievement/job satisfaction at the end of day.
What was the most memorable project you worked on for Dar, and why?
The Bid Bid Sur Road Project (a 115-km rural highway) in Oman is the most memorable project that I have worked on so far in Dar.
I have learned a lot through this project as it presented many challenges mainly due to the terrain. I got the chance to work closely with the department director, which opened many new horizons in terms of innovative ideas and solutions to tackle site-related issues/difficulties.
I also got an opportunity to visit the project site a couple of times, which gave me better clarity about the massive scale of the project and the practical issues that arise during the construction activities, and to propose solutions.
I greatly developed as a water resources/drainage engineer while working on this project.
Tell us about a significant engineering challenge that you faced and resolved or about an experience that truly impacted you.
On one project, the contractor had proposed a large amount of fill at the culvert inlet as well as a cascading channel at the outlet in order to limit the outlet velocities resulting due to a very steep culvert slope as an outcome of the area’s existing topography. A 3D model of the proposed solution was developed using computational fluid dynamics, and the proposed cascading channel was not found to be effective neither in containing the flow nor in significantly reducing the resulting velocities which would inevitability lead to the erosion of the culvert downstream and eventually the structure itself.
We visited the site in order to check for any other potential solution and noticed that the culvert outlet could be further extended as a concrete lined channel along the mountain on the other side for a few metres and then it could be discharged on the existing terrain which had a presence of sound rock. No cascading or any other arraignment for energy dissipation was required at the culvert downstream due to the presence of strong rock.
The proposed solution was hydraulically and economically efficient and sound from a constructability perspective.
The complicated problems have easy solutions. Dealing with design issues requires coming up with fresh and out-of-the-box ideas rather than always sticking to the standard practices. The site visits also help a lot in order to understand the scale and magnitude of the problem as well checking the solutions for the same.
And finally, what are the trends in the water sector that you believe are making a positive difference? What are the horizons in the sector that you are most excited about?
Use of sustainable practices such as rain water harvesting and reuse of treated sewage effluent for irrigation practices, use of mathematical models to predict flooding in large watersheds/basins, and the use of state-of-the-art techniques to model and analyse existing as well as proposed water supply, wastewater, and stormwater drainage systems – these are the trends that are facilitating and enhancing optimised and efficient water resources practices. Use of satellite data for terrain, rainfall, and one- and two-dimensional river modelling techniques are also areas that I am excited about.