Engineering & Laboratory Services Division (8500)

Division Chief:  Janet White (jwhite@usbr.gov; 303-445-2373)

The Engineering & Laboratory Services Division has approximately 73 staff that provide integrated technical expertise within the following laboratories: 1) Concrete & Structural Laboratory, 2) Materials & Corrosion Laboratory, 3) Geotechnical Laboratory & Field Support, and 4) Hydraulic Investigations & Laboratory Services.

Concrete & Structural Laboratory (8530)

Group Manager:  Katie Bartojay, P.E. FACI (kbartojay@usbr.gov; 303-445-2374)

The Concrete & Structural Laboratory provides specialized expertise on engineering materials used to build Reclamation facilities, with an emphasis on concrete materials. This group houses world-renowned laboratory testing facilities, as well as supports extensive field testing and repair capabilities.

Services and Equipment

  • Concrete Technology – Expertise in troubleshooting construction problems, specification preparation and review, material submittal approvals, on-site inspection, batch plant inspection, expertise in state-of-the-art construction materials and practices, research on material problems, and training. These include staff to inspect and evaluate concrete structures for different concrete degradation mechanisms.
  • Concrete Repair – Guidance and technical advice in failure analysis, condition assessment, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, and preservation of concrete infrastructure. Concrete repair expertise includes evaluation and repair designs from appraisal level to final design, including material selection, drawings and specifications, concrete coring and testing, as well as full on-site concrete repair and chemical and cement grouting applications.
  • Structural Testing – Full-size or scaled testing of building components, substructure, or models in both static and dynamic conditions, including design and fabrication of unique and specialized testing apparatus.
  • Equipment and Capabilities:
    • Petrographic Analysis
    • 5-million Pound Universal Testing Machine (compression and tension)
    • Concrete Mix Laboratory
    • Dynamic Testing Laboratory
    • Vibration Laboratory
    • Aggregate and RiprapTesting
    • Freezing/Thawing Testing
    • Thermal Properties Laboratory
    • Environmental Testing Chambers (-10 to 180 °F)
    • Relative Humidity Rooms 50%, 70% and 100% (Fog Room)

Materials & Corrosion Laboratory (8540)

Group Manager:  Jessica Torrey, Ph.D., P.E. (jtorrey@usbr.gov; 303-445-2376)

The Materials & Corrosion Laboratory offers expertise in engineering materials selection with an emphasis on corrosion control. The group inspects, designs, specifies, and field tests corrosion mitigation systems including protective coatings and cathodic protection. They have competency in non-metallic materials, such as composites and geosynthetics, and environmental compliance and management. The laboratory houses extensive testing capabilities for assessing the interaction of a material with its service environment.

services and equipment

  • Protective Coatings - Provide expert knowledge in coatings and paints for all service conditions. The team writes specifications, reviews submittals, and provides construction support for coatings systems. Personnel are experienced coatings applicators and inspectors, perform in-house and field surface preparation, and coating or coating repairs. They have a complete coatings evaluation laboratory that includes equipment to evaluate weathering, cathodic disbondment, coatings service life, abrasion, adhesion, and mechanical properties.
  • Corrosion and Cathodic Protection – Specialize in design, specification, testing, troubleshooting, and repair of cathodic protection systems for structures such as pipelines, tanks, gates, and other buried or submerged metals. The team has extensive experience in corrosion-related inspections and can assist clients in small-scale cathodic protection system installation. The team has applied research facilities for assessment of new materials, corrosion mitigation methods, and corrosion and degradation issues related to Reclamation infrastructure materials in a variety of environments. They can also perform failure analysis of metallic and non-metallic components.
  • Polymeric Materials – Provide technical expertise related to the use of geosynthetic and polymeric materials for application such as sealants, waterstops, roofing, gaskets, and plastic pipe. Services offered include inspections and specification preparation. They also conduct applied research to evaluate new, improved, or conventional polymeric materials to effect more economical construction, maintenance, new repair, and design approaches.
  • Composite Materials – Assisting clients in researching, selecting, and specifying composite materials for infrastructure projects. Laboratory testing capabilities for mechanical and environmental evaluation of composites.
  • Environmental Compliance and Management - Provide technical and regulatory expertise as required by Reclamation Directives and Standards for compliance with federal, state and local environmental regulations. Services include managing and coordinating environmental management systems, environmental compliance audit programs, hazardous materials, hazardous and solid waste generation during facility modernization projects, chemical inventories, spill prevention control and countermeasure plans, waste minimization and pollution prevention, environmental release of hazardous materials, national pollutant discharge elimination system permits, Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments (property transfers), and environmental assessments/environmental impact statements as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Geotechnical Laboratory & Field Support (8550)

Group Manager:  Robert Rinehart, Ph.D. P.E. (rrinehart@usbr.gov; 303-445-2395)

The Geotechnical Laboratory & Field Support staff provide specialized expertise on engineering materials used to build Reclamation facilities, with an emphasis on geotechnical materials. This group houses world-renowned laboratory testing facilities, as well as furnishes extensive field testing, research capabilities, and construction support.

Services and Equipment

  • Geotechnical Investigations and Site Characterization – Includes a variety of services related to the soil and rock materials used for Reclamation structures. These include both laboratory and field investigations of the engineering properties of soil and rock, including in-situ soil and rock testing, as well as groundwater investigations and dewatering/unwatering systems design. Specialized equipment and capabilities include advanced soil and rock shear testing, internal erosion testing, filter material cementation testing, and rock-concrete interface testing. They also offer expertise in geological petrography, providing assistance in evaluating materials and in solving problems related to design, construction, and research.
  • Geotechnical Research – Specializes in applied research problems to advance the state-of-the-art as it relates to Reclamation's mission. Examples of past projects include developing new test methods for cementation potential of filter sand, commissioning of an internal erosion permeameter, modeling unlined spillway scour, studying the influence of varying boundary conditions for rock and concrete direct shear testing, and improving in-situ testing methods.
  • Equipment and Capabilities:
    • Soils physical properties and compaction laboratory
    • Concrete and Rock Direct Shear Machines (50 kip and 300 kip shear capacity)
    • Cyclic Triaxial and Cyclic Direct Simple Shear soils testing
    • Rock Triaxial Shear testing
    • Soil triaxial testing with Ko-consolidation to develop SHANSEP parameters
    • Field Cone Penetration Testing
    • Field SPT energy measurements
    • Hydrogeologic field testing
    • Large-scale field density testing
    • Field vane shear testing

Hydraulic Investigations & Laboratory Services (8560)

Group Manager:  Connie Svoboda, P.E. (csvoboda@usbr.gov; 303-445-2152)

Hydraulics Laboratory Services and Equipment

The Hydraulic Investigations & Laboratory Services staff apply hydraulic modeling, analysis, and field-testing expertise to solve a variety of water resources, hydraulics, and fluid mechanics problems.  The work is focused on ensuring the safety of Reclamation dams; managing and conserving water resources; constructing, operating, and maintaining essential infrastructure; and protecting and restoring the environment.  Specific work areas include:

  • Hydraulic Structures & Equipment – Stilling basins, pumps and turbines, generators, gates and valves, canal structures, and intakes and diversions
  • Dam Safety – High-capacity spillways (labyrinth weirs, fuse plug embankments), dam overtopping protection, spillway erosion modeling, dam foundation erosion modeling, embankment breach modeling, and emergency gate closure testing
  • Environmental Hydraulics – Fish protection and passage, fish screening, reservoir selective withdrawal, design support and field evaluations, river restoration, habitat model verification data collection, reservoir density current measurements, acoustic imaging, total dissolved gas abatement, river sediment flushing, dam removal, and reservoir and river sedimentation related to hydraulic structures
  • Water Conservation – Canal automation and operations, water measurement technology and field evaluations, remote flow monitoring and control systems, software tools for design and calibration of water measurement structures (flumes, weirs, gates, etc.), and water management training workshops

Ecological Research Laboratory SERVICES AND EQUIPMENT

The Ecological Research Laboratory uses technologies to detect exotic species in habitats associated with water resources management projects.  Disciplines include chemistry, botany, entomology, water quality, engineering, limnology, and ecology.  Specific services and equipment include:

  • Scanning electron and cross polarized light microscopy
  • PCR gene sequencing
  • Imaging technologies (FlowCAM and VeligerCAM)
Last Updated: 7/13/22