What is that smell?

Let’s get into the weeds on the process of quantifying the relative strength of ambient air. Field olfactometry is a reliable method of measurement using a portable olfactometer, informally referred to as a “scentometer.” V&A recently used the Nasal Ranger® Field Olfactometer as part of a wastewater odor control evaluation. The Nasal Ranger “creates a calibrated series of discrete dilutions by mixing the odorous ambient air with odor-free (carbon) filtered air”1. The odor strength is quantified in terms of “Dilution-to-Threshold” (D/T) ratios, a measure of the number of dilutions required until the sample no longer has any detectable odor. Field olfactometers provide a scientific, repeatable method for determining background odor concentrations, investigating odor complaints and documenting the severity of specific events, prioritizing odor sources for detailed analysis, and verifying the assumptions used in odor dispersion modeling.

Field Olfactometer

Field Olfactometer

1 Nasal Ranger® Field Olfactometer Operation Manual, St. Croix Sensory, 2008.

Back to the Future 1978


V&A Mission: To dedicate our expertise to achieve a better world through resilient and sustainable civil infrastructure.

V&A opened its doors 39 years ago in 1978 and our mission has remained the same from our early beginnings. We recently spent some time looking through our archives and found several newspaper articles (see below).  In those days, the newspaper would write about local council meetings and report on projects that were taking place.. Our first office was in Oakland, so many projects were rooted in that area. For example in 1982 we were part of the renovation of the Old Alvarado Hotel, which ultimately became our office. Other projects include the Golden Gate District Project, which included the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District  where we completed a corrosion investigation at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. For the Cross Valley Pipelines project, we were a subconsultant to George S. Nolte and Associates and Ameron at the Tracy Plant  where we performed in-plant inspection services for the production of 78 inch prestressed concrete piping. The manufacturing of the pipes included many special elbows, tees, outlets and special fittings. The coating system for the fittings included both fusion epoxy and cement mortar. The Cross Valley Pipeline Phase II is one of five projects that formed a new water transmission system for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

The Archives brought to mind a host of projects that helped define a young company and improved the community we called home.

Old Alvarado Hotel.png

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Our pledge for World Kindness Day, November 13th


V&A Consulting Engineers is celebrating 39 years working with municipalities and private industry to maintain the life of water, wastewater, and transit systems. We are committed to sustaining our community's infrastructure. World Kindness Day is November 13th, and in celebration of our 39 years, our team is pledging to accomplish 39 (or more) Acts of Kindness before the anniversary. These include individual gestures as well as team efforts. We’ve put together a list of possibilities ranging from running errands for an over-whelmed neighbor to planting a tree or being an encouraging ear for a co-worker. We are all keeping track of our efforts and will share them on November 13th. We’re happy to share our list of suggestions, so just drop us an email if you’d like to join the movement.  

Individual Acts of Kindness (partial list)

1. Send an encouraging email. - Short and sweet can make someone’s day

2. Volunteer to run an errand for a neighbor or relative if they are under-the-weather or over-whelmed.

3. Go to Goodwill and leave a $5 on a shelf in the toy aisle. Some child and mom will be thrilled at the find.

4. Plant a tree. It’s good for our environment and life.

5. If you see your neighbor forgot trash day - wheel out the trash bins.

6. Complain less - Remaining positive in a negative situation makes you a leader.

7. Buy lemonade from a kids lemonade stand. Leave a big tip!

8. Animal shelters always need blankets and towels. If you have any old ones, call and see where to drop them off.

9. Animal shelters also need food and treats - buy a few cans or bag of dog food and drop them off.

10. Make a handmade card and surprise someone with something unexpected.

11. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

12. Make an effort to learn something new about a co-worker.

Group Acts of Kindness

Create opportunities to give acts of kindness in small or large groups. Here are a couple examples. Look for opportunities in your community, walks, runs, drives etc.

1. Hold a Teddy Bear drive. Pick a date to collect. Then donate to a hospital, police station or fire department for children in need.

2. Breast Cancer Month - October

Race for the Cure. https://ww5.komen.org - There are races in San Francisco, San Diego and Houston if interested.

3. Choc Hospital “Walk in the Park” presented by Disneyland. August 26, 2018. https://www.chocwalk.org

The CHOC Walk in the Park presented by the Disneyland® Resort brings the community together for one single goal – to raise funds for health care programs, education and research for Southern California’s kids. With your favorite Disney® characters cheering you on, celebrating children has never been so fun! Fundraising minimum $95/person. There are also specially priced Park tickets - $61. one day, one park or $87 one day, both parks.

4. Toys for Tots - at Christmas. https://www.toysfortots.org Local drives in your area.


Permanent Canal Closures & Pump Stations Project


V&A Consulting Engineers was retained by Stantec to provide corrosion engineering services for the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Permanent Canal Closures & Pump Stations Project located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The project included the design and construction of three pump stations intended to discharge water from the city into Lake Pontchartrain in the event of flooding. A steel bulkhead structure was installed at each pump station to convey water from existing canals to the pump stations; the bulkhead structures consisted of multiple face and drag sheet piles driven to a depth of approximately 80-feet. Due to the corrosive environment at the project locations, cathodic protection (CP) systems were required to mitigate corrosion of the bulkheads.

V&A designed three cathodic protection (CP) systems for each pump station bulkhead; a galvanic anode CP system for the exterior water side of the bulkhead, a galvanic anode CP system for the exterior soil side of the bulkhead, and an impressed current CP system for the interior soil side of the bulkhead. CP system design calculations, details, and specifications were submitted for each CP system. Once the installation of the systems was complete, V&A performed a site visit to each project location to activate, test, and adjust the CP systems to ensure corrosion of the bulkheads was mitigated per NACE International SP-0169 criteria for adequate corrosion control. A report was submitted to present the data collected during the field testing and to provide recommendations for future operations and maintenance of the CP systems.

Water Buffalo's Ride with Purpose Raises $130,000


V&A's President, Debra L. Kaye, PE

Ready to #ridewithpurpose

V&A's President, Debra L. Kaye, PE joined other motorcycle enthusiasts, in the Water Buffalo's Ride with Purpose. All of this fun is in the spirit of raising money and awareness for non-profit organizations that provide for safe drinking water, sanitation services and environmental stewardship to communities in need. V&A was also a sponsor contributing to the overall $130,000 raised for Water for People and AWWA's Community Engineering Corp.

WATER FOR PEOPLE is an international non-profit working across 9 countries to bring safe water and sanitation to 4 million people. It exists to develop high quality drinking water and sanitation services, accessible to all, and sustained by strong communities, businesses, and governments.

Community Engineering Corps is an alliance between AWWA, American Society of Civil Engineers and Engineers Without Borders-USA. The alliance combines the strengths of three organizations to provide technical expertise to underserved communities in the United States and ensure that their infrastructure meets their community's needs. https://www.awwa.org/membership/get-involved/community-engineering-corps.aspx


Cool Water Buffalos jacket

Check out our V&A patch!

UESI Pipelines 2018 Conference

Revitalizing Global Underground Utility Infrastructure
Toronto, Canada | July 15-18, 2018

Join us at the premier conference for buried utility engineering, underground infrastructure management, and surveying practice.

Why Should You Attend?

  • Expand your knowledge base to enhance the success of your projects at this leading industry event for practitioners covering the most current state-of-the-art engineering technologies for pipeline and utilities infrastructure.
  • Take advantage of the international setting to network with your peers, potential clients and project team leads.
  • Earn up to 26 PDHs via thought-provoking interdisciplinary education, inspiring and enlightening keynote speakers, tours, and short courses on topics relevant to pipeline and trenchless technologies in water, wastewater, storm drainage, gas and oil pipeline systems.
  • Connect with exhibitors show-casing over one hundred top products and services in pipelines technologies.
  • Explore the Canadian heritage in Toronto and the larger surrounding area including the breathtaking Niagara Falls, and neighboring cities of Mississauga and Brampton.

Pipelines 2018 is part of the new ASCE Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute (UESI). The conference will continue to provide a forum for pipeline engineers and practitioners from all around the world to share their experiences in meeting the challenges of today's pipeline infrastructure. This premier industry event has become the conference of choice for utility and pipeline owners, design and consulting engineers, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, students, educators, researchers, and pipeline professionals. The conference will also include surveying as it relates to pipeline and utility projects. The Pipelines 2018 Conference will provide a dynamic and inspiring venue for participants to share and gain valuable knowledge related to planning, designing, constructing, renewing, operating, managing and maintaining the lifeline assets.