See Our Past Work WRCS as Expert Hydrologist Witness

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1. Storm Drain Systems Analysis

Case #1: Sioux Falls, South Dakota Flooding

Provided trial testimony on behalf of plaintiffs in class action suit regarding two storm events and citywide flooding. Evaluation of city flood control standards and conformance to FEMA National Flood Insurance Program was conducted. XPSWMM model of entire municipal storm drain system utilized to determine potential causes of flooding. Client: Johnson, Janklow, Abdallah, Bollweg & Parsons LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Case #2: Cumberland, Maryland Flooding

Provided Testimony in Jury Trial on Evaluation of Municipal Storm Drain System Improvements. Established design factors of a storm drain system improvement project which induced greater flooding of downstream residents than would have occurred prior to its completion. Client: Levasseur and Buckel, Cumberland, Maryland.

Case #3: Redding, California Flooding

Testified in a bench trial on the factors involved in flooding that occurred in downtown Redding, The storm’s return frequency, the city storm drain system’s design level of protection, and the impacts of watershed development were all analyzed as they related to the level of flooding experienced at a downtown apartment complex. Client: McNeill Law Offices, Redding, California.

Case #1: San Anselmo Creek New Year’s flood of 2005

Provided testimony on the hydraulic impacts of 17 bridges and channel infringements along San Anselmo and Ross Creeks, in Marin County, California, using a HEC-RAS computer model. The individual and cumulative effects of the structures were quantified for the clients in this class action lawsuit. Client: Bourhis & Mann, San Francisco, California.

Case # 2: Train Trestle Impact on Winery Flooding

Provided jury testimony regarding train trestle’s effect on winery flooding, Napa, California. Developed a HEC-RAS computer model of a series of highway bridges and train trestle to determine their impacts on the debris blockage of a creek and the resulting contribution to flood damages. Law Offices of Margaret M. Farley, San Rafael, California.

Case #3: Bridge and Debris Impact on River Des Peres, Missouri

Provided Deposition Testimony in Two Cases (one Class-Action) Involving Flooding on the River Des Peres, St. Louis County, Missouri. The hydraulic impacts of the accumulation of channel vegetation, and the presence of numerous bridge crossings, was determined by HEC-RAS and XPSWMM computer modeling of the University City Branch of the River des Peres storm drain system (a tributary to the Mississippi River) during the September 2008 flood. Client: Macuga, Liddle & Dubin, P.C., Detroit, Michigan.

2. Hydraulic Analysis - Channel and Riverine Flooding

3. Hydraulic Analysis - Floodplains and Alluvial Fans

Case # 1: Oil Refinery’s Impacts of Blocking Floodwaters on Texas Floodplain

Widespread Flooding Occurred Across Much of Brazoria County, Texas, as a Result of Hurricane Harvey. A major oil refinery’s plant expansion project, south of Houston, had eliminated much of the natural floodplain, however, and actions taken by the refinery to dam themselves off from the ensuing floodwaters during the event significantly increased the levels of flooding experienced throughout the region. Massive and highly complex 2-dimensional hydrology and hydraulics models were developed to evaluate the flood impacts of the refinery’s expansion project and floodproofing actions. Mr. Van Bruggen testified on behalf of hundreds of nearby residents in this class-action suit against the oil and chemical company. Client: Arnold Itkin, LLP, and Walston Bowlin, LLP, Houston, Texas.

Case #2: Impact of Dumping Fill Materials in Mendocino County Floodplain

Expert Witness for Liability of City in Flood Damage Litigation, Broadus Creek, City of Willits, Mendocino County, California. Constructed and presented results of floodplain hydraulic model to determine the effects of the city’s dumping of fill materials onto a floodplain and the resultant diversion of flood flows through client’s property. Client: Law Offices of William Van Dennis, Willits, California.

Case #3: Flash Flood on Alluvial Fan Takes Out Bridge

Hydrologic (HEC-HMS) and Hydraulic (HEC_RAS) Modeling of Alluvial Fan and Wash on Historic Route 66, San Bernardino County, California. A greater than 100-year flash flood event in the Mojave Desert washed out a bridge over a desert wash in the middle of the night. A vehicle traveling on old Route 66 later went over the washed out bridge, causing major injuries to the passengers. Mr. Van Bruggen modeled the flash flood hydrology, based on radar rainfall for the event, and created a hydraulic model of the wash and bridge to determine the flood frequency and bridge flow capacity. Client: CalTrans, Los Angeles District.

Case #4: Alluvial Fan Migration Due to Berm Construction

Thousand Palms, California, a desert residential property was washed out by a monsoonal flash flood in an area that was not previously known for flooding. The long-term hydraulic impacts on streamflow caused by the placement of a sand and dirt berm adjacent on an upstream desert wash channel was evaluated through comparison of flood tracks on historical aerial photos. Client: Law Offices of Aaron Garcia, Rancho Mirage, California.

Case #1: Oroville Dam Spillway Failure and Downstream Flooding of the Feather and Sacramento Rivers

In February of 2017, after a winter season of record setting rainfall in the Sacramento and Feather River basins, Oroville Dam’s main spillway began to crumble while conveying the high outflows from the reservoir. After spillway flows were shut off, and the reservoir was allowed to fill to its crest, the dam’s emergency spillway was engaged, and it failed as well. This triggered the evacuation of the City of Oroville and 188,000 downstream residents. That spring, while the dams’ spillways were being repaired, unusually high outflows from the dam were required to keep the reservoir levels low. These months of high outflows had a disastrous effect on thousands of acres of downstream orchards and farmland. Mr. Van Bruggen testified in the bench trial after conducting a hydrologic and hydraulic analysis of the outflows from the dam that spring, and then compared them to his simulated, numerically modeled, record of what the flows would have been, had it not been for the spillway failures. Client: Cotchett, Pitre &McCarthy, LLP, Burlingame, California.

Case #2: Queensland Flood of 2011 Reservoir Operations 

Forensic Re-creation of Reservoir Operations Undertaken by the State of Queensland during historic flood event; Brisbane, Australia. A back-to-back series of tropical cyclones in January 2011 results in a number of Queensland cities, including Brisbane, going under water, creating the Australian equivalent of the U.S.’s Hurricane Katrina. The flood control operation of two reservoir projects is blamed, and becomes the subject of a number of class-action suits, claiming billions of dollars in damages. Mr. Van Bruggen developed a detailed hydrologic model of alternative reservoir operation scenarios to determine if the dam operator’s non-compliance with the dam operations manuals was a factor. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of thousands of Queenslanders who lost their homes and businesses in the floods, ruling that a “reasonably competent” engineer would have taken more action

Case #3: Reservoirs Operations Impact on Hackensack River Flooding

Testified in class action jury trial regarding the hydraulic impacts of the presence, and operation, of a series of three water supply reservoirs along the Hackensack River, West Nyack, New York. Excel spreadsheet analysis conducted to forensically re-create the reservoir inflow and outflow hydrographs. HEC-RAS computer model used to evaluate impacts and alternatives. Client: Law Offices of Kevin T. Mulhearn, Orangeburg, New York.

Case #4: Hurricane Harvey Reservoir Operations

Flood Operations of Two Army Corps of Engineers Reservoirs During Hurricane Harvey Evaluated for Downstream Impacts in Two Cases; Beaumont, Texas. Gate operations and inflow-outflow hydrographs were analyzed at Sam Rayburn and Town Bluff Reservoirs. Dam releases were hydrologically tracked 100-miles downstream, and over four days travel time, to Beaumont. Flood impacts on residential neighborhoods and Neches Port terminals were evaluated by flood hydrograph separation of the hurricane’s total flood flows coming off of numerous tributaries and watershed areas along the lower Neches River. Client: The Bernsen Law Firm, Beaumont, Texas.

4. Dam and Reservoir Operations

5. Road and Highway Drainage

Case #1: Fatal Vehicle Accident on Flooded Highway

Expert testimony provided in jury trial on whether highway drainage conditions may have led to fatal auto accident, Stockton, California. Highway drainage plans and high resolution laser survey of highway road surface were analyzed in connection with storm event rainfall data, indicating that the roadway had no anomalies or sheet flow conditions that could have created a potential for hydroplaning of the vehicle. No Dangerous Condition of the state highway was found to exist, 12-0, by the jury in the case. Client: CalTrans Legal, San Francisco, California.

Case #2: Fatal Mudslide Occurs on Slope Below Roadway

3-D animation of roadway drainage patterns presented to jury as part of testimony on the cause of a fatal mudslide in Mill Valley, California. The hydrology and hydraulics of how a section of roadway drained throughout a winter season were modeled, and the results graphically illustrated in 3-Dimensional space, as part of a PowerPoint presentation on the contributing factors leading to the mudslide. Client: Law Firm of Bradley, Curley, Asiano, Barrabee & Gale, Larkspur, California.

Case #3: Floodplain Impacts of New State Highway Interchange

Two-Dimensional Hydraulic Modeling, Using the MIKE FLOOD Hydrodynamic Model, to Evaluate the Hydraulic Impacts of State Highway Interchange Project, Rancho Mirage, CA. Caltrans authorized a study to assess the flood risk posed by the completed project when adjacent property owners sued over concerns of increased flooding risks posed by the new interchange. Client: California Department of Transportation, San Diego District.

Case #4: Unsafe Condition of state highway in Santa Cruz County, California

Santa Cruz County jury trial testimony given regarding claim of unsafe condition of state highway in wet weather conditions. Storm event meteorology, storm drainage patterns, highway project plans and CalTrans drainage design criteria were evaluated for hydroplane potential at the site of a head-on crash. Client: Caltrans Legal, Oakland, California.

Case #1:Debris Basin Overtopping Investigation and Debris Flow Hydraulic Analysis

A Southern California storm event resulted in the overtopping of a City debris basin and a disastrous mud flow down city streets. The design of the debris basin, return frequency of the storm event, and hydraulics of the resulting mud flow were investigated. A 2-dimensional hydraulic flow model was developed to determine the impact of a new City bridge on resulting mud flow depths. Client: Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse, LLC, Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

Case #2: Sacramento Valley Levee Failure

Provided Testimony On the Forensics of Sacramento Valley Levee System Failure, R.D. 2107, San Joaquin County, California. Acted as hydraulic and hydrologic engineering expert for Reclamation District responsible for the operation and maintenance of a series of state levees that failed in January of 1997. Historic San Joaquin and Stanislaus River flows were characterized to determine flood flow frequencies and a detailed UNET hydraulic model of the river system was analyzed for the flood event. Client: William L Portello, Law Offices of Guichard, Jones and Tarkoff, Sacramento, California.

Case #3:Hydraulic Modeling of Repeated Creek Channel Overtopping

Trial Testimony Provided for Plaintiffs in Class Action Court Trial, Brookings, South Dakota. Mobile Home Park was flooded by nearby creek after decades of vegetative growth and sediment buildup reduced the channel’s flow capacity. The city had received a number of complaints and maintenance request from residents over the years, and even studied the problem, but never provided any creek maintenance. HEC-RAS hydraulic model of the creek was developed to quantify the flow restrictions caused by the vegetation and silt accumulations. The additional depth of flooding in the Mobile Home Park, attributable to these factors, was quantified for damage calculations. Client: Johnson, Janklow, Abdallah, Bollweg & Parsons LLP, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

6. Channel and Levee Overtopping and Breaches

7. Drowning Hydraulics

Case #1: Child Drowning at Water Delivery Gate

Twelve-Year-Old Boy Drowns When He is Sucked into a Water Delivery Gate in a Water District’s Ditch, Butte County, California. The hydraulics of the water in the district’s earthen channel, and of the zone of accelerated inflow to the delivery gate and culvert, were explained and illustrated for the jury to demonstrate the hidden, and potentially lethal, danger posed by the water supply system turnout and gate structure. Client: The Arnold Law Firm, Sacramento, California.

Case #2: Tidal Analysis of Federal Waterway Where Death Occurred

Federal Report Submitted Regarding the Degree of Exposure of an Obstruction in the Tidally Influenced Waterway, Lathrop, California. A fatal accident occurred when a motorboat hit an exposed section of cofferdam around the pier of a railroad bridge over the San Joaquin River. The historical determination of the river’s tidal cycle phase and flow rate at the time and location of the accident was required to establish the river’s water level and the degree of exposure of the obstacle. Client: Murphy Campbell, et al, Sacramento, California.

Case #3: HydraulicAnalysis and Safety Evaluation of Irrigation Canal:

Evaluation of Drowning Hydraulics and Irrigation/Diversion Canal Public Safety Issues, Mesquite, Nevada. An accidental drowning at a diversion dam and its irrigation/diversion canal works prompted a safety evaluation of public access points, and a hydraulic evaluation of the design and concurrent flow conditions at an irrigation water supply diversion dam and canal system. Provided an Expert’s Rebuttal Report to client, allowing for the granting of a Motion for Summary Judgment by the defendant. Client: Wolfe & Wyman LLP, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hydrology and Hydraulics Expert Witness Services and Water Resources Engineering Consultant

Or call us: (760) 895-4411