Civil/Structural Engineering, Vashon, Washington, USA 206-463-5311
Ellisport Engineering Blog
An Engineer's Role in a Landslide Mitigation

In the northwest, we've had to endure a particularly wet winter/spring.  This year, has been one of the worst years for landslides in quite a while, mainly due to the heavy rains and saturated soil conditions.  If your slope is showing some signs of movement, it's often better to take preventative action to mitigate further movement, rather than wait until the slide occurs.  Often a landslide will do much damage and is more difficult and expensive to repair. We are civil/structural engineers, and while we have a strong background in soils engineering, we are not geotechnical engineers.  It may be necessary to hire a geotech, and typically, the landslide repairs proceed like this:

1) A geotech engineer is hired to research the geology of the site, determine the landslide causes and provide conceptual recommendations for repairing or mitigating the landslide risks.  The geotech produces a report summarizing his findings; the report may include maps and conceptual sketches.

2) A civil/structural engineer is hired to review the geotech's recommendations and design the appropriate structures to mitigate the landslide risks.  The engineer produces structural calculations, permit and construction drawings, and coordinates with the homeowner, geotechnical engineer, permitting agency, and contractor.  If there is an insurance or FEMA claim, the engineer may provide a report to the insurance company and/or FEMA.

3) A contractor specializing in steep slope landslide repair work is hired to construct the structural engineer's permitted design.  Often, the geotech and/or the structural engineer will periodically observe the construction, to ensure compliance with the permitted drawings.  it is likely that the permitting agency will require both engineers to sign-off on the construction installation.  Note that this work may include installing pipes to collect and drain water from the slope, as well as mulching and plantings on the exposed soils.

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