The American Council of Engineering Companies/Maryland’s (ACEC/MD) annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) competition recognizes engineering firms for projects that demonstrate a high degree of innovation, achievement, and value. In a two-step process, firms can submit their outstanding projects for consideration, culminating in our Annual Awards Banquet being held in association with Engineers Week. See below for more information:


2021 Grand Award

Bloede Dam Removal and Patapsco Interceptor Relocation

Client | American Rivers

Consultant | Inter-Fluve, Inc., KCI Technologies, Inc, Hazen & Sawyer, Kiewit Corporation Firm

Location | Catonsville, MD

Bloede Dam Removal and Patapsco Interceptor Relocation

The 34-foot-high, 220-foot-wide Bloede Dam on Maryland’s Patapsco River was a serious public safety concern. From the 1980s until today, nine people died at the dam and dozens more likely lost their lives since it was first constructed in 1907.

Engineers, scientists and contractors worked with American Rivers, NOAA, Maryland DNR, Baltimore and Howard counties, USFWS, Patapsco Valley State Park staff, and the Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park to develop design plans and complete the removal of the dam. The resulting dam breach and return of this river to its natural, free-flowing state is the culmination of extraordinary cooperation and collaboration between science and engineering, public-private partnerships and all levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to accomplish ambitious conservation and public safety goals. The planning and design work took more than 15 years, while construction was completed in just 18 months. This complex removal and restoration serves as a success story of habitat conservation and is  
model for other states challenged by outdated dams and wastewater infrastructure.

The design and construction team overcame a number of water resource, infrastructure, natural resource, funding, and recreational obstacles. Primary complexities included permitting issues, existing sanitary sewer infrastructure, river flow management, coordination required between the various governmental entities, and unforeseen conditions.

An unprecedented release of 300,000 cubic yards of impounded sediments behind the dam required extensive sediment transport and prediction models and an adaptive management plan. Precise timing of the breach to high water flows was critical, leading the team schedule the blast in September of 2018, as Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the state.

Relocation was required for two sewer mains located upstream of the dam,  adding $16 million to the original estimated cost and creating conflicts with streamside infrastructure and historic structures. An artificial island diverted flow around 20-foot-deep sectional trench shoring, where targeted blasting was required to place the new sanitary lines deep within the bedrock beneath the river channel and subsequent lower water levels.
Engineers and contractors had to overcome flashy river flows and storm-related deluges, including the devastating 2018 Ellicott City flood, that washed away a temporary access bridge and caused extensive damage throughout the site.

Despite these challenges, the project was completed on time, exceeding the performance and technical goals, and within the financial constraints of the project. Today, the area is a natural setting that offers a cascading river environment and recreational opportunities for outdoor lovers in the Baltimore metro area. Kids can safely play in the river, canoes and kayaks meander downstream, and fish freely migrate.

Other Winners

Alvi Associates, Inc.
  • Route 91 Bridge over Laurel Creek | Virginia Department of Transportation
Century Engineering, Inc. and Smart SWM™
  • Smart Stormwater Management – An Intelligent Stormwater Infrastructure Solution
Gannett Fleming, Inc.
  • Herring Run Trail Bank and Stream Restoration | City of Baltimore, Department of Recreation and Parks
Gannett Fleming, Inc. & KCI Technologies, Inc. Joint Venture
  • I-270 / Watkins Mill Road Interchange | Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration
Gannett Fleming Inc. / Mott MacDonald Joint Venture
  • Broad Creek Augmentation Conveyance System | WSSC Water
Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT)
  • Transportation Systems Management & Operations (TSMO) Program
    Support | Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration
KCI Technologies, Inc.
  • VDC Mechanical Room Upgrade | Kennedy Krieger Institute
Rummel, Klepper and Kahl, LLP (RK&K)
  • Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Facility | City of Baltimore
  • William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge All Electronic Tolling (AET)
    Conversion | Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)
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