Conservation and development snapshots, part 2

Data by Morrissey Goodale on important recent updates on the conservation and development market

By Morrissey Goodale August 14, 2023
Courtesy: Brett Sayles, CFE Media and Technology

Last week’s post featured overview, size, and outlook information about the conservation and development market for engineering and construction. This week covers drivers, trends and hot spots.


  • Industrial, agricultural and population water usage

  • Frequency of extreme weather events

  • Inland river navigation trade

  • Private and public infrastructure investment.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was allocated more than $17 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and is prioritizing projects for dams, levees, pump stations, canals, and ecosystem restoration. Since conservation and development work crosses multiple disciplines, it may be common to see designs awarded to joint ventures, depending on the project size and scope.

Hydropower accounts for about a third of renewable energy sources and about 6% of total U.S. electricity generation. The concept of restoration hydro, recently featured by the National Hydropower Association and spearheaded by Natel Energy, combines techniques from river restoration with fish-safe turbines to improve watershed and ecological function.

A recent shoreline protection and restoration project in Florida featured in ENR showcases wave attenuation devices, which is an alternative method for the construction of breakwaters. While WADs have been used throughout the U.S. over the last 20 years, this is the first time it is deployed by a government agency, specifically the Florida Department of Transportation. WADs create reefs, replenish shorelines and reduce wave impacts by at least 70%. Concerns about rising sea levels, among other factors, influenced the decision to forego traditional breakwater building methods for this particular project.

With the increase in frequency of extreme weather events (e.g., precipitation, heat/drought, and wind), the private sector and government agencies are investing in technology to more efficiently adapt their physical and planned assets to withstand damages.

According to McKinsey, climate tech equity transactions almost tripled globally in 2022 compared to 2019. Technologies such as 3D modeling, drones, artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital twins will continue to be leveraged for designs, asset management and regulatory compliance efforts.

Hot Spots

Dams and levees: Combined, these structures need $115 billion in investments for upgrades (Source: American Society of Civil Engineers).

The following states have fewer than the national average number of full-time safety employees per dam: Nevada, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, West Virginia, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Hurricane and storm damage risk reduction projects in coastal states such as Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.