Storm Water Training

Learn from California’s top SWPPP consultant and designer, Beth Smiley, CPESC, CPSWQ, QSP, QSD, Trainer of Record.


Thunder Mountain Enterprises, Inc. offers regular QSP/QSD training courses for Stormwater Permit Compliance.

Trainings feature industry leaders with technical expertise for understanding the law, proper BMP selection and installation as well as new products and post-construction BMPs, calculations, and design.

With extensive hands on experience managing Storm Water Compliance on California’s most difficult construction sites, Beth & industry professionals will lead you through this course, prepare you for the exam and success in the field.

For more information on upcoming trainings and to reserve spaces, please call us at 916.381.3400.

Upcoming Trainings

When Hydroseeding Isn’t Enough: Stabilizing Steep Slopes & Landslide Prone Terrain

Lake County Slide

Although hydroseeding can often be an effective treatment for surficial slope instabilities, steep slopes and landslide prone terrain call for an altogether different approach.

The first step in analyzing a particular site is to determine the primary source of instability. Most frequently this can be attributed to high soil saturation and poor drainage. When combined with weak soils, joints or fissures in the slope material, contrasting material permeability, and steep slopes, the result is often catastrophic.

California Landslide Susceptibility map

Estimated landslide susceptibility based on rock strength and slope steepness. Areas along the coast are among the most susceptible to deep landsliding. [California Geological Survey/USGS, 2011]

Trigger Events

In many cases, landslides occur immediately following a trigger event. Common triggers include prolonged, intense rainfall, accelerated snow melt, or seismic activity. In addition to the trigger event(s), a combination of natural and human contributions are almost always involved…

Natural contributions may include:

  • Joints and fissures within slope material
  • Rainfall
  • Contrasts in materials including permeability and stiffness
  • Earthquakes
  • Erosion (glacial, fluvial, wave)
  • Freeze-thaw cycles
  • Tectonic and volcanic activity

Human contributions may include:

  • Excavation
  • Vibration
  • Deforestation
  • Water leakage
  • Mining

Developing a Solution

Once the primary sources of instability have been identified and the soil properties analyzed, a mitigation plan can be developed for each area of concern:

  • Surface and ground water drainage
  • Failure planes/zones
  • Soil mass support
  • Rockfall hazard
  • Vegetative establishment

Common mitigation techniques include percussion driven earth anchors, structural repair with compacted soil lifts, surface and subsurface drains, soil nails, gabions, and gravity systems. Effectively integrating these methods is the key to long-term slope stability.

georgetown_gabions7c5f15 hwy_1_soil_nails hwy_26_earth_anchors trinity_co_slide45e67d

Logo_FINAL_2012_smallThunder Mountain Enterprises offers design-build services for slope stabilization and landslide repair. For more information, please call 916.381.3400

TME Conducts Training for Caltrans Engineers

Caltrans Engineer TrainingFebruary 20, 2013. TME is partnering with URS Corp to conduct a series of statewide training courses for Caltrans. Each two-day course begins with an overview of water pollution control requirements and responsibilities, and ends with a hands-on field demonstration.

The field demo allows Resident Engineers and other Caltrans staff to see first-hand how BMPs such as hydro-mulch, DI protection, fiber rolls, silt fence, and check dams are properly implemented. Participants get to try their hand at straw mulching and hydro-seeding, among other activities.

TME’s reputation as California’s foremost Storm Water authority was key in its selection for the job. The courses, which are part of Caltrans’ Resident Engineer Certificate Program, will be taking place throughout the months of January, February, and March 2013.

What is a Conical Frustum?


What is a Conical Frustum?

Diagram of a Frustum Cone

A conical frustum is an essential part of earth anchor mechanics. A basic definition of a “conical frustum” is a cone with the top sliced off.

After an earth anchor is driven to depth, tension is applied to “lock” it in place. The locking process turns the anchor 90 degrees into a horizontal orientation, and creates a frustum of compacted soil above it. This frustum is proportionally much larger than the anchor, giving the anchor its full load bearing capacity.


Photo of Earth Anchors

In some cases, the shear strength of the soil is exceeded during tensioning, causing it to fail. The solution to such failure may be using a larger anchor, which increases the volume of the frustum and thus its bearing capacity.



Click to view photos of completed Earth Anchoring projects


Common Slope & Landslide Repair Terms and Definitions

  • conventional: slope repair methods including construction of retaining walls, slope excavation and reconstruction, and rip rap placement
  • deadman: buried object (typically concrete with reinforcing steel) used as an anchor
  • failure plane: the surface between two layers of soil where mechanical failure occurs
  • gabion: steel wire basket filled with rock or concrete; used in slope stabilization, channel linings, revetments, and other earth retention applications
  • geocell: honeycomb-like structure made of HDPE and filled with soil, rock, or other materials; used in slope and road base stabilization
  • gravity wall: retaining wall typically constructed of stone or concrete, which relies on its mass (“gravity”) to resist the pressure bearing on it
  • GRS: geosynthetic reinforced soil
  • MSE: mechanically stabilized earth
  • percussion anchor: earth anchoring device driven and load-locked into place; forms a frustum cone of compressed soil above anchor
  • rotational failure: slope failure occurring on a circular (concave upward) slip surface
  • RSP: rock slope protection
  • sheet pile: thin, interlocking steel panels driven into the ground to form retaining walls and cofferdams
  • shotcrete: pneumatically applied concrete, typically sprayed on reinforcing mesh to form a sculpted wall facing
  • soil friction angle: shear strength parameter of soil
  • soil nail: reinforcing element such as rebar or a hollow bar drilled and grouted into place; used (often in conjunction with shotcrete facing) in slope stabilization, oversteepened embankments
  • soldier pile: wide flange “H” steel piles driven at intervals along a planned excavation perimeter; used in conjunction with lagging to create retaining walls
  • tie back: wire, rod, or helical anchor used to secure retaining walls
  • uniaxial geogrid: grid-like structure made of HDPE, commonly used in slope reinforcement and retaining wall applications (as opposed to biaxial or triaxial geogrid, commonly used for base reinforcement)

Maintaining Pond Health

Maintaining Pond Health

Keeping a pond healthy is not an easy task. The overall health of a pond depends on dozens of factors, including water temperature, pH, nutrient levels, oxygen, and ecological balance, to name a few. When one of these factors is out of balance, the whole pond suffers.

Starting off with the right design is key in determining the ultimate success of a pond. Steep, benched (stepped) sides help regulate water temperature and provide a place for plants to grow. Trees near the pond lend shade, but may also drop their leaves into the water. Location is important – a pond in the bottom of a valley will collect run-off and whatever chemicals or excess nutrients that may contain.

Wildlife provide another challenge. Ducks can introduce water weeds and will fill ponds up with muck. Racoons and other predators can decimate fish, frog, and turtle populations. It’s best to discourage these creatures from taking up residence in or near a pond.

Another important consideration is maintaining a healthy oxygen level. Usually this is accomplished by aerating the pond with a water fountain, waterfall, or aeration device.

Elements of a Healthy Pond Ecosystem

Healthy pond ecosystems help conserve water, reduce carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, provide enjoyment and raise property value.

Three living groups form the basis of every ecosystem: producers (autotrophs), consumers (heterotrophs), and decomposers (saprotrophs). Producers include phytoplankton, plants (such as algae), bacteria and protozoa. These organisms convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into organic compounds that consumers can utilize. Consumers, which include zooplankton, insects, worms, snails, amphibians and fish, survive by feeding on consumers and the nutrients they produce. Bacteria and fungi form the third and final link of the cycle, recycling waste produced by consumers into components that producers can use.

Habitat (a combination of many physical factors and conditions) determines the success or failure of an ecosystem. A properly constructed pond will include habitat features designed to encourage a healthy ecosystem. The result is a lower maintenance, more natural pond.

At Thunder Mountain we apply our environmental expertise and industrial liner know-how to every pond or liner that we design and install. Whether you are looking for a three acre industrial wastewater pond or a 1,000 square foot ranch pond, a Thunder Mountain expert can help.

Call for a free consultation: 916.381.3400

Camille Creek Bank Stabilization

Erosion below the end of a box culvert led to unstable bank conditions and had drastically degraded a creek bed in Napa County. Thunder Mountain’s skilled artisans constructed an engineered solution designed to mitigate scour, restore vegetated banks and support aquatic life.

Because the only access to the sensitive creek area was from a bridge above the box culvert, operators had to carefully lower excavation equipment into the creek each day using a Cat 320.

Under the oversight of a biologist, workers hand placed native boulders as large as 2 tons to create a series of scour pools and grade control structures. A grouted rock structure was constructed immediately downstream of the box culvert. The creek banks were regraded and armored with riprap from the toe of the bank up approximately 30′. Live willow stakes were harvested downstream and placed throughout the riprap area. The tops of the banks were revegetated with a native plant seed mix and alder dee-pot plugs.