Brian Murphy Brings Rivers Back to Life
Brian Murphy, Colorado Water Resources Director, has been with Otak for just two years, but his experience and talents spanning from research and design to relationship building, have already sparked a notable impact on our work with rivers across the West.
While he is skilled at both river science and engineering, his passion has shifted more towards science, so much so that he is pursuing his Ph.D. in civil engineering with an emphasis on urban river health. “River science tends to examine the high-level problems as opposed to the ground level project implementation of engineering,” he explains, noting that his work at Otak is predominantly to bring stream systems that have been flowing through degraded or old man-made channels back to a natural state.
For his current and most high-profile work to date, Brian is the project manager for the River Mile South Platte River Restoration project in Denver, overseeing a multi-disciplinary design team for the $80 million river project that is part of an approximately $1 billion redevelopment. Brian was brought in following completion of the planning phase to lead the design phase. He said integrating with the existing design team and learning the intricacies of each review agency has been challenging. Brian’s role is to coordinate the design work with the project sponsor (Revesco) and be the face of the technical team when they meet with the review agencies.
His skill at relationship building was key for this project, and a factor in why Brian was hired by Otak. According to Matt Marshall, Regional Business Development Manager for Otak’s Colorado office, Brian is not just a studied scientist, but he understands how to bring stakeholders together. “Brian is the perfect person to have the role he has on the project. Between his passion for and knowledge of river systems, his relationships with governments, agencies and stakeholders, and his ability to help people navigate complex challenges and work collaboratively to solve them, he’s the man for the job,” Matt said.
Otak’s role is to work closely with the project sponsor, Calibre Engineering (prime consultant), the Greenway Foundation, the City of Denver, and the Mile High Flood District to further enhance the natural environment and water quality of the river. The overall project goal is to restore riparian/wetland habitat and in-channel habitat complexity, reduce flood damages, and add 27 acres of waterside parks and open space to improve public access and recreation opportunities.
“The most exciting part for me is being able to work on a river that I consider my home river. For the better part of 13 years I’ve worked in various parts of the South Platte, along roughly 30 or so miles, so being able to work on it again in a high profile collaborative environment is really exciting and will be the feather in the cap of my career,” Brian said.