An Approach for Dynamically Linking Erosion and Sediment Control BMPs

Have you ever wanted to automate, or dynamically link, your Erosion and Sediment Control symbology to storm drainage and/or grading design features in AutoCAD® Civil 3D®? By thinking outside the box a little, you will realize that there are quite a few different ways to achieve this. In my experience, I have found that the best approach is to create new label styles that will incorporate specific symbology to these features. 

An added benefit to using this approach is that Civil 3D allows you to assign Pay Items to these Labels using Quantity Takeoff (QTO) Manager as well. In this article, I will go over a couple examples of dynamically linking your Erosion and Sediment Control BMPs within your design.

Gravel Inlet Protection

To avoid massive file sizes and unnecessary downtime, our standard filing practice is to place major design components into separate working files, then data shortcut these components into each file as needed. We set up a separate CAD design model file each for Grading, Drainage, Erosion Control, etc. As we design our storm drainage features in the Drainage model file, we will assign structure styles in that particular file to show up as curb inlets, junction boxes, etc. to depict the structure’s true representation.  We then data reference these drainage components into our Erosion Control model file and configure a new label style to include a Gravel Inlet Protection 3D block.

Figures 1 and 2 show an example of a simple 3D Gravel Inlet Protection block.

Figure 1

Figure 2 

To set up your Civil 3D Structure Label style, you will need to open your Toolspace and go to the Settings tab. Expand the Structure | Label Styles category and create a new Structure Label Style (Figure 3).


Figure 3

In the Label Style Composer dialog box, go to the General tab and change the Orientation Reference to Object.

Figure 4

Next, go to the Layout tab and create a Block Component for your Gravel Inlet Protection block.

Figure 5

After you have the Structure Label Style set up, go to the Annotate ribbon and Add Label. Change your Feature selection to “Pipe Network,” Label Type to “Single Part Plan,” and Structure Label Style to your new “Gravel Inlet Protection” label style

The final product should look similar to Figures 6 and 7.

Figure 6

Figure 7

On a side note, you can easily achieve close to similar results by further utilizing the Structure Styles. Once you have your Storm Pipe Network data referenced into your Erosion Control model file, you can set up a new Structure Style where the Gravel Inlet Protection 3D block will appear at each storm drainage structure location in Plan and Profile views. The only drawback to this approach is if you switch to a 3D view, the actual model of the structure will appear in place of the Gravel Inlet Protection 3D block.

Figure 8

Check Dam

This same concept can be applied to grading objects and feature lines as well. Figures 9 and 10 are a 3D view of a Check Dam block.

Figure 9

Figure 10

In this example, I will outline the process of applying a 3D Check Dam symbol along a diversion ditch centerline at a specified interval. Once your block is configured to match the top and bottom widths and side slopes of your ditch, the next step is to configure a Civil 3D Style that will incorporate the Check Dam block. In almost all cases, diversion ditches are being modeled using feature lines to generate the proposed grading surfaces for each phase of Erosion Control needed for your project.  We want to use Civil 3D’s Feature Line Labels to apply our check dams along the ditch.

To set up your Civil 3D Feature Line Label style, you’ll need to open your Toolspace and go to the Settings tab. Expand the General | Label Styles category and create a new Line and Curve label style separately. In the Label Style Composer dialog box, go to the Layout tab and create a block component for your Check Dam 3D element. See Figures 11 and 12.

Figure 11

Figure 12

After you have them set up, go to the Annotate ribbon and Add Labels. Change the Feature selection to “Line and Curve” and update the Style selections to your new “Check Dam” label styles.

Figure 13

To ensure that you are placing your check dam symbols (labels) at specific intervals, you can use AutoCAD’s Measure command to place points at the required spacing. Once the points are placed, create multiple “Single Segment” labels and adjust the location using grips to be at the same location as the “measured” point.

Theoretically, you can use the same Measure command to place your Check Dam block (instead of points) and it will space it accordingly and locate it vertically as well along your Grading Feature Line. The only downside is that it’s a one-shot deal, so if you modify the Grading Feature Line down the road, the Check Dam symbol will not update its location automatically. You would ultimately have to select all of your symbols, then delete and reinsert.

By using the Label approach, if you modify your diversion ditch centerline in any direction, the Check Dam locations will update automatically, but you will need to re-space your labels as needed. Ultimately, there are benefits and drawbacks to whichever route you choose to go, so you’ll have to make sure that the path you choose obviously has more upside to it.  Either approach will ultimately give a final product looking similar to Figures 14 and 15.

Figure 14

Figure 15

Quantity Take-Off (QTO) Manager

After you have all your Erosion and Sediment Control BMPs laid out, you can assign pay items to the various labels using QTO Manager. Unfortunately, Civil 3D doesn’t allow you to assign pay items to labels during setup or in your template for automatic and dynamic quantification. However, you can assign them after all your labels are in there fairly easily by isolating your labels using groups, selecting structures through the pipe network vista if you go this route, or even using the SELECTSIMILAR command in Civil 3D.

Figure 16

The Label Styles approach of dynamically linking Erosion and Sediment Control BMPs is just one of many that can be applied within Civil 3D. What it all really comes down to is personal preferences and what the final product needs to be. For example, I prefer to go with the Structure and Feature Line Labels approach as the location of the block will always be linked to these components both horizontally and vertically. Furthermore, if I’m already making an effort to set up label styles to be applied to my drainage structures, I might as well do the same for feature lines for consistency purposes.

As we continue to move forward into a complete 3D Dynamic Model world of Civil Design where everything is linked to each other, we can continue to chip away, and toss out, some of those old static 2D ways of drafting and designing.


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