What do environmental engineers do?

May 11, 2015

by P&N Environmental Engineer Barbara Marczak, PE

I hear this question often. What is an environmental engineer? What does one do? What does a typical day look like?

Environmental engineering focuses on cleaning water and air, and protecting habitat and ecosystems. At Prein&Newhof, our environmental engineers design water and wastewater treatment systems, wells and intakes that supply drinking water, pumping and transmission systems to move water from one place to another, and groundwater clean-up. They study watersheds and use computerized modeling to study and improve water flow and drainage; and investigate soils and water for contamination. See some examples.

Typical Environmental Engineer Projects

Typical projects include drinking water treatment plant and clean water plant design; upgrades to drinking water, sanitary sewer or storm sewer transmission lines; landfill design and closure (how to seal off a landfill and what to do with the land afterwards); underground storage tank removals (think gas stations), and testing for regulatory compliance and State permits.

Environmental engineers do Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), to determine if an area is contaminated. Prospective property buyers request ESAs to avoid acquiring unexpected responsibility for pollution problems with huge clean-up fees.

Typical Environmental Engineer Clients

Your clients may include state and local governments, attorneys, developers, lending institutions, and realtors.  A typical day involves fieldwork, report writing, meetings with clients or your team, drawing plans, and research. You will need excellent communication skills. Your expertise in solving problems can be difficult to explain to clients. Sometimes your client will have considerable stress over the issue you they hired you to resolve, as often they stand to lose a lot of money or opportunity.

Is the work rewarding? Definitely. Improving the environment helps everybody by protecting our natural resources.


Recent

View More

State of Michigan offering $100,000 Sewer, Water, and Road Grants

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering grants up to $100,000 to help qualifying rural communities fund local sewer, water, and road projects. The application deadline is January 16, 2018. Last year’s recipient projects include: City of Munising, M–28 to Foster Street Project, $150,000 Houghton County, Houghton County Airpark Sewer System, […]

Learn More >

City of Montague Takes Action to Save Local Road

As Dowling Street leaves downtown Montague, it climbs a steep hill. The hill’s foundation is mostly sand, and an old retaining wall and vegetation rooted on its side slope kept it from sliding away. Over the last several years, the hill’s side slope eroded and slumped, threatening to take the sidewalk and part of the […]

Learn More >

Walker Pedestrian Tunnel at M-45 wins ITE Award

Congratulations to the City of Walker and our P&N project team on the success of the Fred Meijer Standale Trail Pedestrian Tunnel at M–45 project. The project won the 2017 Transportation Achievement Award from the Michigan Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). This award recognizes excellence in the advancement of transportation to meet human needs. The […]

Learn More >

Prein&Newhof chosen for PSMJ 2017 Circle of Excellence

Prein&Newhof is pleased to announce that PSMJ Resources, Inc. selected our company as a 2017 Circle of Excellence member. This is our fourth consecutive year receiving this recognition. PSMJ Resources, Inc. is a leading management consulting firm for the architecture and engineering industries. Each year it conducts a financial performance benchmark survey of firms, recognizing the top […]

Learn More >