Close this search box.


Important Information

Ensuring the safety of our roadways is a top priority for transportation authorities and community leaders alike. To further this objective, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) implements safety improvement programs to address concerns related to high-crash intersections and roads. MDOT allocates significant resources to enhance road safety through various funding programs with a comprehensive plan designed to identify, prioritize, and implement safety improvements across the state’s transportation infrastructure.

What are my options?

The Michigan Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a core Federal-aid program with the goal of achieving a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including those that are non-State-owned or on tribal land. Any agency wishing to submit an improvement project is encouraged to apply for HSIP funds. Examples of these projects could include a horizontal curve delineation, rumble strips, edge line pavement markings, signal backplates, countdown pedestrian signals, or a stop-controlled intersection sign upgrade project. Recently, a bipartisan infrastructure law was implemented to emphasize the importance of vulnerable road user safety as part of the HSIP. This strategic program enables MDOT to allocate resources effectively and prioritize projects that will have the most significant impact on improving safety for all Michigan residents.

The High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) plan allows for an additional funding source, with applicable locations defined as “any roadway functionally classified as a rural major or minor collector or a rural local road with significant safety risks, as defined by a State in accordance with an updated State strategic highway safety plan.” Any rural roadway with an increasing fatality rate may be considered for this funding opportunity, and selected projects are to be obligated in 2026. A non-selected HRRR project will be automatically considered for general 2026 HSIP safety funds.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Does your agency have confusing intersections that often have crashes?
  • Does that blind spot at the intersection hide pedestrians?
  • Are roadway departures common along some of your curves?
  • Do you have a dark roadway that could benefit from better lighting?
  • Are you simply looking to update an older traffic signal layout to the latest standards?

If you are considering any of these improvements, then your community may qualify for safety funding through this grant process. Prein&Newhof is qualified and happy to assist with determining the area of need, applying for funding, and improving the safety of roadways for all users by maximizing this opportunity of available federal funds.

What are my next steps?

These funding opportunities require applications to be prepared in March so that applicable candidates can obtain Letters of Support in time for the submittal deadline at the end of April. Prein&Newhof can assist you by reviewing and assessing whether a particular intersection or road qualifies as a strong candidate for MDOT safety funding. With a focus on vulnerable users, as well as specific locations with high crash rates, we can determine locations that may be approved for funding to address and improve public safety concerns.

Together, we can proactively face these safety challenges by initiating a comprehensive review of your roadways, identifying opportunities for improvement, and positioning your projects for MDOT safety funding!

Call Connie Houk, PE or Scott Tezak, PE at 231-468-3456 to learn more about how these MDOT funding opportunities can benefit your community.

Many of our clients have successfully implemented their parks and recreation projects with the help of 27 different grant programs from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Our most common success stories have utilized the Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Recreation Passport Grant Program, and/or the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For example, the Boardman Lake Trail Loop project (featured above) made use of funding from some of these sources. Each of these funding opportunities has the potential to benefit your community!

So… tell me more!

The Natural Resources Trust Fund obtains finances from the development of state-owned, profitable resources. Applications are accepted from communities seeking to acquire land for the conservation of natural resources, which can include many opportunities from public facilities to trails. Matching funds are typically a requirement, and other deciding factors include financial need and regional significance. Before applying, the community also needs an established five-year recreation plan approved by the MDNR by February 1st. This master plan takes inventory of a community’s assets and rates their accessibility while gathering public input and developing goals, objectives, and a prioritized project plan. This month, the board recommended over 27 million dollars in these acquisition and development grants. The five-year recreation plan has proven to be enormously beneficial to communities in many other ways outside of just funding applications.

The Recreation Passport Grant Program is another excellent opportunity to fund parks and recreation projects. You’ve likely noticed that when you renew your driver’s license each year, you have the option to add the annual “recreation pass” for a low cost. You may know that this checkbox allows you to enter any state park without additional payment, but do you know where that money goes? It goes right back into your community’s recreation facilities. In addition to establishing new amenities, facilities that have been loved and used beyond their “useful life expectancy” are invited to be restored with this grant. Renovated facilities could include kayak launches, splash pads, restrooms, drinking fountains, pickleball and other sport courts, or pavilions. This month, it was announced that nearly $2 million in Recreation Passport grants were awarded for these park and trail improvements and developments. To be eligible for this program, a community must either have an approved five-year recreation plan on file by February 1st or submit a capital improvement plan with their application.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of public land. According to the LWCF Act of 1964, this fund was created to “assist in preserving, developing, and assuring accessibility of all citizens of present and future generations… such quality and quantity of outdoor recreation resources as may be available and are necessary and desirable for individual active participation.” Examples of suitable projects can include land that provides access to water-based recreation opportunities, nature preserves of biological importance, or land within urban areas for day-use parks and recreation. To be eligible for this program, a community must also have an approved five-year recreation plan on file by February 1st and hold a public meeting to receive input on the grant application.

How can I get involved?

The MDNR is committed to providing Michigan residents with the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions, programs, and other aspects of local natural resource management and outdoor recreation opportunities. One important avenue for input is at public meetings such as the Michigan State Parks Advisory Council or the Trails Advisory Council. To see these public meetings and more, you can check the DNR boards, commissions, committees, and councils web page for updates.

The MDNR is also conducting a survey about your experiences at Michigan state parks over the past year. The survey takes about ten minutes to complete and helps with planning future park improvements!

Need assistance with your grant submittals or want to begin preparing a plan for the following year? Call Matt Levandoski, PLA at 616-364-0200.

On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, Prein&Newhof Project Manager Scott Post, PE joined Ottawa County Parks at Connor Bayou Park in Grand Haven to hear Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement: The Governor plans to allocate $150 million of the state’s American Rescue Plan to fund local parks, trails, and recreation facilities. If approved by the legislature later this year, the money will be administered as a grant program by Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Last month, Governor Whitmer announced a similar proposal to invest $250 million of the state’s American Rescue Plan in parks and trails managed by the state. Bringing the total proposed investment in Michigan’s local and state run parks, trails and recreation facilities to $400 million.

The event was held at Connor Bayou Park on the Idema Explorers Trail. Prein&Newhof is currently designing 2.34 miles of the Idema Explorers Trail that will run along Green Street, from 144th Avenue to Connor Bayou Park at North Cedar Drive. This missing piece is known as the Stearns Bayou section of the Idema Explorers Trail.


Post explains the importance of the new trail to the area, “The Stearns Bayou section will finally close the loop between Grand Haven’s trail network and Spring Lake’s trail system—connecting downtown Grand Haven to Spoonville Trail and North Bank Trail.”

The Stearns Bayou project will include 10-ft.-wide paved, non-motorized pathway along Green Street. Plans call to widen the 450-foot-long existing bridge over Stearns Bayou to include a 14-foot-wide bike lane. The current project estimate cost is $3.5 million. As a local agency project, a portion of the project will be funded by the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) Grant. Construction is expected in 2022.

When complete, the 30-mile-long Idema Explorers Trail will connect the Greater Grand Rapids area (Millennium Park) to the Grand Haven/Spring Lake lakeshore area.

By Kimberly Jongsma, Public Outreach and Planning Specialist

Finding a place to park is often an issue in downtowns, especially during events. The first solution most people think of is to add more spaces and lots, but making convenient “free” parking a sole priority can decrease a downtown’s vibrancy. There is such a thing as too much parking (think of Kmart lots). Downtowns are for people, not cars, so keep it on a pedestrian scale. Regulation and communication can keep parking demands in balance. (For a much smaller cost!)

Downtown Parking Policy

Time Limits and High Turnover

Does your “main street” have on-street parking with no time limit? If so, you are encouraging longer stays and discouraging quick errands, or “high turnover.” For those just dropping in for their 15-minute errand or one-hour lunch, not being able to find parking may deter them from going downtown at all. Parking time limits (anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours) encourage higher turnover, which means more people circulating through the downtown businesses. If someone intends to visit your downtown for a long stay, parking off-street or farther away won’t bother them too much. Many people don’t mind walking a block or two, though handicap and other designated spaces are a must for those who need easier access.

This kind of smart regulation can also include reserved spaces for residents and employees of your downtown. Their main concern is having a reliable space within a reasonable distance of their home or work. That’s something you can work with—they’re guaranteed a spot for when they need it (even if it’s off-street).

Update your parking policy so everyone can be happy. It is possible! Here are some on-street parking categories:

  • Handicap designation with ADA accessibility (obviously a must)
  • 15-30 minute multi-use spaces
  • 30-minute parking
  • Two-hour or four-hour parking
  • Expectant Mothers / Small Children Priority Spaces
  • Senior Citizen Priority Spaces
  • Motorcycle spaces
  • Convenient bicycle parking
  • Restricted hours (No overnight parking, only between 8am-6pm, etc.)
  • Permit spaces (for residents, employees, etc)
  • Reserved spaces (for residents, employees, etc)

Signs and pavement symbols make people aware of these policies; local enforcement is the other half of making this work. Parking tickets don’t have to be very expensive to get the message across.

Just a Communication Issue?

Sometimes a parking problem is really a communication problem in disguise. Maybe there is enough parking, but not enough awareness: do the residents know where they can park downtown? Are time limits and costs clear? Are designated spaces marked and labeled?  Uncertainty can cause stress and confusion for visitors. Have plenty of signs saying where parking is allowed, and for how long. A downtown parking map is very helpful for residents and visitors: an easy-to-read map showing what types of parking are available. Make it available online so they can use it in planning their trip. When hosting community events, put instructions and visuals in the flyers/invitations for where to park, or other ways people can get downtown.


Plan parking with your community. Come to an agreement on a set of rules that puts pedestrians first, but makes parking and wayfinding easy. This way, everyone wins.

Have a specific question? Our traffic engineer, planner, landscape architect, and streetscape engineers are ready to help! Call us: 616-364-8491.

By Dana R. Burd, P.E., LEED AP

Does your facility require an Industrial Storm Water Permit? If you have storm water leaving your site, the answer could be ‘yes’. The Michigan DEQ began issuing Industrial Storm Water Permits in 1994. Regulated facilities that have never obtained a permit may qualify for a Consent Order (as described in this 4-page guide) to avoid potential enforcement actions.

How do you know if a storm water permit is needed for your facility? Begin by answering these three questions:

1.  Is the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code for your facility federally regulated?

2.  Does the storm water runoff discharge to surface waters of the state?

3.  Are industrial materials and/or activities exposed to storm water runoff?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to all three of these questions, industrial storm water permit coverage is required. If you are unsure of the answer to any of the questions above, our Certified Industrial Storm Water Operators can help. And, if necessary, we can prepare the required Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP)  and the Notice of Intent and Certificate of Entry (NOI/COE) application forms.

The Michigan DEQ Industrial Program website also provides some good guidance.

By  Barbara E. Marczak, P.E., Prein&Newhof

Last September, I became Chair of the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). With over 50,000 members, including 1,600 in Michigan, AWWA is the nation’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to managing and treating water.

Little did I realize then that one of the biggest public drinking water crises would unfold in Michigan and reach the size it has today.  As I watch the media cover Flint’s water crisis, I’ve been moved by the public’s disbelief, concern, anger, a desire to help, and the emerging efforts to prevent something similar from happening again.

Drinking Water’s History

Looking back over 100 years ago, Americans often died after drinking untreated water. Health professionals hailed modern water treatment technology and distribution systems as the most significant public health advancement of the last century. While safe drinking water has contributed significantly to economic development and prosperity in the United States, there have still been incidences when a water system failure sickened or even killed those using it. In 1993, over 400,000 people in Milwaukee became ill with Cryptosporidiosis. In 2000, over half the 5,000 people in Walkerton, Ontario became sick by drinking water from wells contaminated with E. coli, and in 2002, a change in water treatment in Washington, D.C., led to the release of lead from water service lines.

Water professionals, myself included, learned from these incidents. We found better ways to treat drinking water, adopted more vigilant testing and monitoring protocols, and found better ways to work with public health professionals in tracking potential issues. I’m sure we’ll learn from Flint, too.


In my role as Chair of the Michigan Section AWWA, I am committed to working with our members to offer education and information that will help prevent future incidents. Since September, I have worked hard with other leaders in the Michigan Section to execute the AWWA’s mission to train water professionals while providing networking and learning opportunities. As an example, the Michigan Section AWWA and the Michigan Water Environment Association (MWEA) earlier in February hosted the largest yearly gathering of water professionals and vendors of water treatment and maintenance equipment in Michigan. Besides operator training sessions, water professionals saw the latest technology and equipment in the drinking water and wastewater treatment industry. Through these activities, AWWA and MWEA helps educate engineers and operators responsible for designing, operating and delivering safe drinking water.  Many of these same professionals are responsible for keeping our lakes, rivers, and streams clean and free of environmental contaminants.  Although the Flint crisis dominated our discussions with each other, the event reminded us of the many positive reasons we work in the water industry.

Nineteen of Prein&Newhof’s professional engineers and scientists belong to these organizations so they enhance their ability to design the public infrastructure we rely upon and take for granted. We volunteer our time in these and many other industry organizations as a way to learn, teach, support, and give back to our profession and our communities.

Please contact me, Prein&Newhof, or the AWWA if you have drinking water questions. If you want to know what’s in your water, we test that, too. Our environmental laboratory is MDEQ-certified to test drinking water for many impurities, including lead and copper.

By James R. Hegarty, PE

Have you ever been disappointed with an engineering firm’s work? Did it ever occur to you that your hiring process might have unwittingly set your project up for failure from the start?  Jim Hegarty, engineer and business development specialist, has gathered some tips for hiring engineering consultants.


1: Invite a quality list of firms to submit proposals.

When you are hunting for the perfect engineering consultant for your project, it’s better to hunt with a rifle than a shotgun, or fish with a pole instead of a net. Sending your RFP/Q to every possible firm says that that you are willing to work with anybody. It will also get you stacks and stacks of proposals to evaluate.

The most qualified firms often do not spend their time and money to respond to these “shotgun” RFP/Qs, leaving you with a less-than-optimal pool of respondents. Do your homework first. You know one or more firms that do the type of work you are planning. You may also know one or two firms that you can eliminate. If you want to invite a quality list of firms, ask people you trust in other communities who they would recommend inviting for a particular type of project. You will save yourself a lot of time and get better results for your community.


2: Answer these eight questions in your RFP…every time.

Over the last 20 years, I have responded to hundreds of requests for proposals and qualifications (RFP/Qs) issued by communities. Unfortunately, I have seen many examples where a well-intentioned community short-changed itself with a poorly conceived RFP/Q. Every RFP/Q should provide this basic information:

  1. Due date and time.
  2. Delivery address.
  3. Person to whom the RFP response should be delivered.
  4. Number of copies needed. Have you considered receiving these in digital form (pdf)?
  5. Describe your proposed project and your expectations for it.
  6. Identify the information you want included in responses, in the order you prefer.
  7. Who is available to answer technical questions? Administrative questions?
  8. Outline your review and selection schedule.


3: Expect these seven questions from serious proposers.

Serious respondents always ask these questions, and you may as well answer as many of them as you can in your RFP/Q.

  • What is your selection criteria and weighting?
  • Who else received your RFP/Q?
  • Who will review the RFP/Q responses?
  • What have you budgeted for the professional fees? Ensuing project?
  • Is additional information about the project available? Studies, maps, surveys, etc.?
  • When will you make your selection decision?
  • Can we meet with you prior to the due date to discuss the project in greater detail?

The more transparent your process, the more willing you are to share information and meet with interested firms, the better responses you can expect. The best firms are selective on the work they pursue, so withholding information or shielding yourself from meaningful engagement are “red flags” that may convince a qualified firm to “pass” on your RFP.


4: Be careful what you ask for in your RFP.

When you evaluate a firm’s response to your RFP, you want to see relevant information. But, be careful what you ask for! Reading a stack of engineering proposals can be a mind-numbing task. Avoid asking for information that does not directly relate to your needs. Focus on three areas:

  1. The Project Manager: Assuming you have invited responses from firms with good reputations, the most critical element in every project is the proposed project manager. Ask to see relevant information about his or her experience with the specific type of project you are planning. This is the person with whom you and your community will interact during the project, so it’s critical to know as much as you can about him or her.
  2. The Work Plan: A written work plan is the consultant’s opportunity to share with you the process they will use to design your project, and to describe any unique approaches or ideas they will apply to it. The work plan both reveals the proposers’ enthusiasm for your project and their level of preparation for and understanding of your needs.
  3. References: This is especially important for your project manager. The materials you receive in proposals merely reflect a firm’s style. Reference checks will reveal true substance if your project manager has it.


5: Read between the proposal’s lines.

When you evaluate a firm’s response to your RFP, you want to see relevant information. Sometimes you need a snow shovel to find it. Were the relevant projects in the firm’s experience portfolio just like your proposed project? If they were, did your proposed project manager design/manage them? Is the project manager used to working with and leading other technical team members? Connect the dots. If you cannot answer “yes” to either of these questions, keep looking. These are red flags.

Look at the project manager’s work history. How long has he or she been with this firm? Other firms? Ask another community about their bad experiences: changing project managers in the middle of a project will rank near the top of their list. Has the proposed project manager actually managed this type of project before? Been the design leader on similar projects? Or just a team member? Read their resume and their relevant project summaries carefully. Make sure their role on example projects is the same as their proposed role on your project. (If your selection process includes an interview, insist that the project manager lead the interview. Since this is the person who will lead your project and interact with you and your public during it, why allow someone else who is a “smooth talker” dominate the interview? You may never see that person again. There is only one person with whom you will interact regularly; the project manager. Make sure the project manager has the experience you need.)

Are some of the cited relevant projects from an employee’s work at another firm? If so, is that person’s role clear? Is the project credited properly to the other firm? Similarly, is there someone on the project team who has relevant experience, but does not appear to play a key role other than “advisor?”

Read the technical team’s qualifications carefully, too. How deep is this team’s experience? Has this same team done this type of work before? Does someone other than the project manager have most or all of the experience with this type of project? Why is that person not leading your team? If not, will that person have a significant role on your project, or is their resume included as window dressing? If some of the team’s work experience is from other firms or past employers, is that information properly attributed? It’s important to read resumes and project histories carefully to discern your proposed team’s actual experience. If the written materials are not crystal clear as to a person’s role on past projects, assume nothing. Ask!


6: Meet with prospective firms individually.

Transparency and fairness are fine qualities, but they do not always help you get the most out of your proposal process. While pre-proposal meetings may appear to be an efficient way to share information with a large number of firms, they are not an effective way for you to improve the quality of the proposals you receive. Group settings like this seriously stifle creativity because most proposers have no interest in sharing their insightful questions with their competitors. If you’re interested in receiving quality proposals, you need to meet with each serious firm face-to-face. This is the engineering professional’s diagnostic opportunity to really understand your needs and respond with valuable solutions to them.

I’ve noticed that clients often ask all firms to submit questions in writing so they can share the question and answer with all firms in an addendum. Thought this is efficient and may make your job easier, it does not make for better proposals. You need to be willing to meet individually with each firm, allowing a free exchange of questions, thoughts and ideas, so you can get the maximum benefit out of the proposals you receive.

The proposal process is all about getting the best for your community.


7: Price proposals: you lose.

While it may sound self-serving for an engineer to say that the selection of professional service providers based on price is inadvisable, I’ll say it. Price proposals are a bad idea. The popular claim “When banks compete, you win!” is opposite for engineering services.When engineers compete on price, you lose.

Why? While engineering fees are a small fraction of a project’s overall cost, engineering decisions not only influence a project’s initial cost; they also affect your overall, long-term cost of ownership. Price-based selections often result in what I call “hit-and-run” engineering.

Here is an example how low-cost engineering decision can affect a project’s cost. A client asked us for a proposal to design a pedestrian bridge over a creek. The owner had two options: evaluate the existing vehicle bridge’s capability to “hang” a pedestrian bridge off one side, or design a freestanding bridge. The design fees for a freestanding bridge are modest if you decide to use a pre-engineered, pre-fabricated bridge. Conversely, the design effort to evaluate the effect of additional loads and width to an existing bridge is far more involved and costly. When design cost drives your decision, you end up with a freestanding bridge because it is easier to design. Unfortunately, it may cost you twice as much to build the freestanding bridge. While you set out to save money in your engineering fee, you ended up spending more on the project. You lose.

Ideally, you want your engineer to keep your best interests in mind, but by placing an undue emphasis on design costs, you may actually end up paying far more than you should. The only way to lower engineering fees is to cut back on time spent in design and/or the experience level of the designer. You deserve better.


8: Check the references for the unvarnished truth.

You have digested a stack of proposals. You have scored them and settled on the top two or three. They all look great on paper. Why bother checking references? Because sometimes what is left unwritten is louder than what is written.

I am surprised how often communities do not check references, especially on price-based selections. Your reference checks should focus on the project manager and key technical team members. And, don’t just call the people listed in their proposal. Call your colleagues in other communities. Google the project manager to see where else they have worked, and contact those communities. Read the news articles in the Google search results. What you learn may validate your impressions, but it also can surprise you. It is well worth the few minutes it takes to check and verify references.


9: Experience matters!

Inexperience can cost you dearly. A good engineer wants to spend as little of a client’s money as possible developing a potential solution before discovering it is not feasible. Experience shortens this process. Here are two examples to illustrate:

  • One Michigan community spent $80,000 on engineering for a sewer project around a lake before developing a cost estimate for potential customers. When customers learned the cost, they killed the project, and the community was out $80,000. They could have gotten a reliable cost estimate for $5,000, but the engineer’s approach of developing detailed information only postponed the inevitable at a significant cost to the community.
  • Another community, searching for a new site for a drinking water well, invested $50,000 drilling a test well before it learned that the local water quality was poor. They could have learned that in the first $1,000 they spent by checking local well records, but the project work plan was poorly devised.


The best way to hire an engineer, or any other professional services firm for that matter, is by using the Qualifications-Based-Selection (QBS) process, in which you evaluate firms on their qualifications, and negotiate a fair scope and price of work with the most qualified firm. You can learn more at the Michigan QBS website:

By Jim Hegarty, PE

I have been called in to look at a fair number of pipe failures over the course of my engineering career. One thing I notice is in the rush to fix the failure, there is often little focus on figuring out why the failure occurred. It is easy to miss clues to a systemic problem unless someone on your team plays “Columbo” and gathers some clues to analyze when the dust settles. Here are 12 things I think you should do every time a pipe fails:

  1. Get to the site as soon as possible, before too much damage spreads.
  2. Photograph everything. The ground, the pipe, the hole, any damage. Take as many photographs as you can, from several different angles. They may help you recall the state of the site later when you try to piece everything back together.
  3. Mark the top of the failed pipe as soon as it is exposed. The location of the failure relative to the top of the pipe can tell you a lot about why it failed.
  4. Make a sketch of the pipe layout. It will help you to reconstruct the scene later.
  5. Remove the failed pipe carefully to preserve its condition. The closer it remains to intact, the easier it is determine how and why it failed.
  6. Number or mark each piece of pipe shown in your layout sketch. Save and preserve each marked pipe you remove.
  7. Collect and mark soil samples from the pipe trench, preferably not wetted by the failure. Take care to sample soil representative of the soil in contact with the pipe. This can be a valuable tool to diagnose either an external corrosion or soil-structure failure.
  8. Check pump records if the pipe operates under pressure. Surges (also called transients or water hammer) can put tremendous stress on buried pipes. Power outages, valve closings and pump starts and stops can create dangerous surge pressures.
  9. Ask questions to understand anything you think may have played a role in the failure.
  10. Review the construction plans, as they may harbor clues to a contributing cause of a break.
  11. Study the construction inspection reports.
  12. Keep a map of your breaks or incidents. They can help you identify trends or patterns that otherwise may not be obvious.

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.

By James Hegarty, PE

I’m encouraged by Michigan’s state-wide movement toward adopting asset management as a financial planning tool for key infrastructure systems. This article supported my belief that to enjoy the current level of service from our infrastructure into the future, it’s going to cost more money.

It’s easy to see the results of neglecting to maintain and invest in roads. Potholes are more than an annoyance and failed streets are more expensive to fix than failing streets. Voters will decide on a road-funding tax proposal this Spring.

It’s less obvious to users to see what’s happening with buried infrastructure like sewer, water and storm sewer pipes. As more communities develop asset management plans for buried pipes, I’m sure we’ll need more money to keep them operating in line with our future needs.

You can contact Brian Vilmont or me to learn more about developing an asset management plan and a rate structure to support it.