Civil and Environmental Engineering: Disciplines that Intertwine to Improve Society
Two of the several services offered by Encorus Group are civil and environmental engineering. Environmental engineer Mary Padasak gives some insight on how the two disciples work hand-in-hand to improve the infrastructure of our communities.
Civil and environmental engineering are similar, but not the same. They often compliment each other and overlap in many areas. A lot of people who go to school for environmental engineering end up as wastewater engineers, working on how to best clean sanitary sewer and stormwater flows. Civil engineers work on building roads and the infrastructure around the sanitary and stormwater piping. Engineers in both fields are heavily involved in infrastructure, from roads to pipes to tanks to bridges.
At Encorus Group, both the civil and environmental engineers wear many varied hats. The civil engineer will work on the grading and drainage plan for a property, while the environmental engineer is routing the stormwater, drinking water, and sanitary lines through the same parcel. The civil engineer will design for the grading and paving of an area, while the environmental engineer designs the bulk storage tank and required secondary containment that will sit on the pavement. Civil engineers design the bridge, road, or parking lot, but the environmental engineer does the regulatory permitting and stormwater design for construction. These close overlaps are why many people confuse the work of civil and environmental engineers. We have to work closely together so that the lay of the land works efficiently with the use of the land.
One of the often-overlooked specialties of civil and environmental engineers is developing grading and drainage plans. Grading is the process of laying out how the land should be flattened and worked so that people can easily traverse it. It also lays out the low spots for stormwater to flow for drainage. Everyone has experienced poor grading and drainage. From a car driving through a puddle on a rainy day and splashing people on the sidewalk, to water running into your garage from the driveway, somewhere along the line grading and drainage was done poorly. Poor grading also makes walking and driving difficult or awkward. Have you ever driven down a road on a left-hand turn, but the low side of the turn was on the right? It feels like the car is going to fly off the road, and that is poor grading.
Efficient grading and drainage let people and vehicles get where they need to go without water following or impeding them. If it is done correctly, everything should feel natural and you should not notice any abnormalities. When done poorly, grading and drainage stick out like a sore thumb and cause an inconvenience to the public.
Next time it rains and you notice that there are no puddles on the sides of the road, or you go around a properly graded turn in your car, remember that you have civil and environmental engineers to thank for not being splashed or flying off the road.
One of the environmental engineering services that Encorus Group offer is the creation of an SPCC Plan. Environmental Engineer Mary Padasak gave us some insight into what exactly SPCC Plans are and why they are important.
Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plans (SPCC Plans) are documents created for facilities containing large reserves of oils, both petroleum and non-petroleum based. Their purpose is to protect navigable water and shorelines by helping prevent spill scenarios, and to provide roadmaps for cleanup and control of a spill should one occur. SPCC plans are required under federal law 40 CFR 112 for facilities that have greater than 1,320-gallon aboveground storage capacity or greater than 42,000-gallon completely buried underground storage capacity. Each SPCC Plan is unique to the facility and its contents. SPCC Plans include procedures to prevent spills during operations, control measures to be in place to prevent oils from entering the environment should a spill occur, and countermeasures to contain and clean up the spill, as well as mitigate any impacts to the environment. SPCC Plans must be certified by a Professional Engineer. They must also be reviewed annually and re-certified every five years.
New York State has requirements that go above the federal standard and are more protective of the environment. Under 6 NYCRR 613, tanks over 110 gallons, with some exceptions, must be registered to an owner who is responsible for their care and maintenance to prevent discharges to navigable waters. These registrations must be renewed every five years and are periodically audited by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. For underground tanks, trained operators are also required. These operators have been trained on the specific tank system they are using or registering, are knowledgeable in safe operation of the system, and know how to control, contain, and mitigate impacts should a spill occur.
Encorus Group has knowledgeable staff in the writing and review of SPCC Plans and tank registrations in New York State. Our professional engineers are able to certify the reports as required by federal law. We also have trained operators that can manage your underground tank systems and train your low-level operators. If you require an SPCC Plan, please contact Sheila Ransbottom, PE at (716) 592-3980 ext. 153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talk to Sheila Ransbottom, PE, and Kevin Opp at the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association Winter Conference and Trade Show in Saratoga Springs January 22 – 24!
The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) are taking a step to help municipalities by offering grants to help pay for planning and development of an engineering report for drinking water infrastructure projects that address emerging contaminants. These projects work toward protecting public health by addressing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), or 1, 4-dioxane. These toxins are found in plastics, stain resistant and stick resistant coatings, and solvents.
Emerging contaminants are trace amounts of chemicals that have been detected in the water supply. When consumed, these chemicals can have a harmful effect on a person’s health. It is important to take steps toward eliminating these emerging contaminants to prevent any toxic health issues.
There is $185 million available in grant funding from NYS DOH and NYS EFC for water treatment system upgrades to combat emerging contaminants. This program is intended to initiate the construction of projects to combat emerging contaminants by providing funding for the first steps in the project planning phase.
Eligible applicants include cities, district corporations, counties, villages, towns, county or town improvement districts, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts, and Indian Nations or Tribes with reservation wholly or partly within New York State.
Eligible projects include providing treatment to remove emerging contaminants, extending or installing new public water system infrastructure to serve areas affected by emerging contaminants, and developing or connecting to a new water source that is not affected by emerging contaminants.
Projects are evaluated for reduction in risk to public health, readiness to advance to construction, and the level of demonstrated support from the community. Higher levels of these factors lead to a better chance that the project will be chosen for this opportunity.
Encorus Group can help with the identification of and engineering design for the elimination of emerging contaminants from drinking water. If you are eligible for these grants and would like to pursue them, contact Environmental Engineer Mary Padasak at email@example.com or (716) 592-3980 ext. 144.
For more information about this grant program and the application requirements, visit https://www.efc.ny.gov/EmergingContaminants.
What is the largest magnet you have ever seen? I’ll give you a hint: You are standing on it. Yup, it’s the Earth! But you say, “How can that be?” Deep under our feet, buildings, and roadways, is the Earth’s core. The core is about 4500 miles wide and the outer part is liquid (molten) and the inner part is solid (nickel and iron). It is this core which is responsible for the earth’s magnetic field – think North and South poles. So, the Earth is like a huge bar magnet.
Early indications of the Earth’s magnetic field were detected via a simple compass used by seafarers for at least the past 1000 years. So where does that put us today? Zip ahead to now.
Magnetics have been a fascination for generations and have been studied with regards to radio communications, cell phones, motors, generators, and more geologically and environmentally for mineral exploration, coal mine hazard detection, unexploded ordinance detection, location drums of toxic and hazardous wastes, underground storage tank locating, as aids for directional drilling, and for oil exploration.
By recording and analyzing minute changes in the magnetic field proximate subsurface features it may be possible to determine the source of the readings and thereby evaluate the appropriate course of action: exploration, digging, drilling, excavation, etc.
Magnetometer surveys are completed at the ground surface or via airborne methods (drones, aircraft, and satellites). Depending on the survey goals, various magnetometry can be used such as fluxgate, gradiometer, vector, potassium/cesium vapor, or proton procession magnetometers.
Encorus has used magnetometers such as the EM-61 to locate buried metal objects like tanks and utilities. The Geonics EM-61 is a time domain metal detector which detects both ferrous and non-ferrous objects with excellent spatial resolution, perfectly suited to brownfield site mitigation or locating tanks and unexploded ordinance.
Another type of magnetometer is the Geonics EM-31 which is used to determine terrain conductivity. The EM31 maps geologic variations, groundwater contaminants, or any subsurface feature associated with changes in ground conductivity. Surveys can be carried out under most geologic conditions including those of high surface resistivity such as sand, gravel, and asphalt.
It should be noted that no single geophysical method alone can fully identify differentiate subsurface objects, as each has its inherent limitations. Generally, a suite of equipment and methods are used to fully investigate a site. For more information regarding our geophysical applications and your site-specific project requirements contact Senior Geologist Andrew Kucserik at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 592-3980 ext 149.
DID YOU KNOW? #funfactfriday
Underground Storage Tank Closures
One of the services that Encorus Group provides through our Environmental Services Team is monitoring underground storage tank (UST) closure procedures. When a storage tank located underground is no longer needed or no longer intended for continued usage it is required to undergo closure operations per regulatory requirements. The tanks must be emptied and then either removed or filled with inert materials (i.e., cement grout, concrete, etc.), depending on site conditions and restrictions.
There are three UST closure operations that can be utilized depending on the situation: placed in temporary out-of-service condition, closure-in-place, or total removal. It is important to adhere to the closure procedures to maintain proper environmental and safety standards, and to be in compliance with regulatory requirements.
Placing an UST in temporary out-of-service condition occurs when an UST has been emptied and is intended to be refilled with a controlled substance within a predetermined period of time. The closure-in-place operation involves filling the UST with a solid material that will not shrink or change form in any way. In some cases, the tank can be subject to a type of closure-in-place procedure called a change in service, where the type of substance that is stored in the tank is changed to an unregulated substance. The removal operation is performed by removing the entire UST from the ground (permanently out-of-service). Monitoring of the closure operations requires scanning of the excavated and remaining soils, removal of evidence of subsurface impact (e.g., staining, odors, spillage), collection of soil samples for confirmatory laboratory analyses, and evaluation to regulatory clean-up requirements for efficacy of the closure operations. Final closure is attained when the regulatory agency is provided with an UST Closure Report and that agency has confirmed that all closure operations and requirements have been attained.
If you are in need of UST Closure services, please contact Senior Geologist Andrew Kucserik at (716) 592-3980 ext 149 or email@example.com.