Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineers work to sustain a healthy environment for humans, wildlife, and other living organisms, study the release of pollutants, clean up contaminated sites, develop and enforce regulations. In one sense, human intervention in the environment has largely come from civil engineering development– the expansion of cities, building ports, etc. – which has often brought along negative environmental impacts that are now being reduced (“mitigated”). Environmental engineers, along with water system engineers as discussed later, also work in the field of sanitary engineering, which includes solid waste disposal landfill sites as well as sewage systems. An environmental engineer might be responsible for tasks such as the following.


  • Assessment: evaluating the impact of a project on the surrounding environment, including air, water, noise, soil, biotic community, and social impacts
  • Design: designing water treatment, wastewater treatment, recycling, land fill, and pollution monitoring and controlling facilities
  • Analysis: analyzing pollution types and levels, modeling the movement and dispersion of contaminants in the air, water, and soil
  • Monitoring and Compliance: monitoring levels of contaminants in the environment; enforcing environmental protection regulations
  • Mitigation: cleaning up polluted sites, developing processes to minimize release of pollutants, disposal of hazardous waste, and conservation of resources.


Figure 24 illustrates an environmental engineering facility serving a practical purpose and which is also a popular visitor center and museum. The Musée des Egouts (museum of sewers) can be visited by purchasing a group pass to art and other museums in Paris. For a century, it has provided tours of its underground works that carry storm water and sewage beneath the streets of the city.


Figure 2-4. Musée des Egouts. The museum of the sewer system of Paris is a frequented tourist destination and has provided tours for visitors for a century.


Figure 2-5. The US Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito, California. It was built for hydraulic modeling of the flow of water from the interior 40% of California into San Francisco Bay, around the Bay, and out the Golden Gate. The model can also simulate the rise and fall of tides. Exhibits inform the visitors about the model and the water system it has studied. photo: RR

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